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How to Get a Six Pack

Well, I normally focus on the health side of fat loss and fitness more than appearance in my writing, but there are so many people wanting to know how to get a six pack and have their abs visible that I thought I would devote an article to it.

Many people think the key to getting six pack abs is to do excessive abdominal strength work like leg raises, crunches and sit ups. By far the more important component is to reach a very low level of body fat. It does not matter how well developed your abdominal muscles are, if you have a layer of fat covering your abs, there will be no visible definition. It actually does not take excessive strength development in you abs to have a visible six pack if you have virtually no belly fat covering them.

So the key to get a six pack is primarily to lose fat till the point that you have very little fat over your abs. Further abs work will then improve their definition after this but will not make any real difference until you have worked off any layer of fat you might have.

How to Lose Belly Fat

This then comes down to how to lose belly fat. You might want to check out some quite detailed articles I have written on how to lose belly fat and exercises to lose belly fat. I’ll go over some of the main points here to help give a heads upon the process.

Aiming to lose belly fat and engaging in fat loss generally are the same thing. Where you gain or lose fat at different stages of a fat loss process is based more on your genetics and not on your nutrition or exercise approach to fat loss. So the first step to get a six pack is to achieve a very low level of body fat generally.

The key to losing fat is to maintain a calorie deficit. There are so many different schools of thought on how to lose fat that it can be a bit confusing to decide on the approach you want to take.

Approaching fat loss through maintaining a basic calorie deficit has a lot of supporting research. Various health bodies such as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the US Department of Health and Human Services [1] and the American Dietetic Association [2] release position statements that are designed to advise health practitioners on how to treat obesity and weight issues. Both of these bodies recommend that fat loss should be approached by maintaining a basic calorie deficit of about 500 to 1000 calories a day. By consuming 500 to 1000 calories a day less than you burn you should lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week, which is a widely recommended rate of weight loss [1].

So to have a visible six pack, you want to establish a basic calorie deficit in order to achieve fat loss which will lower you belly fat levels to the point that your abs are visible. Some of the main components to keeping this calorie deficit are nutrition, cardio work and weight training.

Through the process, you also want to minimize the loss of muscle mass while you lose fat. There are a number of benefits to this. Firstly, if you can prevent the loss of muscle, this will minimize the degree that your resting metabolic rate will lower. This is the calories you burn at rest. By burning more calories at rest, this will help maintain a calorie deficit to continue your fat loss efforts. Also, as we are talking here about getting visible abs, you will obviously want to minimize your muscle loss through the process to have your muscles visible.

The best way to prevent a loss of muscle while maintaining a calorie deficit is to engage in regular weight training. This could be anywhere from 3 days a week for a beginner to up to 6 days a week for advanced weight trainers.

Other issues include getting regular protein in you diet and not aiming for an extreme calorie deficit below that recommended above.

To get more of an idea what is involved in the fat loss side of the process, I recommend taking a read of our articles how to lose belly fat and exercises to lose belly fat. You can also get a good introduction to calorie counting in general in our article how many calories should i eat a day.

Ab Workout Routine

Once you have lost your belly fat, your abs will be visible and further work to strengthen you abs should help improve their definition. Tom Venuto has published a good abs routine in his report Six Pack Abs Revealed. Tom has devoted his life to the study and practice of muscle development, fat loss and nutrition. He has also competed in a number of natural body building competitions and regularly writes on the topic as well as training and teaching people. I have a lot of respect for his writing and you can see the sort of results he has had with his abs in the photo here.

In his report, he outlines how little work it actually takes for him to maintain his abs once he has got his body fat down to single digit levels. He does about 15 minutes work on his abs about twice a week. Here is an example of a routine that he gives:


Exercise: Hanging Leg Raises
3 sets of 15 to 20 reps each.

Exercise: Hanging Knee-Ups (Bent-Knee Leg Raises)
3 sets of 15 to 20 reps each.


Exercise: Weighted Swiss Ball Crunches (or Weighted Cable Crunches)
3 sets of 15 to 20 reps each.

Exercise: Incline Bench Reverse Crunches
3 sets of 15 to 20 reps each.

This is an example, but he changes the exercises about every month so his body doesn’t adapt and slow his progress. As you can see, this amount of time devoted to his abs is not a lot considering the results he get. The key is that he has a very high degree of control over his body fat.

You can read more about his approach to fat loss in his ebook Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, and you might like to take a look at his free report Six Pack Abs Revealed to see more about his approach to abs.

I hope this has helped give you a good idea on how to get a six pack and the roll of fat loss in the process.


[1] The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults (2000). National Institutes of Health. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. North American Association for the Study of Obesity.

[2] Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Management (2009). Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 109, Issue 2 , Pages 330-346, February 2009

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