Do Bodybuilders Train Abs?

Unlike what most people believe, abs are more than just the ‘six packs’.

Anatomically speaking, abs can be divided into four broad groups.

Abdominal muscles form an essential part of our core. They contribute to a great extent to muscular strength as well.

Coming over to looks, one can’t deny the captivity that well-shredded abs develop. Great abs make ANYONE stare.

As a bodybuilder, you need to focus on making your body ornamental – something to behold and basically be worth looking at.

To that cause, abs are the greatest investment there is. (There really isn’t another muscle that makes people drop their jaw at you!) Let us learn more about the sport of bodybuilding and why training abs makes you a better bodybuilder.

Do Bodybuilders Train Abs?
Do Bodybuilders Train Abs?

What Exactly is Bodybuilding?

You’ve heard of bodybuilders – big, well-built, and shredded dudes and gals. They are always in perfect shape and always doing an extra rep.

To answer our original question about abs, we first need to first get the facts straight.

Sure, everyone you see at the gym is lifting and working hard on their bodies. But at the end of the day, they have a direction in which to progress.

Some people go for great looks, some for sheer strength, while some try to strike a balance between both aspects.

As a matter of fact, bodybuilding concerns itself with making the body as attractive and muscularly shredded as possible. 

How Bodybuilders Reach Their Goals

Bodybuilders generally use methods of progressive overload to achieve this. Basically, they keep increasing the amount of work done by the muscles until it gives way and has to adapt to working hard.

This obviously requires willpower and determination. At the microscopic level, the muscles undergo a process known as hypertrophy. Through the rigorous exercises, they undergo microdamage.

As the body repairs this microdamage, the muscles grow in size. Simultaneously, the body fat is reduced. Once the body fat is reduced to a minimum, bodybuilders focus on getting the maximum out of their muscles. Most professional bodybuilders will also shave and tan their bodies. This leads to a well defined body that’s aesthetically pleasing.

What we’re trying to get at is that the underlying reason for training and lifting for bodybuilders is not to develop strength and muscular capacity. It is instead, making the body look good.

Remember that as a bodybuilder, your job is not to wrestle in a ring or lift heavy boulders, but instead to have a marvelous body that’s worth showcasing.

Let’s keep that in mind while trying to answer the question at hand – whether bodybuilders train abs or not.

What About Powerlifting And Strength Athletics?


We will deal with powerlifting and strength athletics here to bring out the difference between these two and bodybuilding. Powerlifting is defined as a strength sport. We have our first major difference here.

Powerlifters are tested on their strength. Bodybuilders are tested on their looks. Powerlifters are expected to lift barbells with specified weights on them. We have to focus on what they are really trying to do here – increase their core strength so they can use it all up in one explosive burst.

This is absolutely not the case with bodybuilding. Bodybuilders are not trying to lift a certain amount of weight or reach a maximum in terms of strength.

Instead, they are trying to look as shredded as possible. The two activities might feel similar, but they really aren’t the same thing.

Strength Athletics

Strength athletics is like the weird kid on the block. While the sport does not focus on the appearance of the athlete, it does focus a lot on the muscular strength of the person.

But the sport is quite different from powerlifting as well. Remember powerlifting is quite traditional. The sportsman is required to lift a single barbell in most cases. But the case is the opposite for strength athletes.

In strength athletics, the sports person’s strength is tested in multiple, different, non-traditional ways. These include events such as farmer’s walk, Hercules hold, vehicle pull, atlas stones, and fagal’s fingers.

We can clearly see how the three sports – bodybuilding, powerlifting and strength athletics are closely tied to the gym.

But at this point, we have also made it clear that the three sports have completely different objectives and exercise plans will have completely different trajectories.

This is important in understanding why abs are critical in bodybuilding.

While bodybuilding is all about making one’s body look good, powerlifting is all about lifting the heaviest mass and strongmen are looking to prove their strength in various different ways.

How Abs Shape Your Physique

As contributors of strength, abs do play an important role, but in the end, they are considered secondary to other more important and strength-producing muscles such as the biceps, thighs, and shoulders among others. Abs definitely should not be ignored. They make the body powerful as a whole.

This is exactly why we do not see powerlifters and strongmen focussing too much on their abs. They do not provide much strength and it is therefore not worthwhile for them to work on abs.

The story, however, is completely different for bodybuilders. Bodybuilders need to pay as much attention, if not more than other muscles to their abs. Let us try to understand why.

Importance Of Abs In Bodybuilding

As we have discussed before, the basic goal of bodybuilding is not strength but making the body look good and aesthetically pleasing. Now we simply need to ask ourselves one basic question – do the abs make the body look good? The answer to that question is an obvious yes.

A well shredded, no fat body looks great with a well-developed set of abs. Bodybuilding focuses on muscular symmetry too. Abs, therefore, become quintessential to the bodybuilding process.

Not doing abs for a bodybuilder is equivalent to a farmer sowing seeds but not harvesting them. It simply is not going to be fruitful in the long run!

In every bodybuilding competition,


Abs are like attention attractors. And there is good reason to. They give the body a well defined, muscular look that lends a powerful boost to your bodybuilding journey. The bottom line is therefore this – training abs is an absolute must for bodybuilders, without abs, there simply isn’t anything like success in this arena. 

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