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6-Pack For The First Time in Your Life
The Truth About Seeing Your Abs and Building Your Core
We all have abs—this is a simple fact of anatomy. So why don’t you have a six pack? More than likely it’s because your abs are covered by a layer of body fat. This is the issue 99% of the time. The only other way you wouldn’t see them is if the abdominals aren’t developed. If this is the case, focusing on your abs won’t help. Overall, you should be focusing on becoming stronger and more muscular.
Building your core strength is a huge component in any program. A strong core is a healthy core. Abs aren’t only an aesthetic muscle, they are immensely crucial in supporting compound lifts.
Body fat percentage will be the main determining factor on whether or not you can see your abs. This is because abs are located under the fat, not on top of the fat—unless you have visceral fat (fat located under the muscles in the abdomen), which is extremely problematic in it’s own way (think fatty organs, type 2 diabetes, etc.).
Abs will start to become visible around 12% body fat. It’s important you know what 12% looks like because most people are way off with their estimations. Honesty with ourselves is crucial for fitness progress.
How do we get there? The answer isn’t 1000 crunches—that won’t make the abs poke through the fat. You get there by following a caloric deficit and losing fat until you’re lean enough to see the abs. This is the ONLY answer.
Do not buy into programs that promise you a 6-pack without even mentioning diet. You are being misled and lied to. Diet will 100% determine your results in seeing your abs.
If you want actionable information on how to achieve this, I suggest reading my post HERE on Fat Loss 101.
Building The Abdominals
This isn’t to say that diet is the only component of a nice 6-pack—you will also need to develop them the same way you do all other muscles. Train to build them up, diet down to get them to show.
Typically performing compound lifts will suffice to strengthen and grow your abs as your core will be the main stabilizer on the lift. However, I do believe in isolating the abs 2-3 times a week to further develop these muscles.
A few sets will be more than enough to stimulate growth; you do not need to do 1000 crunches a day for this—that is very redundant. Below I will list some of my favorite ab exercises and a simple routine if you would like to devote a block of your workout to hammer abs.
Skinny Abs Aren’t Abs
If you can see your abs by default of being a twig, it doesn’t count. You need to add some mass to your frame. Not to bring vanity into this, but no one ever saw a 6-foot, 140lbs person with abs and was impressed.
Get under the iron, add 15-20lbs of lean muscle mass—then and only then, can you say you have a 6-pack. If you say you don’t want to be bigger and stronger you’re lying to yourself—cut it out.
This is partially a joke, mostly serious. Muscle mass is healthy for the body and will help you defeat gravity as you age. This is how you maintain relative health and fitness in your later years of life. Lifting weights will increase your bone density and reduce your risk for chronic illness.
Simple Ab Routine (No Gym Needed)
4 Rounds (2-3 minutes rest between rounds)
Crunch x 25
Rest x 10 Seconds
Side Crunch x 15 each side
Rest x 10 Seconds
Reverse Crunch x 10
Rest x 10 Seconds
30 Second Plank
This will be a smoker for some, easy for others. Manipulate the numbers to make it challenging and obtainable for yourself. You could add these at the end of a workout for a good finisher. I do not suggest doing this more than 1-2 times a week, abs need to rest and recover like all other muscle groups.
The 5 Step TLDR to seeing your 6-pack for the first time:
You need to be around 12% body fat to see your defined abs.
Diet down to 12% by staying in a caloric deficit.
Train your abs through compound lifts.
Isolate your abs 2-3 times a week.
If you can see your 6-pack because you’re skinny, it doesn’t count, add more muscle mass.
The old saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” is absolutely correct. Losing fat will be your first step to seeing your abs for the first time. It is also very important as this will have you in a very healthy body fat range and put you in a good place to start adding muscle to your frame.
I think it’s important for everyone, at least one time in their life, to achieve a 6-pack. Not only will you look great and feel great, you will have a real sense of accomplishment knowing you reached your goal, and what you learned about yourself on your way there.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.