Tight, toned abdominal muscles are among the most envied body parts -- likely because they are among the most difficult to achieve. Visible abs require dedicated training and strict dieting. Many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts hold strong to the statement, "abs are made in the kitchen." If you already have relatively low body fat, it may be possible to bring your abs out in as little as 12 weeks by tweaking your diet and exercise routine.
Complete a brief warm-up of five to 10 minutes. Good warm-up exercises include a brisk walk or easy jog.
Perform three sets of 20 abdominal crunches, either on the floor or with a stability ball. Gently clasp your fingers behind your head and exhale as you crunch your body up, lifting your shoulder blades from the ground or ball. Lower your body back down and repeat.
Do leg lifts to work your lower abdominals. Lie on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees slightly and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your back pressed to the ground and lower your legs back down without letting your feet touch the ground. Repeat for three sets of 12 reps.
Perform medicine ball twists to work your obliques. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and a medicine ball at your side. Lean back slightly, bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground. Pick up the medicine ball with your hands, cross it over your body and touch it to the floor. Twist back to the other side to complete one rep. Repeat for three sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Train abs one to two days per week, just make sure you allow at least 48 hours of recovery between ab workouts. You can perform a variety of other abdominal exercises as well, including v-ups, bicycles and planks, for example.
Burn calories with the goal of burning off excess fat by performing cardiovascular exercise. The amount of cardio you need to perform depends on the amount of fat you need to lose. Aim for at least 150 minutes each week. Do a variety of workout types, including longer, lower-intensity, steady-state sessions and short, high-intensity, interval-based sessions.
Create a calorie deficit in your diet. To lose fat, you must burn more calories than you consume. In order to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you must have a daily calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories. For best results, use a combination of diet and exercise to achieve this deficit.
Reduce carbohydrate intake. To bring out abs, most people have to follow a diet rich in lean proteins such as chicken breast, tuna, eggs and lean cuts of red meat. Moderate amounts of healthy, unsaturated fats will help provide energy. Reducing your carbohydrate intake will encourage your body to burn off fat stores for energy, while also helping your shed the excess water that carbohydrates can cause you to retain. The carbs you do consume should come from fruits, vegetables and whole grain sources such as brown rice and oatmeal.
Avoid foods that cause water retention and bloating. Processed food items that are loaded with sodium and preservatives can cause your body to retain excess water, keeping your abs hidden. Similarly, foods that cause gas and bloating can puff up your midsection and prevent your abs from being visible. Common bloating culprits include carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners and certain high-fiber foods.