How Can a Woman Get Abs: Best Tips and Exercises

Getting those elusive six-pack abs might seem challenging, but it’s totally doable. Celebrities like Sydney Sweeney, Jennifer Lopez, and Lindsey Vonn have killer abs, and I’ve gathered some insider tips from celebrity trainers on how they achieved that sculpted look. 

Here’s the lowdown: Not all factors affecting visible abs are within your control. If you want more defined abs, you need to combine proper nutrition with exercise. Just doing core exercises won’t cut it.

The key to effective ab workouts is to take a holistic approach. Instead of fixating on a six-pack, which can be unrealistic for many, focus on training all-around your core. This means working on the 360-degree core of your body.

In this article, I’ve included some fitness trainers’ recommendations to sculpt six-pack abs and reach the body fat percentage needed to make them stand out.

Best Tips For Helping Women Get Abs and a Stronger Core

1. Train Your Abs Regularly

Exercises used to tone core muscles should be a part of every workout to help you get abs. These include crunches, planks, mountain climbers, and sit-ups.

When working your abs, don’t just focus on the six-pack muscles. Train your entire core, hitting internal and external obliques, transverse abdominals, and stabilizers.

However, according to a PubMed study, just doing targeted exercises won’t melt away belly fat. To truly see those washboard abs, you have to combine exercises with a healthy diet. 

2. Add Cardio to Your Routine

To burn calories and make those abs show up faster, try adding cardio to your workouts. According to studies, cardio, like jogging, biking, boxing, or swimming, gets your heart rate up and helps shedding your stubborn belly fat. In fact, since it doesn’t target a specific muscle group, you can lose overall body weight as well. 

The best cardio exercises for abs are those that (1) increase your breathing, (2) elevate your heart rate, and (3) enhance your core endurance. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply start with a round of high knees to boost your heart rate while also working your core. 

3. Incorporate HIIT Workouts into Your Workout Routine

Ever heard of HIIT? It stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s your shortcut to sculpting awesome abs. This workout combines cardio and strength training, giving you a fast and intense session that gets your heart pumping.

What makes HIIT great is its dual action – it helps you lose body fat and gain lean muscle. Just three to four HIIT sessions a week can make a real change in your body, helping you achieve the dream abs you’ve always wanted.

4. Up your protein intake

There are two parts to achieving a six-pack: shedding enough fat to reveal your core muscles and building those muscles for definition. You need protein for both. It helps you lose fat by keeping you full on fewer calories and provides the fuel your body needs for muscle building.

The scientific community has varying opinions on the exact protein amount needed. Most sources suggest 0.8 to 1.1 grams per pound of body weight. Begin with 0.8 grams and monitor your progress – adjust as needed.

Here are some examples of protein-rich and healthy fat foods:

  • Poultry, like chicken and turkey
  • Lean meats, including beef, pork, and lamb
  • Fish, especially fatty options like salmon (high in omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts
  • Seeds, including pumpkin, sunflower, and quinoa

5. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water has many benefits that support your six-pack goals. It’s scientifically proven to increase the amount of calories you burn, which is known as resting energy expenditure.

A study on overweight women showed that increasing daily water intake to over 1 liter (34 oz) led to an extra 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of weight loss over 12 months. What’s remarkable is that these women made no other lifestyle changes except drinking more water.

The impact may be even greater if the water is cold. Cold water prompts your body to use extra calories to warm it up to body temperature.

In general, drinking 0.5 liters (17 oz) of water could boost calorie burning for at least an hour. According to some studies, this can result in modest weight loss.

6. Limit Your Intake of Sugar and Fried Food

Cutting down on sugar and fried foods is crucial if you want to trim belly fat and define your abs. Sugary drinks like soda and juice can add body fat and hinder your progress. They’re loaded with calories and sugar, which can lead to more belly fat, according to studies

Likewise, sugary snacks such as cookies and cakes should be limited. They’re packed with calories and contain added sugars like fructose, which won’t help your goal of reducing belly fat and defining your abs.

Fried foods, like fries and chicken strips, aren’t helpful either. They’re high in both calories and unhealthy trans fats, which can raise your risk of heart disease and contribute to weight gain and body fat.

7. Replace Refined Grains with Whole Grains

Refined grains, like white rice, bread, and pasta, lose many nutrients during processing to enhance shelf life and texture. In contrast, whole grains are richer in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.

Research suggests that replacing refined grains with whole grains supports weight loss and reduces body fat. A study of 2,834 people revealed that a higher intake of whole grains was linked to less belly fat, while refined grains were associated with increased belly fat.

Instead of refined carbs, go for complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. These carbs won’t cause a spike in blood sugar, keep you full longer due to their fiber content, and provide your body with readily available energy.

8. Avoid Alcohol

If you’re serious about losing belly fat and sculpting a six-pack, it’s best to steer clear of alcohol during your diet. At most, limit yourself to two or three drinks per week.

While the occasional drink can be part of a healthy diet, excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact both your health and your waistline.

For instance, a study with over 8,600 participants found that higher alcohol intake was linked to a larger waist circumference.

Another study involving 11,289 people revealed that those who consumed more alcohol per occasion were more likely to have excess belly fat compared to those who had less than 2 drinks each time.

5 Abs Exercises To Sculpt Your Core

If you don’t have a favorite core routine yet, check out these five effective exercises recommended by trainers to sculpt strong abs.

1. Glute Bridge March

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels under your knees, and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your arms over your chest with your palms facing up.
  3. Lift your hips, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Tighten your abs and raise your right knee over your hip, keeping a 90-degree angle in that leg.
  5. Hold for a moment, then lower your right foot.
  6. Repeat the same movement with your left leg. This completes one repetition.
  7. Continue alternating between right and left legs.

Benefits: This exercise targets the rectus abdominis and transverse abs. Additionally, it engages your glutes, contributing to overall stability.

Why it’s effective: The Glute Bridge March not only activates different parts of your abdominal muscles but also involves your glutes, enhancing your overall stability.

2. Plank With Knee Tap

How to do it:

  1. Start in a plank position with your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  2. Gently and in a controlled manner, lower both knees until they touch the ground.
  3. Return to the plank position to complete one repetition.

Benefits: This exercise targets the rectus abdominis.

Why it’s effective: The slow and controlled movement of the Plank With Knee Tap engages your core muscles. Moreover, it reduces strain on your neck by allowing your knees to touch the ground periodically.

3. Shoulder Tap And Jack

How to do it:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Keep your core engaged.
  3. Tap your right shoulder with your left hand while simultaneously jumping your feet outward.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the same movement on the opposite side to complete one repetition.

Benefits: This exercise targets the obliques, transverse abs, and rectus abdominis.

Why it’s effective: The Shoulder Tap And Jack not only engages all aspects of your core but also elevates your heart rate, providing a cardio boost.

4. Deadbug

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling, in line with your shoulders.
  2. Bend your legs to 90 degrees, with your knees above your hips.
  3. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor, engage your abs, and slowly extend and lower your right leg until the heel nearly touches the floor.
  4. Simultaneously, lower your left arm until your hand nearly touches the floor overhead.
  5. Pause, then return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the same movement on the opposite side to complete one repetition.
  7. Continue alternating between sides.

Benefits: This exercise targets the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abs.

Why it’s effective: The Deadbug, performed in a slow and controlled manner, strengthens and stabilizes the core, promoting good posture and alleviating low-back pain without causing strain on the neck.

5. Reverse Crunch

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs lifted so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground, and extend your legs. (You can bend your knees as a modification.)
  2. Press your lower back into the mat.
  3. Curl your knees into your chest, lifting your hips off the ground.
  4. Return to the starting position with control to complete one repetition.

Benefits: This exercise targets the rectus abdominis.

Why it’s effective: The Reverse Crunch engages your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques without straining your neck and back.

How Long Does It Take to Get 6-Pack Abs?

To make your abs visible, you typically need to lose around 50% of your body fat. A safe and achievable rate of fat loss is about 1% per month. Based on these guidelines, the time it takes to achieve six-pack abs could be:

  • 20-26 months for the average woman
  • 15-21 months for the average man

Some studies suggest that combining 12 weeks of strength training with aerobic exercise is more effective in reducing body fat than relying on aerobic exercise alone.

While attaining six-pack abs is a challenging goal, it’s a significant accomplishment that can positively impact your overall health and various aspects of your life.

Read more: How to Get Six Pack Abs Fast

The Bottom Line

Achieving toned and visible abs, especially for women, can be challenging. There’s no quick fix, but the key is a combination of healthy eating, strength training, cardio, and targeting all abdominal muscles. 

If you need more guidance, make an appointment with our online personal training

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I'm Lucas Sullivan, an ISSA certified personal trainer. I've helped over 100 clients of various age groups achieve their fitness goals.

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