For many men and women having a chiselled mid-section is their number one fitness goal. This gives them huge practical benefits.

Your core – the muscles around your mid-section - is the link between your upper and lower body so a strong core, including strong abs, is vital for all heavy lifting movements and most dynamic sports.

Building a six-pack can also maintain good posture and prevent back pain. An important part of developing defined abs is to get rid of excess flab around your stomach.

The biggest mistake people make is thinking that doing endless crunches will give them a six-pack.

man working out
Endless crunches won't necessarily lead to a six pack...

Follow these tips for a chiselled six-pack:

1.  Warm up
Prepare your muscles before every workout with this routine. Doing a warm-up before your workout can seem like valuable time wasted but it's worth spending 10 or 15 minutes warming up to prevent injury occurring.

Do some light running, cycling or rowing – this elevates your body temperature which means your muscles are more elastic so you can work them through a greater range of motion.

2.  Don't just do sit-ups
There is no single best move for building a solid six-pack, least of all the simple sit-up. Raising your chest to your knees mainly works hip flexors, not the abdominals.

3.  Work your whole body
Compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts require the abs to provide stability throughout the move, which will stimulate both the deep-lying and outer core muscles to build a strong stable mid-section.

women working out
Work your whole body with compound exercises

4.  Keep cardio short
Cardio exercise should revolve around interval and hill sessions rather than long steady-paced runs to maximise calorie burn and help shift the layer of fat that will keep all our hard work hidden.

5.  Mix it up
Variation is the key to keeping your abs working and developing. If you just repeat the same old routine and don't introduce any new exercises, your muscles will stop responding.

6.  Treat the abs like any other muscle
To build your abs, work them like you would your other major muscle groups. Start with sets of 10 to 15 repetitions and increase the intensity by adding extra sets as your abs get stronger.

7.  Have perfect posture
Maintaining good posture throughout the day, even when you're sitting at your desk, will activate those all-important deep-lying stabilising muscles that are vital for a strong core, so sit upright!

back pain
Be sure to work on your posture when you're at your desk

8.  Don't ignore the deep-lying muscles
Performing exercises such as the plank works the inner core muscles which provide the stability that allows the outer muscles to become bigger and stronger.

9.  Use a stability ball
Training on an unstable surface such as a stability ball recruits for more muscle fibres to hold you steady than on a flat environment.  All these fibres receive microscopic tears which are repaired and so grow back bigger and stronger.

10.  Work your back muscles
One common fault is people forget to incorporate back exercises with the abdominal exercises. Having short tight back muscles and long weak abdominal muscles while training will lead to injury so by incorporating Pilates into your weekly workout, you will rectify any muscle imbalances.

pilates class
Work your back muscles with a Pilates class

Upper Abs Workout

  • Skip x 60 secs / Crunch 15 reps x 3 sets x 3-4 rounds
  • Crunch
  • Curl shoulders off the floor
  • Hold at the top of the move
  • Feet flat on the floor

Lower Abs Workout

  • Skip x 60 secs / Reverse crunch 15 reps x 3 sets x 3-4 rounds
  • Reverse crunch
  • Knees bent at 90°
  • Hands touching side of head
  • Curl knees towards your chest

Obliques Workout

  • Skip x 60 secs / Crossover twist crunch 15 reps x 3 sets x 3-4 rounds
  • Crossover twist crunch
  • One hand touching side of head
  • Curl elbow towards opposite knee
  • Repeat on other side

Consult your physician or other health care professional before starting a new fitness programme.