5 expert fitness tips on how to get toned abs

Look up ‘how to get a flat stomach’ on Google and you’ll find a million articles claiming to know the secret. But here at Urban Sports Club we’re a little more clued up than that. We know it takes more than a few sit-ups to get the washboard look that everybody wants. So we teamed up with our friends at IGNITE to get a personal training session and nutrition advice to tell us exactly how to get ripped. And guess what? It ain’t easy…

1. Demand attention!

Dinesh and Sillse are trainers at IGNITE and experts on nutrition and core training. Dinesh explains how IGNITE aims to bridge the gap between group and personal training. “Our biggest class is eight but mostly it’s six people and we try to offer PT style training to each client.” IGNITE regularly work with people recovering from injuries, who have mobility issues or are over 50 as these people need a little extra attention while training.

“We always mix and match and recommend different classes.” Danesh explains he’ll tailor each programme to the needs of the individual and IGNITE classes focus on strength, mobility and endurance to cover the entire fitness spectrum. “The client is the priority,” Dinesh says. “Classes with twelve people is pushing the limit. For [a trainer] to take in every single detail it needs to be eight people max.”

2. Focus on nutrition

Both Dinesh and Sillse confirm what we already suspected: abs are made in the kitchen. “When people think about core training they only think about abs. They think about a six pack and looking shredded. But it’s 30% fitness and the rest is nutrition.”

Dinesh has a bank of favourite foods that he always suggests his clients add to their eating regime. But there’s one thing he never recommends. “I never tell my clients to diet. It’s like the TV show The Biggest Loser – they have a strict diet and it’s very regimental. Can they use this pattern their whole lives? No. Then when they go back to normal life they put on weight again. They don’t have a follow-up series because they’ve all put the weight back on.”

Instead Dinesh recommends making simple, informed changes that you can maintain and enjoy for a lifetime. “Get your greens in, control your carbohydrates. Fibre is really important. No matter what, fibre is key. I tell my clients to cut sugar. Cook for yourself or get a salad. Don’t eat packaged food.”

Dinesh recommends oats, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, spinach, kale and broccoli. Sillse recommends similar foods and says that yoghurt is a firm favourite as it’s a quick, healthy snack that’s packed full of protein.  “And drink a lot of water,” Sillse says.

3. Ab exercises aren’t just crunches

Today, to show us how it’s really done, Sillse has prepared an ab circuit. “We’re going to start with mobility to open up the shoulders and hips to make you more mobile. Then we’ll do a warm-up of high knees, jumping jacks and reverse lunge which is preparation for the core workout.”

Sillse has mapped out a HIIT circuit – 40 seconds of work with 20 seconds of rest, three times. Surprisingly the workout didn’t focus on just crunches – there was a lot of planking, squatting, throwing and rolling. Here’s Sillse’s (torturous) ab workout for you to try at home:

Exercise 1: TRX double leg crunch 

Exercise 2: Hold ball above head, squat and fall on to your back, roll and stand up 

Exercise 3: Ball slam to half burpee 

Exercise 4: Sit ups with med ball raised over head 

Exercise 5: Med ball slams 

Exercise 6: Bosu ball mountain climbers

4. Pay attention to your sleep patterns

Dinesh says that health and fitness is holistic. “It’s a whole circle and if you don’t have the full package you might not have a fit body.”

Stress, he says, can lead to over-eating and a build-up of fat. “Stress causes a lot of cortisol build-up which means you’ll have fat storage around the belly area. And if you don’t get the right amount of sleep that increases your stress hormones.” 

However Dinesh says that everybody is different and not all of us need eight hours of sleep every night. “When you wake up, if you feel fresh then it’s fine. If you’re tired then you need more sleep. Some people only need four hours of sleep. Some people can sleep for ten hours but it’s all about the quality of sleep.”

The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to stop drinking caffeine after 3pm, to have a consistent bedtime every evening and turn off all screens thirty minutes before going to sleep. That way you create consistent sleep patterns, make healthy habits and get a good night’s rest.


To finish off our core session Sillse created a workout that we wouldn’t forget. By the end of it we were all close to tears (although Dinesh gave up halfway through because ‘he hadn’t warmed up properly.’)

The ab crusher consisted of 3 exercises, 20 seconds, no rest:

Flutter kicks 


Knee hugs 

This circuit definitely lived up to its name. Afterwards my head said thank you IGNITE, for such a fantastic and informative experience. But my abs said: please lord never again. 

If you’d like to workout with IGNITE.FIT then check out the courses on their website.

And if you want to try a core-crushing workout like the one we did, take a look at our many fitness partners across Europe.


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