“Washboard abs” is the term many people use to refer to the grouping of abdominal muscles when they're visible beneath the skin and appear flat, like a washboard. In most people, the abdominal muscles are hidden beneath a layer of fat; the thicker the layer, the less likely it is that the muscles will be visible. The abdominal muscles are most evident when they are tensed.
Many people want to achieve washboard abs, but the fact is that most people already have them. What they also have is that layer of fat over the top. Unfortunately, while it's possible to work a particular muscle group to bulk it up and increase its definition relative to surrounding muscles, this area of fat cannot be similarly targeted. When the body burns fat for energy, it doesn't follow a set routine in determining which areas to burn. In fact, the body usually stores new fat on the gut, so someone could conceivably go through strenuous ab workouts regularly, yet keep adding fat because of an improperly balanced diet.
To achieve washboard abs, then, the layer of fat covering the abdomen must be eliminated. Any good workout regimen will accomplish this over time, as will many common-sense routines, such as daily walking, running or swimming programs. While it does no harm to incorporate ab-targeted exercises into a balanced workout routine in order to enhance the definition of the muscles, it's important for individuals to keep in mind that these workouts, as well as the multitude of devices sold to enhance ab muscle development, will work the muscles but will have only a peripheral impact on the fat that covers them.
On the other hand, when the layer of fat is significant, concentrating on working the ab muscles while ignoring the others will lead to frustration and disillusionment, because the fat loss around the gut will be very gradual even while the ab muscles themselves are being developed and strengthened. Getting washboard abs is best accomplished as part of a balanced routine of exercise and a healthy diet.
Achieving and maintaining well defined ab muscles is dependent on maintaining both a healthy diet and a balanced exercise routine. It's a simple equation; of all the calories a person consumes during the day, whatever isn't burned for energy is stored as fat. Not all calories are the same, however; some are carried in foods that provide an appropriate amount of nutrients, fiber, proteins, and carbohydrates, and others are carried in foods that are primarily sugars and other carbohydrates. A healthy diet is composed primarily of fresh vegetables and meats, and should be designed with a person's own lifestyle in mind.