Reasons why you can’t see your abs (and how to make them POP!)

Category : Fitness | Written by : Iris Pohl

Sick of crunches? Unfortunately, women have to work much harder and longer, to achieve washboard abs we dream  of, BUT if you avoid these mistakes, you can reveal them fast. 




#1: You have too much body fat

Before you make your abs visible, you have to burn off the fat layer. Making your abs show, is a matter of getting low body fat levels. The lower your body fat, the thinner your skin will appear and the more your abdominal muscles will show through.


#2 Your diet is not on point 

We all know, abs are made in the kitchen. The best workout is useless if your nutrition is out of control. If your goal is revealing your abs, you will need to maintain a clean and healthy diet. Eliminate refined sugar and white flour. Eat whole grain and water-rich foods to keep your metabolism high. Try low-fat proteins like baked or grilled chicken, fish or lean meat. Fuel your workouts with complex carbs, like oats and brown rice. Stay away from white flour, and sugar, which quickly raise your blood sugar, promoting fat gain around the middle.


#3: Your workout is not hard enough

To get your abs growing, you have to make them BURN! Most people perform a lot of reps and expect fast results, but if you want your abs to pop, you need to add resistance. By adding weights to your workout routine, you force your abs to work harder and allow to build deeply-etched abs.  Furthermore keep your reps in the hypertrophy range (12-15 reps) and work on increasing resistance, just like you would with any other exercises for other body parts.

#4 You try to crunch away the fat

Spot reducing doesn’t work. You cannot lose fat in specific areas of your body by training that body part more often. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is usually the last bit to come off and the first to come back. The only way to get rid of the belly-fat is by slowly and gradually burning it off from your entire body through cardio, nutrition, and strength training.


#5 You don’t target your abs from every angle

Hitting all areas of the ab region means: upper, lower and obliques. Just like you do for any other body parts you need to target all areas of the ab region: upper, lower, and obliques. Most people just do crunches or sit-ups and expect great results. To really make your abs pop, you need to avoid this by including at least one specific exercise that targets each area of your abs during your ab workouts.


#6 You avoid cardio

Cardio is really important for great abs and is always going to be a key factor. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make when attempting to speed up their fat loss, is by doing the wrong type of cardio. Low intensity, long duration cardio workouts are not the best way to lose fat. They are time consuming and can be damaging to the metabolism, by ending up burning off precious muscle mass. Try interval cardio and high intensity training to boost up your metabolism and start burning fat. Intervals have been shown to burn more fat than long-duration cardio sessions. HIIT also increases your metabolism at a higher rate, for a longer period after exercise is over which results in greater calories burned over time. For example, if you go for a run, sprint for a minute, walk for a minute and repeat.


#7 You don’t drink enough water 

Keeping yourself hydrated is essential when you want to get ripped. The more dehydrated you are, the more your body will retain water and store it under your skin. This stored water will actually look like excess fat. Therefore, drink plenty of water to keep your metabolism high and maintain muscle fullness. In addition, the water will help you to feel full and satisfy sugar cravings.

Make sure to drink water regularly throughout the day and as well as during training.You should at least drink 8 cups of water per day.

More tips for a flat tummy and amazing abs:


1. Avoid sodas!

2. Watch your portion size.

3. Boost your metabolism!  Supplements such as green tea extract or carnitine have shown to burn and accelerate the fat burning process.

4. Speed your metabolism by eating more often. 5-6 times every day is highly recommended. Remember, meals should not be the standard restaurant portions but rather mini meals.

5. Eat breakfast and you’re more likely to stick to smaller portions throughout the day.

6. Stay consistent. The closer you stick to your diet and the fewer workouts you miss, the quicker and more permanent your results will be.

7. Don’t forget recovery and try to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours per night. If you don’t allow your body to get enough sleep, you are neglecting a very important part of your muscle building program that could completely erase all of your muscle building efforts in the gym. It is also very important to incorporate “rest days“, so that you allow time for your muscles to grow.

Back to Overview


Iris Pohl

Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Licensed Sports Nutritionist | Certified Sports Journalist | TV Presenter

Iris loves encouraging others reaching their fitness goals and starting an active, healthy lifestyle. Her mission is to help women of all ages create a healthier, sexier, stronger, body and mind.

“Start. And keep going."