9 Things You Should Never Do If You Want Abs Year Round

The truth about abs

You might think that you need to crunch your heart out and go on a strict diet if you want your abs to come out of hiding. Is that really how you get abs?

Let’s get one thing straight: everybody has abs, but it’s the layer of fat around your midsection that’s preventing them from being seen.

If you’re wondering how to get abs at home, and more importantly, how to keep them visible all year round — check out these 9 things you should definitely avoid and what to do instead!

9 Things You Should Never Do if You Want Toned Abs

1. Crunch your life away

Ab-focused exercises such as Crunches and Sit-ups have their place. However, most people perform them incorrectly and have other muscular imbalances (weak core, including hips and back) that make this exercise super ineffective and a painful waste of time.

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

If you want to get rid of that layer of fat on your abs, it’s best to engage your entire body in compound movements like Squats, Lunges or Burpees. Additionally, any bodyweight exercises that also engage your core are a great choice as they not only strengthen your abdominal muscles, but also help improve your posture, which can improve both your running and training performance. You can find plenty of exercises for core strength in the adidas Training app (P.S.: They are much better fat burners than any isolation exercises for the abs!)

2. Train your abs every single day

Just like any other muscle, your abs need a break too! That doesn’t mean you can’t activate your ab muscles during your warm-up with exercises like Planks, Inchworms, and other balance and stabilization exercises, but you shouldn’t train them every day.

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Instead of training your abs every single day, throw in a high intensity workout here and there to burn more fat and reveal those abs sooner, like this crazy 10-minute full-body home workout or one of these Tabata workouts.

3. Go on a crash diet

When changing your eating habits, don’t do something that you cannot maintain AT LEAST 80% of the time (if not more!). If it promises fast weight loss, you can almost guarantee a quick yo-yo effect as well.

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Slow and steady wins the race. Reduce your daily calorie intake (calculated with the total daily energy expenditure calculator) by 300-500 calories a day, not more. Focus on improving your diet slowly and keep it healthy long-term.

4. Forget about your diet completely

It’s 100% true: abs are made in the kitchen. You need to be mindful of what you are eating. Even if you’re exercising 3-5 times a week, horrible eating habits will make it impossible to get abs. If you can’t lose body fat, it can be due to the fact that you’re eating too much (duh!) but also that you’re not eating enough!

In terms of ab-focused nutrition, your should always include:

  • Complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, legumes, and potatoes
  • Sufficient protein from legumes, tofu and other soy-based produces, lean meat, fish and dairy products
  • Healthy fats from plant oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish

In general, nothing is really forbidden, but everything recommended in moderation

5. Do the same workout routine for longer than 4-6 weeks

Our bodies are really smart and great at adaptation. If you realize you’ve been doing the same workout routine for months, you need to mix it up!

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Try new exercises, go to a different workout class…just do something different!

Check out these ideas:

6. Drink alcohol on a regular basis

For some people, excessive calories from alcohol aren’t really the main problem. It’s the food choices made after a night out: greasy burgers, taco truck, hot dog stand, or a big bag of chips. Sound familiar? So not only are you getting more liquid calories than you need, but also overeating in the end. Speaking of liquid calories — did you know that alcohol, at 7 kcal per 100 g, provides almost as much energy as fat?(1)

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Let’s face it, high-quality sport performance and alcohol don’t mix, although some light exercise can be an effective way to ease a hangover! If you’re really serious about getting and maintaining your abs, you might want to think about your regular weekends at the bar.

Don’t forget to drink enough water! For inspiration, check out this testimonial about how quitting alcohol can help you get fitter.

7. Stress out all the time (about having abs or anything else!)

It’s one thing to have a stressful day here and there, but when stressful days are a recurring thing leading to a stressful life, it could be a huge reason why you cannot see your abs. Studies have shown that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity.

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Take time for you, because you’re the only one that can do that! Don’t forget the benefits of walking, meditation, and writing down and reflecting regularly on the things for which you are grateful.

8. ONLY do low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS)

As mentioned in number 5, you have to mix it up! When it comes to cardio, you don’t only want to go for slow and steady runs.

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Add some HIIT into your routine as well. HIIT and LISS cardio both play a role in fat burning and helping to get that ab definition. Interval training really helps you burn a lot of calories, so include it in your workouts if you want to get abs!

9. Forget about recovery

Working out seven days a week is not the answer. In fact, the magic happens during your rest days and recovery, not during your workout. Working out is stress on your body, but it’s definitely good stress as long as you’re not overdoing it. 

What to do instead if you want to get abs:

Here are 6 signs to find out if you need to take a rest day. Listen to your body! On your rest days you don’t have to be inactive; take a walk or try some of these yoga poses.

So, how can you get abs at home?

Abs can be made at home, but don’t expect a magic bullet! Take a closer look at your workout and nutrition habits. Avoid the 9 biggest mistakes listed above and make sure to include interval training in your workout schedule. This will speed up your results and help you keep your abs all year round.


Lunden Souza Lunden Souza is an Online Fitness & Lifestyle Transformation Coach. She helps people all over the world create a sustainable healthy lifestyle, so they'll never have to "start over" again! Connect with @lifelikelunden for real-life strategies to get on track for long-term health in both body and mind. View all posts by Lunden Souza