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The Secret To Finding Your Abs

FROM THE VAULT: Abs, abs, abs. The catalyst behind an internet full of mirror pics (guilty) and uninvited Jersey Shore-style shirt pulls (not guilty), abs are the defacto visual indicator of a person’s fitness/nutrition level, right or wrong. They’re also the fuel behind a bazillion fitness products, ten step articles and magazine cover promises. I’m pretty sure if you took “Ways To Get Sexy/Rock Hard/Washboard Abs!!!!” promises out of magazine cover circulation, the entire magazine industry might very well implode from lack of “go-to” content.

Not that there’s anything wrong with chasing the dream of the ab-bricked road– it’s just all this hype and promises of “easy abs in 10 days” are kind of misleading and can open the door to a series of dashed expectations when that washboard doesn’t start popping out by the appointed day/time.

So how do you burn away that stubborn belly fat (always the last to go when it comes to guys)?

The One Secret To Making Your Abs Show

Reality dictates you can’t “spot train” abs and make the fat just melt away from your six pack exclusively. You can do crunches, shake a weight, follow 10-step ab moves and drink Slim Fast all day long… but if you’re still packing fat, the abs will never ever make their debut… But they CAN. Their debut just won’t be through gimmick-laden  tricks of cleanses, miracle crunch routines and fitness contraptions.  The trick to making your abs show (and show they will!) is the same trick you use to blast your muscle mayo every where else… eating right and eating well. After all, the old fitness axiom that’s often forgotten still holds true: “Abs are made in the kitchen”.

Nutrition and The Art of Patience

I don’t like to call “clean eating” a diet. I like to call eating right “nutrition” — after all, we’re not after an unsustainable course of action here, we’re after a lifestyle change that leads us to better choices and “diets” are short-term planning without long term solutions. Fact is, we’re looking at the long game here and nutrition (a combination of food and taking in the right amount of it) is the CRITICAL component to that game-day offense where your abs come out the winner.

So here’s the deal– if you’re not seeing your abs, chances are you’re still in the “muscle mayo” zone– that area usually above 10%  body fat for guys and 22ish% for the ladies. As you continue to drop that fat (and it does take more focus on your nutrition, timing and body reactions when you get into single digit fat percentages), you’ll see your abs form up in order– the top two, then four and finally that triumphant six pack.  The last little bit of fat covering that “ponch” or layer of fat will take patience and some dialing in. Don’t get discouraged. I’m not talking months and months and months. I’m talking patience measured by weeks of staying tuned in on your nutrition (outlined here with the Body Blueprint) just like you’ve always done. Stay on track and things will form up.

Ab Goals: Stay On Target & What To Shoot For

Remember- finding your abs takes dedication to nutrition and your body will shed the fat as it sees fit and from where it sees fit with a little nutritional/caloric discipline on your part. In the mean time, with nutrition dialed in, you’re toning and forming those muscles so as the body fat decreases, you’re looking good… and better yet, you’re feeling good. There’s some pretty good rules of thumb on when you’ll start seeing those abs you’re working so hard for.

Women: Although women tend to carry more body fat than men but less body fat around their “tummies”, women typically need to have their body fat percentage down under 17% to start seeing six pack abs. If the “chix-pack” isn’t your ideal, 18-20ish % will leave you in that lean, toned range. Of course, the further down the fat % scale you go, the more “ripped” your abdominals will look.

Men: Men DO carry a lot of weight in and around the belly- love handles, spare tire– you know the drill. This means we have to get a little lower  on the body body fat percentage. For most, you’ll start seeing the ghost of your abs around 10%.  8% will bring much more definition and 6-7% will look absolutely shredded. 5% is competition-level MINCED. No flexing here. At 6-7%, you’ve got the “perma-pack”.

Working Your Abs- How Much?

I hope you see abs don’t need to be blitzed as their exposure is based almost entirely on body fat. In fact, one of the big reasons for ab work isn’t to have them look good, but to gain a strong core which helps you lift, jump and avoid injury. Ab work is an application in real-world fitness.

Beachbody programs all have great ab working moves and workouts. I don’t need to cover HOW to work them here– greater minds than mine have already nailed that down. Still, like any body part, you don’t need to work them every day. 2-3 times a week MAX. After all, you’re not doing chest or bicep exercises every day, why would you subject your abs- another muscle group, to that kind of punishment without rest? Seems crazy when you look at it like that, doesn’t it? In fact, it could be counter-productive.

Beginning your fitness journey? stalled on “abs” and have questions? Feel free to email me here or at Better yet, let’s get you the support you need to line up your nutrition goals right now. Make me your (free) Beachbody Coach right here and we’ll get crackin’!



4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. becca says:

    Dan, thanks for all the time you put into writing informative, yet motivating articles. I am seriously glad I am in this community. It is excellent. Also I honestly learn a lot without my attention span clocking out. You and the lady friend are genius’. Keep it up!

  2. Raymond W. says:

    Hey Dan, awesome article bro! Really motivating, and digging the pic in the middle. I’m still in the beginning portions of abs with the first row starting to show, but i definitely need to work on lowering body fat percent. I know i got to stick with it and stay with the fight!

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