Some of us might want to build a little bit of muscle or a lot of muscle, or lose a little fat or a lot of fat, or get stronger, improve performance or something similar. But, there’s one thing that damn near all of us have in common…
We all want to lose our belly fat, have a flat stomach, and get that perfect six pack.
The problem is, most people can’t seem to do it. Why is that? Are they doing the wrong ab exercises? The wrong ab workouts? Not using the right fat-burning machines? Not training their abs often enough? Not doing enough sets or reps? Not taking the right supplements? Not eating the right foods?
Nope. It’s actually none of those things.
The real reason people aren’t losing their belly fat and getting that perfect six pack is because they don’t actually understand what needs to be done for those things to happen. So, please allow me to fill you in…
How Do You Get A Six Pack?
Are you ready for this? I’m about to reveal the highly complicated two step process that will allow you to get the stomach you’ve been dreaming of having once and for all. Are you ready? Here goes:
- Lower your body fat percentage.
- Maybe train your abs a little bit, too.
Taaadaaa! And honestly, #2 may very well be optional for many people.
The truth is, the big super secret key to getting a six pack (or even a two pack, four pack or eight pack for that matter) and getting the flat, lean, toned, sexy, awesome, [insert other similar adjectives here] stomach you’re trying to get is, above all else, a simple matter of just losing some body fat.
Confused? That’s cool. It’s time to un-confuse you.
You Already Have A Six Pack… You Just Can’t See It Yet
I think the best way to eliminate the majority of the confusion most people have about this stuff is by making a small change to the way we phrase what we’re trying to do.
Instead of saying we want to get a six pack, we should say we want to uncover a six pack. Because really, that’s what needs to happen.
What I mean is, your pretty abs and flat stomach already exist. Seriously, you have it all right now. We all do. The problem is, most of us can’t actually see it because it’s currently covered by a layer (or many layers) of ugly body fat. In order to see that lean stomach you’re trying to see and make your abs become visible, you just need to lose the fat that’s sitting on top of it and preventing it from being seen.
When you look at it this way, it’s really not that complicated at all, is it?
On the other hand, “getting a six pack” seems so mysterious. Who knows what you’ll need to do to “get” it? The special exercises you’ll need to do, the crazy workouts you’ll need to follow, the fancy machines you’ll need to use, the secret methods you’ll need to employ.
But to “uncover a six pack?” That sounds so simple (because it is). It gets rid of all of the nonsense that confuses and distracts people (e.g. ab workouts, exercises and machines) from understanding that the #1 thing that needs to happen here is you need to lower your body fat percentage and lose the fat that’s covering your abs.
The question now is… just how in the hell do you lose that fat and uncover your six pack?
The Most Important Part: Losing Belly Fat
How do you lose belly fat? You create a caloric deficit. Done. Next question?
Wait, what’s that you say? You need me to explain something I’ve already explained approximately 25 billion times before in a bit more detail? Alright, fine.
Your body has a certain unique amount of calories it requires per day to maintain your current weight. This number is based on everything from your age, height and weight to the thermic effect of food, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogensis) and more.
This amount of calories is called your maintenance level. It’s the amount of calories your body burns each day to do everything you need it to do (live, function, digest, move, exercise, etc.). If you consume MORE calories than this amount — meaning more calories than your body actually needed — that left over amount of calories will be stored on your body for later use, typically in the form of body fat. This is called a caloric surplus, and it’s the one thing that causes people to gain fat.
Now guess what happens when you consume LESS calories than this maintenance level amount? It causes your body to find some alternative fuel source to burn for energy instead. And guess what that alternative fuel source typically is? You guessed it… your own stored body fat.
This is known as a caloric deficit, and it is the ONE SINGLE THING that EVER causes fat to be lost from ANY part of the body.
So if you have any amount of fat you want to lose from any part of your body, the only thing you need to do is create a consistent caloric deficit by either eating less calories, burning more calories, or doing some combination of the two. That’s all there is to it. That’s all that ever works.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of what I just explained, read these: The Truth About Fat Loss and Calories In vs Calories Out
Or, better yet, just get yourself a copy of my Superior Fat Loss program.
But wait, hold on. I bet I know what certain misinformed people might be thinking now.
The Magical Powers Of Spot Reduction
If you’re like most people, you probably think various ab workouts, exercises and fancy machines are all you really need here, because they’ll magically burn your belly fat. This is why it’s so common to see people doing endless sets of infinite reps of every ab exercise there is.
Why? Because they apparently believe in an interesting concept known as spot reduction.
And by “interesting concept” I of course mean bullshit myth.
Spot reduction is the “idea” that doing an exercise for a specific body part will in some way burn the fat that is on that body part. So crunches will target belly fat and leg exercises will target leg fat and back exercises will target back fat and chest exercises will target chest fat/man boobs, and on and on and on.
Unfortunately, this is all complete nonsense. Spot reduction is nothing more than a silly myth.
In reality, exercises target muscles, not the fat that happens to be sitting on top of those muscles. So while training your abs will certainly train your abs, it’s doing nothing about the fat that is covering them. The same goes for every other body part, too.
I cover this common myth in detail right here: Spot Reduction
Then What Are You Supposed To Do?
The human body gains and loses fat in a pattern that is predetermined by our genetics and can’t be changed. So if you want to lose fat from a specific body part, you pretty much just need to lose fat, period. At some point, it will come off from the specific spot you want it to… which in this case is your stomach.
And in case you forgot, this means you need to do the one and only thing that causes fat loss: create a caloric deficit.
The Least Important Part: Ab Workouts
Once you understand that spot reduction is a myth and that all of the ab workouts and exercises in the world won’t do anything useful whatsoever in terms of helping you lose the ugly belly fat that is covering your pretty abs (which again is the big super secret here), you might begin to wonder exactly what role ab workouts play in this six pack equation anyway?
And that’s something you should be wondering, because the role is pretty small.
How small, you ask? So small that many people don’t do ANY direct ab training whatsoever and still have awesome six packs. Just lowering their body fat percentage and getting lean enough — possibly combined with various compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pull-ups, etc. that may train the abs statically to some extent — is all they need. No crunches. No leg raises. No nothing.
Do I think that’s enough for everyone? Uh, maybe. It’s certainly enough for lots of people. But, either way, I wouldn’t consider it optimal. Here’s why…
Developed Abs vs Underdeveloped Abs
You do occasionally see cases where someone gets lean enough to where they SHOULD be able to see abs, but still can’t really see abs… at least not as well as they should be able to at their level of body fat.
Why is this? Because their abs are just underdeveloped.
So yes, this sort of thing DOES happen.
Another similar thing that happens is this. Take two people with similar stats/genetics/everything else, and have Person A train their abs directly while Person B does no direct ab work of any kind. Now magically make them the same body fat percentage… something fairly lean. It’s highly likely that Person A’s abs will look better/be more visible than Person B’s to some degree despite everything else being equal.
Now granted, neither of these examples change the fact that being lean is STILL THE KEY FACTOR.
And again, MOST of the time a person claims to be lean enough to see abs but can’t see abs, the true culprit is the fact that they’re just not actually as lean as they need to be. Like virtually everyone else, their problem will be solved by losing more belly fat.
But, once that level of leanness HAS been reached, there will be some small differences in appearance based on how developed or underdeveloped a person’s abs are.
Direct Ab Training = Recommended
For all of these reasons and more, I think some direct ab training will be beneficial. It will make your abs bigger, stronger and better developed (you know, just like what happens to every other muscle group when you train it correctly) and this will make your six pack look better and “pop” a bit more once you’re lean enough for that kind of thing to actually matter.
And on a semi-serious/semi-not serious note, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind being a little fat but still likes to be able to see a faint outline of their hidden six pack poking through when flexing as hard as they can in perfect lighting, some direct ab training will help with that as well.
Of course, you will still look like crap when unflexed/in worse lighting. Wanna fix that? Lose the fat.
What Ab Exercises & Workouts Are Best?
Speaking strictly from the point of view of having “awesome abs” and a “sexy stomach,” I don’t really have any recommendations for specific workouts or exercises because I don’t really think it’s going to matter much.
Which is why my go-to recommendation in the routines I design is simply this: do about 10 minutes worth of whatever ab training you want twice per week at the end of a workout.
Yeah, seriously…. that’s it. That’s all you need, and that’s as specific as I feel I need to get. Again, the details really aren’t going to matter much in my opinion, so feel free to do whatever you like best.
As for me personally, I tend to keep it pretty basic and typically choose from the usual stuff: various forms of weighted crunches, hanging leg/hip raises, planks, etc.. Nothing fancy. Just about 10 minutes of whatever at the end of a workout twice per week, mostly in the 8-15 rep range.
Simple as that.
And yes, some degree of progressive overload should be taking place during ab training. So depending on the type of exercise being done, you might progress by doing more reps, or adding more weight, or adding more time, or moving on to harder variations. Or, all of the above.
But What About My Lower Abs?
Oh no!!! Not the dreaded lower abs!!! What ever will we do?!?!?
Lose more fat, that’s what.
You see, a very common problem many people have is that they can see their top 4 “upper abs” just fine, BUT their bottom 2 “lower abs” are nowhere to be found. Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. It’s why people tend to focus so much extra on lower ab training.
Those people would be wasting their time of course, as spot reduction remains a myth just the same for the lower abs as it does for the upper abs and every other part of the body.
The actual issue here is that the lower part of your stomach is the first place body fat gets stored when you’re gaining it and the last place it gets burned when you’re losing it. That’s why you don’t see people complaining that their lower abs are looking awesome, but their upper abs are still covered with fat and hidden.
It’s always the other way around.
So the fact that you can see your upper abs but can’t see your lower abs means that you might have lost a nice amount of belly fat and you might be quite lean, but you just haven’t lost enough fat to be as lean as you’re trying to be. Basically, you’re four pack lean, not six pack lean.
So what’s the solution? You simply need to lose a little more fat and get a little bit leaner.
And in case you forgot how to do that, it starts with the word “caloric” and ends with “deficit.” All of the lower ab workouts in the world won’t help in any meaningful way.
So… How Do You Get A Six Pack?
Get ready, here comes the highly complicated summary:
Lower your body fat percentage so you’re lean enough for your abs to actually be visible, and much less importantly, train your abs a little bit too.
NEW: My brand new fat loss program, Superior Fat Loss, is now available. It’s completely designed to allow you to lose fat as quickly and effectively as realistically possible… WITHOUT losing muscle, or feeling hungry all the time, or giving up the foods you love, or doing tons of cardio, or following annoying diet rules, or experiencing excessive metabolic slowdown and plateaus, or regaining the fat after you lose it. You can learn all about it right here: Superior Fat Loss
127 thoughts on “How To Get A Six Pack And Lose Belly Fat: A Guide To Ab Workouts”
What can i say… Hilarious and informative. The two things i like best about you.
Keep it coming buddy….
Thanks dude, will do!
Thanks for this detailed explanation. But what would you advise for those who want to keep fat on their bottoms and breasts and get a flat stomach too? Is there any way to keep these womanly bits plump while reducing the body fat?
Nope, no way to lose fat from certain spots only or keep it in certain spots only.
What you (and most women) really want to do here is lose fat and train correctly enough to build an awesome ass.
I’ve discovered that a fast test for the validity of a fitness source is how they answer the question of ‘how to lose belly fat’ or other such common questions. If they do not immediately talk about calorie deficits and/or spot reduction fallacies, but rather go right into exercises and/or macro nutrient breakdowns, then their credibility is immediately thrown into question.
Finally… a test I can pass. 😉
They also make statements like: ‘Carbs will make you fat’. And yes, you definitely passed!
but a very important test!
So, can you recommend a diet plan? As in, what to eat/not to eat. A website to calculate and find out my personal stats? How much I should be eating etc.
Already got you covered: http://www.acaloriecounter.com/diet/
Light …fresh….and simply to the point… but hard thing to do is lose actual BF as apose to weight loss
Wouldnt u say ?? My maintanance level is 1300cals…250 defct from that and im starving …lols
In most cases, you’re not going to lose body fat without losing weight… so trying to avoid “weight loss” will force you avoid “fat loss” as well.
Does it matter what you eat as long as you’re in a calorie deficit?
A caloric deficit is all that matters for weight loss to happen. However, the quality of those calories STILL definitely matters for a variety of other crucial reasons.
Lies! If you really wanted to help us, you would give us your top secret fat melting muscle shredding 18-pack abs bro workout and meal plan that you use with your top paying Elite Olympian-Ironman-Bodybuilder-MMA Masters!
So whenever you feel like really helping us with truthful information, please let me know… I’ll be waiting… 🙂
You’re seriously expecting all of my SeCReTz… for free? Nah, you’ll have to wait for my next book for that. Oddly enough, it’s entitled “The Top Secret Fat Melting Muscle Shredding 18-Pack Abs Bro Workout and Meal Plan.”
By the way, I definitely plan on getting to your other email one of these days. Once my inbox hits triple digits, I like to just pretend the entire concept of email doesn’t exist.
Man by the time you get around to it I’ll already have my 18-pack. hehe! Seriously though it’s no sweat. I’d love to hear what you think eventually but in the meanwhile I found a very satisfactory answer from an interview with Eric Helms over at the Impruvism blog. The short of it is… Reverse dieting.
Eric Helms is good people. Although without my secrets, the best you’re ever gonna do is a 14 pack. Or even worse, a 13 pack.
Losing fat is the hard part!
And practically the only part.
Jay, your right on man..I’m so happy to be a part of this site… I’m also so happy for you and all your accomblishments. I have been following your upper / lower body workout for 3 weeks now and i absolutely love it. It does what its suppose to do. And its true, the calorie deficit is the only true damn way to do.. I work at a gym and I cant tell you how many people come up to me and tell me how many situps they do , day in and day out and dont get anywhere , and I swear, I ask them how their food routine is…. and they laugh and go oh well, pretty bad….. and I feel like rolling my eyes and saying “well there you go”… Fitness and nutrition can be an easy subject, its just people make it so damn complicated.. thanks again Jay, keep up the GREAT WORK… and thanks again for the awesome routine…..
Glad to hear it man! And I agree completely. People love to overcomplicate every single aspect of fitness and nutrition.
And yeah, they also love to focus 100% on what they’re doing in the gym, and 0% on their diet.
This article covers everything! BTW, I loved the part about the lower abs lol!
So in your opinion, do you really think the results will be the same for 10 minutes of heavy crunches vs 10 minutes of crunches, leg raises and planks, done in the 8-15 rep range?
You mean if someone only ever did crunches vs if that same person did a combination of exercises? There will always be some kind of difference from that… but how much of a difference is hard to say exactly. My guess is quite small.
I need a really good way of figuring out what I need kcal wise to get into my calorie deficit..I’ve tried all ranges from 1200 to 2500 and everything betweenit.each for a month straight.I’m 36..5ft 8. 185 lbs I work out for an hr ..lifting..3xa week
Pick an amount of calories (good place to start), eat it consistently (and accurately) every single day, and monitor what your body weight does (ideally along with your stomach measurement as well) over the next 1-2 weeks.
Not losing? Take 10-15% off from whatever amount of calories you were eating during those 1-2 weeks and repeat this again.
Still not losing? Do it again.
On a semi related note, unless you have some kind of thyroid problem, there is no way a man who’s 5’8 185lbs legitimately consumed 1200 calories per day and didn’t lose weight. More about that here.
Thanks.. I’m on SSIs so its a tad difficult combat PTS. I just needed a good starting point if I can to much I’llkeep gaining so I have to be careful
I don’t know why I always await your articles…
Do you know why? 🙂
Because they’re awesome? 😉
Man, I am so in love with your articles.. they so make a lot of sense. Keep it up Jay 🙂
I should print this article and make 1000 copies and give it away in my gym. The first copy would go to the trainer with huge muscles and the big belly. The second will go to the guy holding a wooden stick over his head and doing side bends for 3 hours everyday.
Interestingly though, the last part of my body to lose fat is the calves. I’ve actually had the calves fat since I can remember. I had a six pack but never lean calves.
Ha, I have those same 2 guys in my gym too. Especially the second one. Plenty of that guy.
And that is some strange ass body fat distribution you have there.
Tell me about it 😉
They are in my gym too…are we all going to the same gym?
Love your article, so funny and to the point!
The thing is…as a girl my maintenance is 1500. If I want to lose 1 pound a week, that means I have to eat in a 500 calorie deficit…totalling to 1000 calories a day. How do I do this without starving? I can ramp up my exercise, but that only makes me even more hungrier. Ugh, so frustrating!!
Would love to hear your intake in this!
Well first, who said you need a 500 calorie deficit? I recommend a deficit of 20% below maintenance, which in your case would be 300 calories.
Second, what is your height/weight/age?
On a serious note, I have and continue to lose weight, too much IMHO as at one point I was below 140 at 5 foot 9, that is pretty thin, but my upper body is pretty ripped thanks to Jay’s book. My abs are there, not as huge as I would like, but I am afraid if I continue to lose weight, aka fat, I am also losing muscle size too.
Is this so? I mean, the body doesn’t just burn fat until there is no choice but to burn muscle does it?
Muscle loss in a deficit is definitely a real problem. For people who are obese it’s much less of an issue due to how much fat there is available. But for people looking to go from kinda lean to very lean, it’s a huge issue.
Read this one: https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/how-to-lose-fat-without-losing-muscle/
Yep I remember that blog post and it is a quandary us lean people have. Get big and accept some added fat, or get lean/ripped and accept that some areas will not be as big as you like. It is really hard to balance.
You are a very good writer and I only subscribe or get email from the best on the Internet. My girlfriend is jealous of my abs and we get naked she says, “Goddammit, I want abs like yours” I tell to get off her lazy ass and join me at gym.
Ha, thanks dude… glad to hear it!
Just found your page today, had a good few laughters!
Ironic and bitter true.
I’ve lost 50 pounds because of you. And I added strength training. I feel great. The best part is people ask how I did it. I say I just watch may calories and work out three to four times a week. They ask me if I still eat carbs. I say yes. They don’t believe me. They ask if I only eat 1200 calories a day I say no. They don’t believe me. It’s the weirdest thing. I eat quite a bit of the same foods just in smaller portions and I cut out sugar. I did the calorie calculator and I have a deficit each day. THAT’S IT!
Still can’t figure out why people pay top dollar for stuff when this way is free and effective!
Ha, exactly what I like to hear! Awesome progress… glad the site has helped in any way.
love every article of yours. more to come please 😉
This is exactly why I keep coming back to your website It’s amazing how far you’re website has come these past few months! I refer to your and only your site for guidance.
I read somewhere that walking in the morning for 20 mins on an empty stomach is a good way to target body fat. The light cardio would target the fat. Thoughts?
Thanks dude, glad to hear it!
As for your question, the only thing that “targets fat” is a caloric deficit. So if the cardio you’re doing is helping make that happen, it’s useful. Then again, you can skip the cardio and eat a little less and accomplish the exact same thing.
I love this website it rocks. I have been doing your beginner routine for about three months now and it has been great. When I started I could barely do three pull ups and I can now bang out three sets of ten no problems. Now that my strength is getting up there I want to try and lose some body fat. I just calculated my BMR: I am 42 5’5” and 145 pounds it says my BMR is 1487 so if I want to go 20% less than that it means a dally calorie intake of 1190 calories. Does this seem dangerously low? Do I need to suck it up and just do it or should I be calculating using the option with 3 workouts per week making my calories with a 20% deficit 1636? I don’t want to lose any gains in muscle, I would still like to build them up but I want to loose the belly fat too. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and keep up the great work on this website. I am documenting my progress and hopefully in a years time I will have a fantastic result.
Your BMR is the amount of calories you’d burn if you laid in a bed all day. That’s not the number you create your deficit from. Read this one.
Awesome thanks, i didn’t see that one and the calorie count seems far more plausible lol!
hey! jay ..1st you are awesome man .
2nd would you please give me specific diet plan for bulking up ( like for example what kind of food should i eat and what about the veggies and fruits are they included with protein ,carbs and fats) and a training program for bulking.
Sorry dude, I don’t do custom programs for people. That’s why I wrote the diet guide and the weight training guide (and put out The Best Workout Routines).
I’ve been reading almost all of your posts now, I’m so impressed because everything you say makes sense. It is now my 5th month going to the gym, when i started it was summer and I’d drink lots of water and eat less than I do now. Damn this winter time and holidays… I was able to see my upper abs within 2 months. Everybody was telling me how come its working out so fast. It was all about my diet. I do so many more abs exercises now, and even with much more weight (more weight than many fit guys in my gym). I’ve been told that i have really strong abs, but well, they are hiding. Its just about dieting, and losing fat just as you said a million times. I love you. I love you so much, because I was getting depressed lately, believing that i wont ever reach my aim, and never be lean enough. My diet was a mess lately. You gave me so much motivation and made me remember how I used to eat before, and how great my results were.
I needed to hear all of that what you posted for us. You are awesome, and I am so so so grateful for your information.
I was never the type who could follow any specific diet, but eat whatever I wanted to in a moderate way, and counting calories. You showed me, that what I’m doing is actually totally fine and that I dont need anybody to teach me what to eat. I enjoy reading your posts, they are so honest and easy to understand for anybody (since my English skills arent that perfect).
You’ve put so much effort in informing us, I wish I could give you back what you deserve. Just a big thanks won’t really do. But remember me, I’m just one of many many many ones that you’ve helped a lot, and I will always be thankful. I LOOOOOOOOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
You are quite welcome. Thanks for the love!
If possible, feel free to update again in the future and let me know how well you did.
OK, wait, so what is your opinion on people who do “Starve” diets, and “experts” who say you should avoid this at all costs? Technically speaking, they should get awesome results? I was very skinny when I was in highschool, at 5’11”, 135lb. Now i’m at 190lb, 10 years later but with lots of fat. I’m afraid that If I do cut down on calories and increase my activities, I will also lose not only fat, but the muscle I have as well. Generally speaking, I have decent body, except my gut…. My arms are pretty swell, even after stopping training long time ago, and my chest always stayed pumped, shoulders, average, but of course, I’d love to have abs. I guess my question is, does your body generally utilize the fat stores first, and then if your continue with deficit, it would eventually start to decay it self?
Read this one.
And no, I would not recommend any kind of stupid starvation diet. It’ll cause fat loss, but it will cause all kinds of other problems, too. More about that here.
Another solid article. One thing I’m curious about though, you say spot reduction for lower and upper abs is a myth, but personally when I focus on exercises like leg/knee raises I feel like I can make a good enough mind-muscle connection that I can isolate most of the pressure on the lower abs and very minimal on upper. Would this not be effective for building my lower abs? I am aware that fat loss is still the big factor to them being visible, but in terms of muscle/size. Thanks
You can certainly isolate different muscle groups or at least put more emphasis on certain parts of a muscle than others.
Spot reduction is something different though. That’s putting more emphasis on certain areas of fat (not muscle). That remains a myth.
Does your book provide a good weight loss routine, I live in Ireland can i still get your e book here ?
The programs in the book are primarily aimed at building muscle as opposed to causing fat loss. That’s something that should come from your diet in my opinion.
I love your articles! They keep me motivated….:-)
My goal is to get a six-pack before the summer and as you wrote – I am sure it is there, but it is not visible. I exercise regulary for the last 5 years, so I cannot believe, that my abs still do not look as I would like to.
I know I have to lose more fat (current fat 21%, 133lbs, 5’6′), but I am afraid to lose muscles at the same time. I have also read your article “How to lose fat without losing muscles” – sounds easy, but it is damn difficult…
People tell me, that I look skinny and I do not want to look skinny. I know, that if I will lose more fat I may look even skinnier and I do not think I will be able to “catch up” with muscle gain that fast, especially on the calories deficit…
So you look skinny now, but you’re not as lean as you want to be. And to get as lean as you want to be, you’d end up getting even skinnier. Yup, that’s actually a surprisingly common issue. I cover it a bit more right here.
Wow! That was a piece of brutal truth…. but is so right!
In the last 2 years I gained almost 14lbs and at the same time my clothes bacame loose, so I stopped using my weight as a reference. However only… upwards….
I will try to get rid of some extra fat and not look at the scale. Thanks:-)
Just want to say thanks for all your posts, they really informative and helpful 🙂 The question I have is what do you do if you want to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time? Because if you want to build muscle then you need a calorie surplus, but to lose body fat you need a deficit… is there anyway around this?
Read this one.
I am slim with a decent figure and do not want to lose any weight, But my stomach is too big for my frame and i struggle to flatten it, What would u recommend?
(I love your writing by the way) 🙂
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to lose weight. More here.
Thank you so much for the informative articles your write. I’ve already followed your guides and created my own diet and my own workout plan and will be starting them soon. I’ve been focusing on the nutrition side of things the past 2 months and after alot of researched i decided to be a vegan for various personal reasons. But i’m applying the concepts your taught about the diet into my vegan lifestyle 🙂
I just have one quick question though about ab workouts. In the guide to creating the workout routine, you classify abs as a small muscle group that should get 30-60 reps per week. I completely understand the cons of over-training and the strains it causes the body and how it hinders recovery. Having said that, almost every fitness trainer I’ve worked with (paid for) and every workout program I’ve investigated or checked out (mainly all the Beachbody workouts like p90x and insanity) recommend a much MUCH higher rep count per week. My trainers all used to say that i need to workout my abs EVERYDAY or at least at the end of EVERY workout. For example, p90x has an ab ripper x workout that totals to 339 reps and it’s scheduled to be done, on average, 3 times a week for a total of 1017 reps per week. I know a lot of the material out there is bullshit but you must see how skeptical one would be when told abs should be worked 30-60 reps a week when almost every other workout program, commercial or professional, is telling me to go 1000+ reps a week.
Can you please help shed some light on the matter ? It would be greatly appreciated 🙂
This is an easy one: every trainer you’ve worked with is a fucking idiot, and those workouts you mentioned are mostly shit designed primarily to just burn a bunch of calories.
Basically, train your abs twice per week for about 10 minutes each time. Feel free to do whatever the hell you want during those minutes for however many reps makes you happy. In the end, it’s really not going to matter (or help).
Awesome article.. crisp, to the point and no BS!
Hi, first of all just like to say a big thanks for all the effort you have put into this site i have been following for a few months now and really helped me. Responding to every question including one of my older ones is something you dont come accross often! So… Im about 6 ft 2 always been a lean skinny dude. Been lifting for the past 5 years but only got serious about my diet over the past 2 years. After a bulking cycle i got to an all time high of 14.6 stone which i was over the moon with looking at the scales.. however not so much at my stomach! I honestly thought my bulk was fairly clean but still seemed to gain a big gut. Anyway i then started a cut after using your site for advice and guidance i slowly reduced my cals from 4000 a day to 2100 a day and slowly but surely the weight started dropping. I have been cutting for about 4months now and am down to 13.5 stone so have lost a stone since the bulk. However my lower stomach is still not what it should be and i fit perfectly into the “4 pack lean not 6 pack lean” category you stated. The problem i have with lowering my calories even further is i am extremely worried about losing muscle as i am already starting to feel quite thin and maintening my lifts in the gym is getting more difficult. I plan to start another bulk at the end of august and really want to get my lower abs in shape by then. What do you advise? Take the risk of looking even thinner and lower the calories further?
This mainly depends on body fat percentage. I wouldn’t recommend a guy go into a surplus unless they are at around 12% body fat or less.
And regarding muscle loss, read this one if you haven’t already.
What about training your abs for the sake of strengthening your core? I don’t necessarily train my abs as much as I can to make them “pop” but I am scared of getting an exercise induced hernia like my hercules of a friend who didn’t do abs did.
Also do your abs need time to recover between working them like your other muscles?
I’d still just train them twice per week like any other body part.
Do you believe in the whoosh effect while in calorie deficit?? Also, how about a carb re-feed? I read somewhere while in a lower carb diet that you should have one meal a week where you consume 400-500 carbs, I guess its supposed to force some water out of your fat cells or something like that.
Yes, the whoosh effect is real (Lyle McDonald has written a good amount about it if you’re interested) and refeeds can certainly be beneficial (Lyle has written quite a bit about refeeds, too).
How about doing them twice a week but not as a part of regular workout? I am on your 3 day mass routine, which means I would train them either once or twice a week. I don’t want to do them after upper body as it is already a very high volume day. So basically twice a week at home on non regular training days. Yay or nay?
Probably not too big of a deal, though I personally don’t like having non-rest activity on rest days… even if it’s just abs.
Hey Jay … I have one big curiosity . Look at this short article :
And tell me how is it possible that this guy is still fat ? I really don’t believe that he ate more to cover the calories he burned during those 66 days . He should be very skinny at the end basically .
No time to read it, I’m gonna need cliffs.
This is one article I don’t quite understand. Are you saying that ALL people have abs and they just need to get skinny enough to see them? Because I Have to disagree with that. You don’t see starving children or anorexics with abs and my boyfriend does workout and is really skinny but you can’t see abs and if he loses anymore belly fat there would be nothing left of him. BUT you keep saying get LEAN enough…soo, maybe I am not understanding this part? So is that meaning you HAVE to workout and have muscle in order to see them, you just don’t need to directly work the abs? I am confused…
For starters, there is a big difference between skinny and lean. A lean man might be 10% body fat. Yet, a skinny man could be 15% body fat. In this case, the “lean man” will see abs and the “skinny man” won’t.
Beyond that, it is possible to be fairly lean and still not see abs as a result of the abdominal muscles just lacking development. This article explains this.
I measure 8% body fat using a skinfold caliper. Taking into account a little deviation, I’m probably somewhere between 3-13% (most likely not the low end of that range.) I still have about 20mm of subcutaneous fat on my abdomen and my abs don’t show through. Even when I weighed about 8 lbs less I didn’t have a six pack (no particular muscle difference.)
I’m probably one example of underdeveloped abs.
If you are legitimately that lean (and I say that because I’ve had countless people claim to be some super lean BF, then send pics and be no where near that BF), then yup… underdeveloped abs would be the likely problem.
I’m 5’5″ and 112 lbs, so I’m probably really that lean. I have about 20mm on my abdominal measure, and I’m curious to be what effect that has on ab visibility if I become more consistent with training and include some waist exercises.
Great article! as always….:)
Does the same apply for moobs? I’m reasonably fit through running marathons but have a layer of ‘padding’ shall we say. Do I have a magical pair of pecs under the render?
Depends on the cause of those moobs. If it’s just body fat, you’ll have pecs under there for sure, though they aren’t going to be big/thick/muscular unless you actually train your chest and build muscle in that area.
If it’s gynecomastia however, then it’s tissue rather than fat, in which case only surgery can truly get rid of it.
I’m 32 and weigh 65kg. Would like to uncover that 6 pack. As of now, when I see myself in the mirror, I can only see a 2 pack at the upper part but quite faint. I have a bf% of 11.7. My diet’s pretty good, maintaining the same weight for the past 2 years. Have been weight training since the middle of last month. I wouldn’t want to get too muscular in size. Overall, I am happy with my frame but my belly looks a bit out of shape.
To reduce the bf %, do I need to maintain the same load I am lifting for maintenance of my muscle mass? Would additional cardio sessions help too?
See #2 in this one. As for cardio, read this one.
Thanks for the links. I always wondered how maintaining the same load will help to prevent muscle loss and maximise fat loss. Ok, I will lift heavy but not too heavy. Is it ok to increase the load by a smaller amount as time goes by? Have to increase my protein intake by a little as well.
Also, you mentioned about its better not to do cardio at all when I am already weight training. So are you saying that weight training is also cardio too and helps in burning calories?
If you can progress while in a deficit, definitely go for it. But if all you can do is maintain, that’s the main requirement you need.
As for cardio, it’s optional. If you need it to help create a deficit, feel free to use it. If not, feel free to avoid it completely. And if you do use it, just don’t go overboard with it.
My main target now is to build muscle , gain weight , but I’m trying to get 6 pack as well..I am rather skinny , the last time I checked my BF% was around 11-12% (138lbs)..have some abs muscle but not clearly visible , having a slight contour of the abs but not solid 6 pack..
now the problem lies , like what you said , I need calorie surplus to gain muscle . BUT I need calorie deficit to uncover my abs muscles (though I think my BF% is OK)..so what should I do ?
Read this one.
And unless you’re really, really short, I don’t think a guy who is 138lbs should be focusing on fat loss.
KInda stumble to your website by accident and I am pretty glad I did! Your articles and explanations are fun and really understandable to read! It sure beats all of the crap and same repeated or advertizement on majority of other websites. Thanks for providing the real method and the right information to dispel all those myths that makes everything so complicated, definitely gonna try out your methods. I am sure I am certain of the result because it was clearly display. Would like to show my appreciation and I’ll definitely follow up with your new upcoming articles or books, twitters etc. Enjoyed your writing(very addictive, in a good way of course), can’t ever get bored of reading and it feels like you are talking right to me in your writing. Thanks again!
Thanks man! Definitely appreciate the feedback.
After reading , I’ve realized my instructor was an idiot. I’m a beginner and have been working out for 5 months now and when I started, I told him one of my main objectives was to get rid of my belly fat and hopefully develop some kind of a ‘pack.’ He had me doing an hour and a half of Ab exercises a week (something like 3 sets each of 4 exercises – 15 reps per 3 times a week). I felt very virtuous but now I see it was basically pointless.
I’ve got rid of him and have based my schedule on of your recommendations now.
I enjoyed reading your articles. I just wanted to clarify one thing. If caloric deficit is the main goal, which can be achieved by calorie counting/diet and you don’t particularly recommend cardio or ab workouts…what type of workout/exercise(s) do you recommend? Are these secrets hidden in your book?
Read this one.
Good info, but something that I’ve been wondering is how much does age factor into this? I’ve heard so many times that the older you get the harder it is to lose weight/fat. What if anything can you do about age? The deficit seems like the answer no matter how old you are.
Correct, for fat loss, the deficit is the answer regardless of age.
in your beginners routine, it says 2 minutes break between sets. How important is the duration of the break? will increasing/decreasing break time affect my results? Does the ‘2 minutes’ also apply to breaks between different exercises too?
Less rest = more fatigue = less strength/reduced performance on the upcoming set(s). Ideally try to keep rest times as consistent as you can (without driving yourself insane counting each second).
And yes, that’s a good starting point for rest between exercises. Many people will need an extra minute or two (or three), though.
If you’re just maintaining, do you really need to worry about how much protein, carbs or fats you’re getting, in terms of body composition since all those calories will just be burned no matter where they came from? Also, is there any to lift weights either?
Yup, you still need a sufficient amount of macronutrients (specifically protein and fat) for a variety of reasons (including muscle maintenance, testosterone production, etc.)… regardless of where your calorie intake is.
And yes, if you stop lifting, you will lose muscle. Doesn’t matter if you’re at maintenance.
This honestly made so much more sense then the garbage i kept hearing from others at the gym. I have not trained my abs in forever, but i have been weight lifting and cardio on a daily basis with one day off a week. I have see some awesome results, but what really hit me was hen you said that “lower stomach fat is the last to go”. That has made me feel great deal better! Thank you for this article it really shined a great light on how i can obtain abs one day!
Glad it helped!
So all I have to do is not eat as much and I’ll lose stomach fat?
A moderate caloric deficit, yes.
you helped me drop over 100lbs and keep it off for coming up on a year. now, my stomach is pretty jiggly. When I do planks, I have this dangling stomach that hangs down. I know there is still some fat under there, I get that, but will the skin tighten up eventually if I can lower my BF% a bit more or is that going to be my permanent scar from having been so over weight (current, 5’10” 175lbs)
Amazing progress! Glad if I’ve been able to help in any way.
Regarding loose skin, minor amounts of it can be fixable naturally. But significant amounts… the kind that typically occurs after losing 100lbs… will usually require surgery to fully fix.
What is the best way to shred the fat other than cutting calories? Are there running exercises that are particularly effective ??
There is no way to lose fat without creating a caloric deficit. Whether this is done by eating a little less or adding in some form of exercise to burn a little more (or both) is completely up to you.
From my experience, I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Usually, the first “fuel alternative” the body finds is your muscles. Then your fat. And usually, the belly fat seems to be the very last fuel alternative, so eventually you end up being a very skinny guy with just a bit of annoying belly which just won’t go away.
Belly fat being last (especially for a guy) is normal. Just means you have lose enough fat for that fat to be lost.
Thanks for the tips. It was very informative. No wonder im doing it wrong. But i have this dilema. Aside from getting a nice sexy six pack, i also need to gain weight because im such a skinny person. But i have big belly fat. I always go to the gym for 8 months now, and they say if i want to become big, i must eat and eat and eat. So if i analyze it, my two goals are competing with each other. What can i do? It would be very helpful if u can help me. THANKS
Read this and this.
Hi Jay, I am currently doing 3 X 8-15 reps of Decline Crunch…Is it necessary for me to also do abs workouts for obliques or do you believe the standard weighted decline crunch is enough for abs workout?
I haven’t done a direct oblique exercise in… so long ago I honestly don’t even remember. Years.
Thank you so much! I very much want to get abs, or rather, to uncover my abs, and the impression I’ve gotten is that I’ll have to do, like, 100 sit-ups a day or something absurd like that in order to achieve that goal. And I don’t really like sit-ups anyway. But all I have to do is lose fat? Well, then… that’s still a challenge but I don’t have to do sit-ups to lose fat! Hooray!
You are quite welcome!
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