Skinny Abs – 3 Steps to Powerful Abs if You’re Skinny

Skinny Abs

Everyone is different and has their own personal fitness goals and aspirations.

More often than not, people associate fitness goals with losing weight.

But, for some, that is absolutely not the case. In fact, it may even be the opposite.

For people that are skinny, they may want to build muscle and look more toned, and today, we’re going to be looking at how to get your skinny abs popping!

Skinny abs can be pretty tricky to get.

If your body mass is already on the smaller side, it can often be more difficult to get a desired look because you’re going to have to build rather than lose, which is what most people need to do.

But don’t lose hope!

We’ve got you with the 3 steps to abs if you’re skinny and ready to show off that six-pack you’ve always wanted!

Step 1: Need to Build Muscle

Most people know that if someone is skinny, they will more often than not have a lower fat percentage.

But what you may not realize is that with a lower fat percentage can also come lower muscle mass.

In order to get abs if you’re skinny, you must do strength training exercises at least three times per week.

Skinny Abs

Just because you’re going for washboard abs doesn’t mean that you should solely do ab exercises.

Of course, include them in your workout, but also look at toning your chest, shoulders, arms, back and legs.

Focusing on building muscle can sometimes feel overwhelming.

So, if you’re not sure where to begin or what exercises to work on, start with the “big three”, which are three staple exercises for those who are looking to build muscle.

The “big three” are…


There are so many benefits to incorporating squats into your routine!

Not only do they build muscle mass in your legs and glutes, but they also improve your core and help prevent injuries.

Not to mention, there are lots of variations for this move.

Skinny Abs

To start, you could do bodyweight squats and move into adding weights.

You could also start by doing a 7 day squat challenge to start burning and building your muscles.


Deadlifts are another full-body workout that will build muscles in your legs, arms, and core.

They are a go-to move for bodybuilders and lifting enthusiasts alike who really want to get some excellent results!

Depending on your level of fitness and strength, you can start deadlifts with body weight and work your way up to heavier weights.

Another great alternative to deadlifts are good mornings, which achieve similar goals, but require less weight to see results.

Either way, good mornings and deadlifts are a great way to build muscle!

Bench Press

While you can do the previous workouts in the “big three” easily at home, the bench press will require some extra equipment or a gym, but the benefits will be well worth it!

If you are a beginner, you could get away with using hand weights for a bench press, but as time moves on, you will notice that you’re going to need to push yourself and really add weight to see results!

Skinny Abs

The “big three” is just a starting point for you!

There are all kinds of exercises and resistance training options out there that will suit your level of strength and expertise in this area.

If your goal is to get abs if you’re skinny, start with lifting weights about three days per week to begin building the muscle you need to get the abs you desire.

Step 2: Abs are Made in the Kitchen

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “abs are made in the kitchen.”

Well, the phrase is so popular because it really is true!

For people who are already thin, it can really be harder sometimes to make their abs pop.

Normal sized people can just lose some weight and their ab muscles will become visible because they are under layers of fat.

Skinny folks, however, don’t have as many muscles and there really isn’t any fat hiding it.

So, instead of working to lose weight, people who are on the thinner side looking to get abs need to eat plenty of low fat, high-protein foods to continue building muscles alongside their workouts.

It’s suggested that to add definition and bulk, you’ll need to incorporate .8 to 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight per day; and if you’re not used to eating so much protein, this can be a lot to take on!

While there are lots of ways to add protein into your diet, here are a few of our favorite tips…

Start Your Day with Eggs

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a bagel or a big bowl of cereal, you may start your day a little too carb-heavy.

Try swapping out your typical breakfast with something more hearty, like eggs and bacon or sausage.

If you do this, you’re already well on your way to meeting your protein goal!

Skinny Abs

Drink Protein Shakes

Maybe you’re not an egg fan for breakfast?

Or you have more of a sweet tooth? Have no fear! Protein shakes are here!

Whether you have one for breakfast in the morning or substitute your afternoon snack, it’s a great and delicious way to get more protein in your diet!

Some protein powders can deliver up to 30 grams of protein per serving!

Add More Protein to Your Salad

Salads are so versatile!

With endless toppings and options, you can find a salad for anyone.

If you are making a salad, try to focus on adding more protein than just the meat on top.

For example, you could sprinkle your salad with almond slices, pecans, chickpeas, and more.

Skinny Abs

If you’re looking for some more salad inspiration, be sure to check out our 20 Tempting Low Carb Salads.

Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Snack time is the perfect time to add more protein and really build some muscles.

Nuts and seeds will do just the trick!

Whether you only have time to grab a handful of cashews and almonds, or you make a snack using nut butters, like an apple dipped in peanut butter, have fun with it.

Of course, protein isn’t the only thing you should focus on if you’re wanting to get those rocking skinny abs, but it’s a great start!

Step 3: Best Ab Exercises

Along with building muscle through strength training and getting your diet on track, you’re also going to need to pinpoint your desired area if you really want to grow those skinny abs.

So, the final step to larger abs if you’re skinny is to incorporate more abdominal exercises into your everyday life.

While we could go on for days about the countless exercises and the specific muscles targeted with each one, we’re going to keep it simple.

Here are the top 5 exercises you should start doing to get abs…


This isometric hold is one of the most underrated and effective abdominal exercises.

If done correctly, you will be firing all parts of both your inner and outer abs in this killer exercise.

Skinny abs

While there are many variations, the most traditional plank is where you are in a push-up position, tightening your mid region, and holding for 30 to 60 seconds.

To get in the habit, you could do a 60 second plank every morning as soon as you wake up.


While the plank is more about holding steady and working your abs while staying still, crunches are just the opposite.

You are moving in a way that will specifically target a particular region of your abs depending on the variation.

skinny abs

To do a traditional crunch, you will lie on your back with your hands behind your head and feet flat on the ground.

As you are looking up, you will crunch your shoulders and upper back off the ground while tightening your abs. 

To add resistance, hold a barbell plate or a medicine ball in your hands to increase core muscle growth.

If you want to know some more variations, be sure to check out our 15 Different Types of Crunches!


Weird name, right?

Well, you won’t think twice about the name once you reap the results from this amazing abdominal exercise!

To achieve a proper Deadbug, you will begin lying on the ground with your arms straight up in the air and the lower half of your legs up and parallel to the floor.

As you tighten your abs, you will slowly drop one arm and the opposite leg making it hover a few inches off the ground.

Dumbbell Side Bend

If you’re looking for a more nontraditional ab exercise, you can try a dumbbell side bend.

The great thing about this exercise is that you can start with a lighter weight and work your way up as you build muscle mass and strength!

To achieve a dumbbell side bend, you will stand straight with a dumbbell in each arm.

As you exhale, squeeze your abs as you allow one dumbbell to drop and rise back up.

Russian Twists

Russian twists are another great way to incorporate strength training with a skinny ab exercise.

The great thing about this exercise is that it can easily be effective with no weights, or you can really push yourself by using whatever you have available (medicine ball, kettlebell, dumbbell, etc).

With Russian twists, start in a seated position with your feet flat on the ground and knees up.

Lean slightly back and alternate touching each side of ground next to your hips.

To add even more intensity, lift your feet slightly off the ground as well!


Some skinny people lack overall muscles and therefore might not have many abs to speak of (skinny abs). 

But, by following the three steps outlined above, you can shake the skinny abs and find your ripped six pack.

Step 1 – Need to Build Muscles.  Start with the “big three” exercises. 

Squats, Deadlifts & Bench Press.  By doing these big three, you will begin to pack on the muscle.

Step 2 – Abs Are Made in the Kitchen.  To help your body increase muscle growth, increase your overall protein intake while keeping the fat intake low. 

Eat eggs, protein shakes, protein filled salads and nuts. 

Before you know it, your skinny abs should start becoming more muscular.

Step 3 – Best Abs Exercises.  Be sure to work these abs exercises into your workouts. 

Planks, Weighted Crunches, Dead Bug exercise, Dumbbell Side Bends and Russian Twists. 

By performing these three steps, with time and dedication, your skinny abs will become ripped abs.

Photo of author

Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!

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