How to have Visible Abs Definition – What Body Fat % Should You have?

Today, we will discuss how to have a visible six pack Abs?  To do so, there are two conditions you have to fulfill:   #1: Body Fat % should not be high.  #2: Your abs should have some size.  In other words, two areas of work we need to do:

  • #1:  Lose some fat.
  • #2: Train our abs.


These two areas can be carried simultaneously or separately with no particular order.  When your abs is big enough and the body fat % is low enough, then your abs will appear.


Losing Fat

We first discuss how to lose some body fat.  Losing body fat, aka, losing weight is necessary unless you are gifted.  Someone born with lower body fat%/lean, this part is skippable and still see your abs.  But if you are average dudes with some belly fat.  The subcutaneous fat will cover your abs layer.  So even if your abs is big enough, you may not be able to see your abs definition clearly.


Body Fat Percentage

So how lean should we get?  This depends.  You may see a lot of Body Fat % picture in the Internet.  For male, ~15%.  ~10% will be much more clear.  For female, ~20%.  These number have some indication, but you shouldn’t rely too much on them.  Because everyone have a very different fat distribution on your body.  Which means:

  • Someone may have more fat in belly.  Even if he/she has a low body fat %,  his/Her abs will not be clear.
  • By the same token, someone may have more fat on thighs/hips, then he/she might have lower fat on his/her belly.  so even if he/she doesn’t have a very low body fat% in general,  but his/her abs is still visible and clear.


Mike Thurston is one of the example.  He looks like a BF 10% or less guy.  But he is measured as ~15% BF.  The reason is that his fat is mainly distributed in his lower body, while he upper body is muscular and lean.  That’s why he is the way he look.


Besides, the lean/muscle mass matters as well.  Same BF % with one with more muscle while another with less muscle.  The one with more muscle looks more lean.  That’s why Mike is a good example for that.  He has a significant size of lean mass.  Even if his BF% is not too low,  He looks ripped & shredded.


I quote this example is just meant to tell you Body Fat % is not completely reliable.  If you don’t have any reference, sure it means something.  But the most important thing is to recognise your own body composition.  If you think it is low enough, then YES it is low enough.  What BF % doesn’t matter.


The same question is quite often asked:  What is my body fat%?  In fact, I don’t really care that much.  I just know,  when I am in a good shape,  I can see my veins in my belly/abs.  When I am normal/bad shape,  the belly is bloated & can’t see the veins etc.


But if you not there. Yet,  The above content is too much for you to listen.  The first thing to learn:


Lose Fat Body = Lose Weight.

Losing weight requires several works done:  Exercise, Nutrition Control, better with Weight Training.  Some points to note:  You have to analyse which area is your worse part?  You can gain the most from improving the worse part.  For example,

  • If you don’t have 2-3 days of exercise (Cardio/Weight), you shouldn’t expect good result.
  • Similarly, if you eat every meals like your last meal, unclear/junk food.  Then you should know that: Nutrition plays an vital rule in Losing Weight.  Calorie/Hormones etc. are all related to what you eat/drink daily.  If you don’t pay attention to it, your result is doomed.


For your worse part, you need to work on more.  There are some guidelines:  Nutrition: Cleaner food.  Calorie Intake:  15-20% less than TDEE.  Go to sleep early.  Exercise: 3-4 days of exercises are the basics.  If you are capable, please feel free to add more days.  But it completely replies on your capability.  About exercises, do we need to do all the Cardio?  Nope.  Cardio is a tool to facilitate the fat loss process.  It is up to your commitment.  Even if you can’t jog everyday.  10min+ HIIT can be done everyday.


Also, don’t forget to lift weight.  Lifting weight can increase the lean mass,  Boost your metabolic rate which then help you to lose weight.  It also increases the testosterone & HGH level which helps to lose weight and gain muscle.  So, my advice:  You need to do both Weight & Cardio.


Of course, losing weight is not as easy as you think.  There are lots of plateaus require you test by trial and error before you can actually achieve the result you want.  You may refer to my old videos about Fat Loss & Intermittent Fasting.  There are more details discussed.


Alright, we are done with Body Fat & Fat Loss.  Let’s discuss abs training.


Abs Training

Abs training is simple.  Just need more frequency.  Intensity is not the juice.  I believe most people can build an amazing abs  with just bodyweight execises.  Myself included. 99% of my abs training don’t need weights.


Basic Training

Abs is an endurance type of muscle that you can often train with high reps and short rest time.  Every session can be short, just like 5-15min is good enough.  You can train it everyday or every other day as long as you don’t feel discomfort in your lower back.


My advice for beginners/ most people: train more  crunches/leg raises.  That’s good enough.  Spend 80% of your time on Upper/Lower Abs.  (Rectus)  Obliques is a little bit advance so that you can train it later when you are getting stronger and better shape.


There are multitudes of abs exercises.  Instead of doing a tons of exercise in a single session where you learnt from Youtube, why don’t just pick a selected fews for more sets and reps?  The latter option is much more effective.


Advanced Training

When your Rectus Abdominis Muscle is strong enough that you can touch its definition of 4/6/8 packs.  Then spend more time on obliques or even the Serratus Anterior.


Let’s briefly discuss Obliques.  You need rotation of your torso for training Obliques.  Just like crunches with rotation, twisting your hips at the end of leg raises,  These are good enough.  Side crunches are also okay as well.


For the advanced, you can do hanging exercises.  Like the famous Around the World.  When you are able to clearly see and touch your abs, you may want more by training the Serratus Anterior.  We won’t discuss it in detail today.  But for a briefing, it is a part of Abs even if it looks alike.  It has a nickname as “Boxer’s Muscle”.  Its training exercises are quite different from Abs.  We will discuss in detail in future.


When to Expect Result?

Many people will ask:  How long does it takes to have a visible Abs?  The answer is: It depends.  You can get them in few months if possible.  Some people have it without any proper training.

Able to see vs touch the Abs is two different level.  From the perspective of training:  It is good enough to touch your abs definition.  From the perspective of vision, it still needs a low body fat %.


Moreover,  How many packs of Abs you can have is pre-determined by the Genetics:  4/6/8.  Most people have 6.  Some should have 6/8 packs but just covered by a serious layer of subcutaneous fat.  This doesn’t count as 4 or less.


Uneven Abs

Some may also ask: Why my abs is uneven?  Like my left side is higher than my right etc.?  This is none of the business of training, But Genetics which determines the structure of your Abs,  especially the tendinous intersection of Rectus Abdominis.  Its position cannot be changed.  Training only makes it bigger, but NOT the Position/length etc.  If you have this problem,  Please don’t be upset.  In fact, most people don’t notice this problem.  Only you can care about this.  If you just ignore it, then it will be fine.  As long as you have visible abs, you will be fine.


To summarise, having Abs consists of two areas:  Losing Fat & Training Abs Muscle.  Both areas require efforts.  If you are still far from it, you may take longer.  So please hold on to your dream before the result actually comes.  Hard Work works!

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