Fitness, Health

How to build abs: my guide PLUS how to re-build them after pregnancy and close the gap (diastasis recti)


You’ve heard that abs are made in the kitchen. Basically, your nutrition and eventually the amount of fat in your body makes a difference on how much of abs definition is seen. The truth is, if you spend hours at the gym but still overeat and have high body fat percentage you won’t see abs.

BUT – many forget to mention the other part, which is your training. If let’s say your body fat percentage is low, it still doesn’t mean you automatically will have toned belly and abs showing because you need to work them out. If you heard “skinny fat”, you will know what I mean – a person can be skinny but not toned that’s why the exercise part is just as important. A sweet advantage of having abs is that even when you go a bit higher in your body fat percentage, they will still show because of the amount of muscle that’s underneath your skin, unless the belly fat gets completely under control.

So let’s begin!



If you’re a new mom, scroll down to see my tips for postpartum abs.

You workout your abdominal muscles when you perform lots of exercises that you probably don’t do for abs but other muscle groups, such as squats, especially if you try to hold and flex your tummy when you do them. But it’s not enough and to get visible six pack, you need to workout your abs.

I want to mention that just like with any other muscle, abs can grow. That means, if you workout with weights too much, your waist can get thicker, especially if your body fat percentage isn’t super low. So my suggestion is to use light or no weights to your abs exercises and just repeat each exercise to failure until you can’t do more. 

Another note: if you’re a female, I don’t recommend doing side planks or anything on the side for the reason that it will expand your waist even more ( which is okay for men, and that “V: on the sides of their abs does look good on men). You certainly can get the “V “- it’s when the two lines of lower abs meet to create what’s also called “sex lines” and perform exercises such as Oblique side sit up but just so you know, you will ruin glass shape and get more of a thick square waist. Not a lot of trainers will tell you that!

These are my go-to exercises I did to build abs (and still do them now). The key is to repeat them as many times as you can until it burns! Workout your abs 4-5 times a week to build them and 2-3 to support. You don’t need to do all of them in one workout, just do few today and few different ones tomorrow. 

  1. Scissors 
  2. Reverse crunches 
  3. Leg raises
  4. L-sit
  5. Elbow plank
  6. Panther (plank)
  7. Bicycle crunches 
  8. Hollow body hold
  9. Ab wheel rollout
  10. Mountain climbers

What if you do have abs separation after pregnancy?

Is there a way to close the gap and do you actually have it?

It’s very common to have gap after birth, because your stomach grows rapidly and widens abdominal muscles that create a gap. Some researchers says 100% of women will have it by 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Even having a small tummy might not help. Tour nurse or doctor can check to see, or you can also check it yourself. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Relax and place your finger palm facing you just above your belly button. Lift your neck slightly and if you feel your finger or fingers “falling” into a gap, it’s diastasic. 

First of all, avoid anything that strains or pulls your stomach, if you feel any pain stop immediately. You shouldn’t do some exercises that can make the gap worse. These include:

  • Any type of crunches
  • Exercises like superman that pull apart that gap

And here is what to do instead. You can totally build abs and close the gap with these exercises:

  • Planks
  • Hip bridges
  • Boat pose (hold it similar to planks)
  • Stability ball rollout (one of my favorite)
  • Abdominal drawing: whenever you get up, sit down, lay down, make sure to draw in your belly and hold it tight before you do anything. 

I also highly recommend using postpartum wraps / belts during you workouts to keep abdominal muscles together and avoid damaging your lower back that’s weaker after pregnancy. 

Repeat these abdominal exercises daily if you can for 1-2 months and check on gap again. How long will it take to close the gap? It depends. In some cases, if you had gap as big as 4 fingers in between, it might be hard to close it all the way, and then surgery can fix the problem. It may take weeks to years depending on your current situation but besides closing the gap, you’ll build amazing abs. 

Remember that all the nutrients from healthy food are capable to make you heal faster. When your body is lacking on something, the process slows down. Make sure to work on eating balanced, healthy food daily.

I hope that helps,

Happy abs building!


I put my effort, time and passion into writing this blog. My blog is ads-free for your convenience. If you desire, you can donate using this link below. Thank you!

– Nadine


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