Why Your Ab Workout Isn’t Working: 5 Fixes.

You’ve been doing crunches like it’s your job, but you’re not seeing muscle growth. You’ve been eating healthy, staying super lean and doing lots of cardio – and still, your abs don’t pop like Mario Lopez’s.

So, what are you doing wrong?

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in their ab workouts is a lack of progression. Think about the first time that you bench pressed or did a weighted squat. Over time, you increased the weight – you made it harder – and your muscles responded by developing. The same exact thing happens with your abs, but so many of us are stuck in crunch-ruts and routines that we’ve been performing for years.

If you do more of the same, you’ll get more of the same.

In order to truly build stronger and more developed abs that pop, you’ve got to increase the intensity of your ab workout over time. Here are few ways that you can add progression to your ab workout:

  1. Increase the number of reps. If you normally do 10 of a given ab exercise, bump it up to 15.
  2. Increase the angle. If you do crunches on a decline bench, make the angle of the decline sharper.
  3. Decrease resting time between sets. Normally rest for 45 seconds? Try 30.
  4. Increase the resistance. Incorporate increasingly difficult resistance bands into your exercise, or do crunches with heavier and heavier weight plates. If you use an ab machine, up the ante over time.
  5. Hold the contraction for a few seconds. When you’re fully crunched, hold it for two or three seconds – then release.

In terms of progression, your abs are no different than the rest of your muscles. You need to increase the intensity of your workout consistently and constantly over time in order the more fully develop those muscles.

Questions? Let me know in the comments below.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Thanks for the tips! The bottom portion of my abs need some work. The top are looking great, but it’s uneven.

    I’ll ramp it up.

    Yahoo ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, I hear you. It may be that you have a greater amount of body fat hiding your lower abs (ramp up your cardio!) or it could truly be that your lower abs need more developing. When I exercise my abs, I break them up into different days – and lower abs is its own day. Things like legs lifts are great to target that area.

  2. Something that has really helped me in my ab workouts is to think about my abs while I’m doing them and SQUEEZE them while I’m doing the exercises.

    Diet is a huge part of showing off those abs though, and my biggest downfall.

    • This is a very good point that holds true for any body part. Concentrating on the muscle you are working really helps the intensity through some biofeedback.

  3. Why Mario Lopez? He’s so obnoxious and gross!

  4. John Johnson says:

    How often should I work out my abs? Is twice a week too little?

  5. The problem I have is cramping in the abdominal area after doing crunches, etc. Is there a way to get past this?

    Like the adviceyou give here.

  6. Hi!

    I have a question. Im 18 and about 5’7″ and 120 pounds and really want to bulk up because I feel so uncomfortable with my body. Can you help me with ways that I can gain weight and gain muscle at the same time?

    -Dane ๐Ÿ˜€


  1. […] on the weight that you use) – which is super important when it comes to progression. People have a tendency not to train their abs progressively, and ankle weights help thwart […]