If you look at most statues of ancient Greek and Roman gods, it’s hard not to be envious of their lean and powerful physiques. They are often depicted as warriors and have the bodies to match. While, except for Zeus, they might not be bodybuilder big, most have the athletic shape that many exercisers dream of.
One of the features that many of these sculptures share is known as Adonis belt. This refers to the V-shaped grooves on the lower part of the abdomen that are just above the hip bones. An Adonis belt really ‘frame” the sides and bottom of your abs and a lot of exercisers really want one of their own.
In this article, we’ll reveal the best strategies for sculpting your very own Adonis belt.
What is an Adonis Belt?
Adonis belt, also known as an Apollo’s belt, is a band of connective tissue that passes through the oblique or waist muscles, across the front of your pelvis, and attaches onto the front of the iliac spine. Rather than being a muscle, the Adonis belt is actually a ligament, which means you can’t make it bigger. The proper name for this band of connective tissue is the inguinal ligament (1).
To reveal your Adonis belt, you need to reduce your body fat to below 15%. This will ensure that there is much less fat covering this area, and these ligaments can then be seen through your skin. The truth is you already have an Adonis belt – it’s just hiding under a layer of fat!
While 15% body fat should reveal your Adonis belt, some people may need to reduce their percentage more than this for it to become visible. It all depends on where you tend to store the most fat. If you have a lot of fat on your lower abdomen, you may need to reduce your body fat percentage to 10% or less.
Some people attempt to spot reduce fat from their abdomen with high rep abs exercises like crunches and sit-ups. Unfortunately, this is not an effective practice, and spot reduction has been proven to be a myth (2).
Instead, if you are serious about developing an Adonis belt, you need to adopt a much more holistic approach to training and nutrition.
Diet to get an Adonis belt
Effective fat loss starts with proper nutrition. You need to eat fewer calories than your body needs to force your body to burn stored body fat for energy. An easy way to do this is to cut down on processed, sugary junk foods, alcohol, soda, and any other sources of “empty calories.” Empty calories are foods that provide energy but very few vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Instead, you should build your diet around healthy, natural foods that are lower in calories, such as vegetables and whole grains.
Another good fat loss strategy is to increase your protein intake as you reduce your consumption of carbohydrates. Protein has a higher thermal effect than carbohydrates. This means your body uses more energy to ingest, digest, and utilize protein than it does carbs.
The thermal effect for protein is between 20-30%, which means for every 100 calories of protein you eat, 20-30 calories are used during digestion (3). High protein foods are also more filling. In contrast, the terminal effect of carbs is between 5-10%, and they tend to be much less satiating.
Workouts for fat loss
The best type of training for fat loss involves large groups of muscles working together. This type of workout will get your heart pumping much more than localized abs exercises and will help you burn fat faster. Good choices include:
- Running and sprinting
- Jumping rope
- Circuit training
- Punching a heavy bag
- CrossFit-type training
To be effective, you should try and clock up about three hours of fat-burning exercise per week. Supplement this with regular strength training to prevent muscle loss. Focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, and bench presses to build all-over muscle mass and strength. Both split routines and full-body workouts are useful, so choose the approach that works best for you.
The best abs exercises for an Adonis belt
While there are no special exercises you can do for the inguinal ligament that forms your Adonis belt, you can make it more prominent by increasing the thickness of the muscle beneath it – the transverse abdominus, or TVA for short.
The TVA encircles the inside your entire abdomen and, when contracted, pulls inward to stabilize your spine. Think of the TVA as your natural weightlifting belt. You use your TVA whenever you “brace” your abs to lift something heavy – such as during deadlifts. However, several exercises specifically target your TVA.
This is arguably the easiest TVA exercise you can do. If you can hold a plank for more than 60 seconds, it is not hard enough for you, and you need to try one of the more challenging exercises below. However, if you are a beginner, the plank is an excellent way to teach you how to use your TVA properly.
How to do it:
- Lie down on the floor and rest your upper body on your forearms.
- Lift your hips up so your body is straight, and your weight is on your forearms and toes only.
- Brace your abs like you are expecting to get punched in the stomach. Squeeze them tight!
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Do not lift or lower your hips and keep breathing throughout.
You can make this exercise harder by lifting one leg off the floor.
Rollouts are a sort of moving plank. They expose your muscles much more instability and tension, making them a very demanding TVA exercise. If you have mastered planks, this is the next exercise you should try.
How to do it:
- With an ab wheel in your hands, kneel down on a folded exercise mat for comfort.
- Place the wheel on the floor in front of your knees.
- With straight arms, push the wheel away from you and lower your chest down toward the floor. Extend your arms as far as your core strength allows.
- Use your abs to pull the ab wheel back into your knees.
- Do not relax your abs or allow your lower back to arch at any time.
If you can do 10 or more reps of regular ab wheel rollouts, up the intensity by doing barbell rollouts instead. Load a bar with two evenly sized, round weight plates, and do the rollouts as before. The extra weight will make this exercise much harder. Increase the weight as you get stronger, working toward 45+ lbs. per side.
This old-school core exercise isolates your TVA. The great thing about this exercise is you can do it almost anywhere – even sat at your desk at work, at home, or while waiting in a queue!
- Sit or stand in a relaxed position, hands resting on your hips.
- Exhale fully without leaning forward. Lift and expand your chest without breathing in.
- Pull in your stomach and imagine you are trying to touch your spine with your belly button. Hold this contraction for a couple of seconds.
- Relax, breathe, and repeat.
For variety, you can also perform this exercise kneeling on all fours. This makes it a little harder because you’ll also have to lift the weight of your internal organs against the pull of gravity.
Summary and conclusion
An Adonis belt can add a lot to your appearance, making your abs look even more impressive. However, the only way to reveal this much sought-after core feature is to reduce your body fat level to 15% or less. That means combining a healthy, low-calorie diet with fat burning exercises like running and jumping rope. Eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates will help too.
Strength training also has a vital part to play; lifting weights will help persevere or even increase your muscle mass, which will speed up your metabolism and accelerate fat burning.
No amount of crunches will spot reduce fat from your midsection, but some direct transverse abdominus training may help make your inguinal ligament more prominent. Planks, rollouts, and vacuums are all good choices.
While some people can get an Adonis belt easily, others will need to work harder. Genetics play a big part in abdominal leanness. However, if you train hard and eat clean, you too can look like a statue of a Greek god!
1- Sugumar, Kavin; Gupta, Mohit (2019), “Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Inguinal (Crural, Pouparts) Ligament”, StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, PMID 31194461, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542321/
2- Ramírez-Campillo, Rodrigo; Andrade, David C.; Campos-Jara, Christian; Henríquez-Olguín, Carlos; Alvarez-Lepín, Cristian; Izquierdo, Mikel (2013-08). “Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27 (8): 2219–2224. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e8681. ISSN 1533-4287. PMID 23222084. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23222084
3- Halton, Thomas L.; Hu, Frank B. (2004-10). “The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 23 (5): 373–385. doi:10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381. ISSN 0731-5724. PMID 15466943. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943
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