Get Washboard Abs in 12 Weeks With HIIT, Weights, and Supplements


Get Washboard Abs in 12 Weeks

I grew up watching tons of high-octane action movies. The star of every tough-guy flick rocked an incredible body with the crown jewel of fitness: washboard abs.

As a teenager, I was convinced that a few hundred sit-ups each day would get me a six pack in no time.

My stomach was sore every morning, but I never achieved that coveted washboard look.

Now I understand that Chris Hemsworth didn’t become Thor on accident. Movie stars have a complete plan they follow to achieve their physiques.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman because she changed her entire approach, not by including a few sit-ups.

To get a serious set of washboard abs, you need a strategy that includes weight training, cardio, and the support of well-timed supplements.

Get Those Washboard Abs

While some people use the term abs to refer to the entire front of your midsection, it’s actually short for rectus abdominis.

This is a paired muscle that connects your pubic bone to your rib cage. It’s mainly there for posture (i.e. staying upright) but it also performs the familiar crunch motion.

The term six pack refers to the round muscle bellies that can be seen when your body fat percentage is low, and your abs have hypertrophied. Everybody is different in this regard, with anywhere from four to 10 divisions visible.

The take home point is that having amazing abdominals is a combination of being lean and muscular. Your focus on this plan will be using cardio to burn off excess body fat, weights to build your physique, and supplements to help fuel you.

Your entire body will look incredible while you become more fit.

Torch Fat in Half the Time

The biggest hurdle to being able to show off your abs is body fat. There are plenty of huge, strong shot putters and weightlifters who would have six packs if not for the extra weight around their middles.

High-intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, is the most effective fat-burning method. HIIT alternates between periods of high-intensity cardio and periods of lower intensity.

This is in contrast to steady-state cardio where you go about the same speed for the entire time you exercise. When you go for a jog, walk on a treadmill, or ride a couple of miles on a bike, you’re doing steady-state exercise.

Studies comparing the fat-loss methods found that HIIT and steady-state exercise have approximately the same effect on losing weight. The caveat here is that you’re going to spend almost twice the amount of time doing steady-state.

If you want to maximize the calories you expend, you need to use a method like HIIT.

Create an Incredible Physique

When you are losing weight, you need to focus on both burning fat and retaining muscle. The reason behind the fat loss part should be pretty obvious, but you may not understand the importance of muscle.

Here’s the bad news: it is possible to lose weight and end up looking worse.

Muscle is what gives your physique its shape. If you lose weight the wrong way, your body will eat your muscles for calories. Whether you’re looking at lithe models or massive wrestlers, their figures are defined by lean tissue.

Lean tissue doesn’t just help you look good, it’s also essential to maintaining your level of fat burning. The heavier you are, the more calories you burn both during exercise and in your daily life. As you lose weight (no matter what its makeup,) you expend fewer calories.

Lifting weights during a fat-loss period ensures your body retains its muscle. This keep the amount of energy you use at rest high. Most beginners can gain muscle while losing the fat, burning more calories during exercise and at rest.

The best choice for fat loss is full-body workouts. These workouts hit all your major muscle groups with exercises such as the squat, bench press, and pullup. They build the most strength, create the most muscle, and burn the most calories in the weight room.

The demand of heavy lifting also ensures your muscle isn’t cannibalized for calories. Your body assumes everything you do is necessary for survival. If it thinks only the strongest shall survive, it’ll ensure you keep that awesome figure.

Feed the Beast


Get Washboard Abs in 12 Weeks

Abs are made in the kitchen. You can’t out-train a bad diet. There are piles of these clichés, but they are 100% true. As mentioned in the HIIT section, washboard abs are mainly a function of having low body fat.

While it varies a little bit, 10% body fat is the benchmark for gentlemen while 15% is an admirable target for ladies.

Find a diet that incorporates plenty of lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh vegetables. You should log all your meals to see how many calories you’re consuming.

A general rule of thumb is that you need 12 times your bodyweight in calories on workout days and 10 times your bodyweight on other days. After you have this out of the way, use supplements to fill in the gaps in your diet.

Protein Powder

Taking a protein supplement helps you feel full and ensures you have plenty of material for building muscle. Protein is also thermogenic, meaning you actually net fewer calories than what’s on the nutrition facts.

Eating one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is the most effective rule of thumb. Remember that this is your entire protein intake for the day, not just supplements. Almost everything you eat has at least some protein in it.

If you eat animal products, I recommend a whey protein powder. It digests easily and contains naturally occurring BCAAs (more on these later). If you don’t eat dairy, a brown rice or pea protein supplement is an excellent alternative.

Post-workout is an outstanding time to drink your shake. Your body is ready for some protein and your insulin sensitivity is low, so calories are less likely to be stored as fat.

A double serving is fine here, but don’t consume any more than that if you need it to meet your daily requirement. Your body can only use so much protein at one time.

If you still need more protein, drink a shake immediately before your meals. This blunts your appetite by filling you up on water and lean calories before you ever pick up a fork. A shake before dinner is an excellent way to avoid nighttime munchies.


Branched-chain amino acids help build and maintain lean tissue. They assist in protein synthesis, which your body needs for muscle building. When you’re in a caloric deficit, creating more muscle is a low priority for your brain.

High protein intake from your supplement combined with BCAAs gives your body the materials it needs to continue making gains.

Equally important, BCAAs help prevent protein breakdown. When you’re eating fewer calories, your body may consume muscle to steal those much-needed amino acids. Remember, less muscle makes you look worse and burn less fat.

If you have BCAAs in your system, there’s less chance that muscle breakdown will occur.

While these two benefits are enormous on their own, BCAAs also improve your workouts. They are easily processed by your body, so they can be used for extra energy if you take them before your workouts.

Another amino acid called tryptophan is turned into serotonin by your brain. This neurotransmitter can make you feel fatigued when you’re exercising, making you less likely to push.

Because BCAAs are also amino acids, they can block tryptophan by taking its place in your brain. This fuels your mind and decreases levels of workout-killing serotonin.

Fish Oil

This supplement is a concentrated form of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish meat. Fish oil helps you reduce your midsection and gain muscle.

A study found that fish oil helps boost exercise-induced fat loss. Even better, the loss occurred mainly around the belly.

It has been shown to increase muscle mass by affecting nutrient partitioning. This means that calories that might otherwise be stored as fat are transferred to your muscles.

Take the recommended dose of fish oil with a meal or your pre-food protein shake. This helps your body process it better than if you consumed it on an empty stomach.

HIIT the Gym

The bench press, squat, overhead press, and deadlift all follow the same protocol. You will warm up with the empty bar for a set of 10 reps. Then do sets of five, increasing the weight slowly until you hit your 10-rep max. Increase the top set next workout by either 5 or 10 pounds (depending on exercise).

If your 10-rep max on the bench is 135, your workout might look like this:

  • Bar x 10
  • 65 lbs x 5
  • 95 lbs x 5
  • 115 lbs x 5
  • 135 lbs x 5

The next workout would look similar, except your top set would be with 140 pounds. If you ever hit a weight you can’t do for five reps, it’s time to start over.

The next time you do the exercise, find a new 10-rep max and begin anew. Do not restart all the exercises, only the one you couldn’t complete.

Become Super

Your upper body exercises will be performed in a superset. That means you will do one set of the first exercise (the bench press in the first workout) followed immediately by a set of the second (dumbbell rows).

Because they use different muscle groups, your muscles are actually resting while doing the other exercise. This is more time efficient and burns more calories.

Take a Break

You have no rest between the first and second exercise of the superset. After the second exercise, rest 30-60 seconds before performing the first exercise.

Similarly, give yourself no more than 30-60 seconds between sets of sit-ups or hanging leg raises. Rest two or three minutes between sets of deadlift and squat.

Workout 1


I prefer to start by foam rolling my legs, glutes, and lats before performing dynamic stretches. After bodyweight squats, lunges, and shoulder dislocates, I feel ready to go. If you know you need something to feel right, insert it here.

1A Bench Press

See above, add 5 pounds every workout.

1B Dumbbell Rows

Perform 10 reps on each arm. Use the same weight for all sets, somewhere around your 12-rep max. If you fail to hit 10 reps on any set, you need to go lighter.

2 Squat

See above, add 10 pounds every workout.

3 Sit-ups

Do three sets of 10 reps. Feel free to hold a weight if that is too easy.


See below.

Workout 2


1A Overhead Press

See above, add 5 pounds every workout.

1B Pull-ups

This is a superset with the press. Take your rep max on the pull-up then cut it in half, rounding down. For instance, if you can normally do a maximum of five reps, you will do sets of two between sets of the press.

2 Deadlift

See above, add 10 pounds every workout.

3 Hanging Leg Raises

Do three sets of 10 reps.


See below.

Exercise Instructions

Exercise Instructions

If you’re limited by equipment or injury, you can find substitutes below. I have listed them in my preferred order, so do the first option if possible.

Note that not liking an exercise is terrible reason not to do it. Generally, you don’t like it because you’re not good at it. This means you should focus on this exercise more, not less.

Bench Press

Substitutes: Dumbbell bench press, incline press, weighted dips

Position yourself on the bench with your eyes directly under the bar. This allows you to bench without hitting the rack. Pinch your shoulder blades together and keep them in this position for the entire lift.

Set your feet solidly on the ground like you’re about to do a heavy squat. Take an even grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Take the bar out of the rack and lower in under control to the highest part of the chest. Immediately reverse this motion, pushing against the ground with your feet.


Substitutes: Hex-bar deadlift, sumo deadlift

Stand with your feet just under your hips, so close that the bar is nearly touching your shins. Pushing your hips back to keep your shins approximately vertical, take an even, shoulder-width grip.

Keeping your lower back flat, push your feet into the ground and stand up. Push your hips back to lower the bar to the floor.


Substitutes: Front squat, goblet squat

Set the bar across your shoulders and grip it with your hands. Stand to lift the bar from the rack, then take one step back with each foot to clear the pegs.

Reposition your feet so they’re about shoulder width. Keeping the weight in the middle of each foot, squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.

Feel free to go deeper if you can do some comfortably with a flat lower back. Push with your feet to stand, again keeping the weight in the middle of your feet.

Overhead Press

Substitutes: Dumbbell overhead press, seated overhead press, incline press

This is a standing barbell overhead press. If you are comfortable cleaning the bar to your chest, feel free. If not, taking the barbell out of the rack is fine.

Grip the bar evenly just outside your shoulders. Bracing your abs, press the bar upward.

There should be little to no leaning back, even with heavier weights. Watch the bar as you lower it to avoid hitting your face or head (this is easier than it sounds).


Substitutes: Alternate pullup grips, barbell rows, assisted pullups

I recommend a supinated (palms away from you) grip just outside your shoulders for pullups. Depending on the equipment available and your injury history, this may not be possible. Use what works for you.

Grip the bar or pullup handles before pulling as high as you can (chin over bar at minimum). Lower yourself under control to the start position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows to avoid joint hyperextension.

Dumbbell rows

Substitutes: Cable rows, machine rows, barbell rows

Grab a dumbbell in one hand, then bend over, using your opposite hand to support yourself on a bench. Pull upward until the weight reaches your armpit, then slowly lower it to the start position.

Hanging Leg Raises

Substitutes: Chair leg raises, lying leg raises

While hanging from a pullup bar, raise your legs as high as you can, preferably toes to the bar. If this variation is too difficult, bend your legs to raise your knees up until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the ground.


Substitutes: Crunches

Place your feet under a sturdy object or have a partner hold them down. Roll your neck and upper back up so that your lower back is pressed into the ground.

Continue to raise your torso until your head nearly touches your knees. Reverse the motion, letting your lower back touch first before uncoiling your upper back and neck.

You can place your hands behind your head as long as you don’t pull on your neck. If you find the temptation too great, cross your arms over your chest instead.


Your body is a survivor. It can adapt to almost anything you throw at it. If you want to continue to burn calories, you need to change the routine.

Your HIIT workouts are going to increase in either overall time or intensity every two weeks. This gives you time to get used to the exercise while still throwing your body the occasional change-up.

While you can technically choose any exercise for the HIIT workout, you’re going to use the stationary bike. It’s simple, effective, and easy on the joints.

Weeks 1 & 2

5-Minute Warm-up: Pedal at a nice, easy pace. You should be warm from weights, but this gives your muscles more specific preparation and burns calories.

10-Minute Interval Period (15 sec/45 sec): When you hit five minutes, you’re going to increase the bike resistance (if necessary) and pedal as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Follow this up with 45 seconds at your warm-up pace. Repeat for 10 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: Your body should be ready for a break, return to your warm-up pace.

Weeks 3 & 4

5-Minute Warm-up: See above

15-Minute Interval Period (15 sec/45 sec): Same as above, but for 15 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: See above

Weeks 5 & 6

5-Minute Warm-up: See above

10-Minute Interval Period (10 sec/20 sec): This is 10 seconds at full speed followed by 20 seconds at warm-up speed. This is less time, but much less rest as well. Do this for 10 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: See above

Weeks 7 & 8

5-Minute Warm-up: See above

15-Minute Interval Period (10 sec/20 sec): Same as above, but for 15 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: See above

Weeks 9 & 10

5-Minute Warm-up: See above

10-Minute Interval Period (25 sec/35 sec): This is 25 seconds at full speed followed by 35 seconds at warm-up speed. Do this for 10 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: See above

Weeks 11 & 12

5-Minute Warm-up: See above

15-Minute Interval Period (25 sec/35 sec): Same as above, but for 15 minutes.

5-Minute Cool-down: See above

Now Is the Time

Battling through hard workouts on a caloric deficit isn’t easy. You will be under a lot of stress, so don’t take on any more challenges. This plan doesn’t pair well with a career change or addition to the family.

Find ways to motivate yourself with photos of your favorite physiques, new clothes, or rewarding yourself when you reach waypoints on the way to your goal.

Your transformation will be incredible whether you have washboard abs in 12 weeks or not. Track your progress by weighing yourself and measuring your waistline at the same time every week.

Take a picture of yourself in a bathing suit before you start and then once every four weeks. You will have a time-lapsed portrait featuring you turning into a superhero.

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