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The Best Science-Based Plan To Get Six Pack Abs

by Jeremy Ethier - January 13, 2019

If you want to learn how to get a six pack the right way... Then you need to read this article.

Let’s face it, six pack abs are something that most men want. They not only complete a lean, muscular physique but are also representative of all the dedication and hard work you’ve put in to attain them...
zac efron six pack abs
...however, with the amount of people wanting 6 pack abs of their own comes the overwhelming amount of bad advice out there on how to actually get them.

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The Truth About How To Get Abs

A quick Google search on "how to get a six pack" is all it takes to come across a plethora of misleading information:

  • Some say you have to ingest certain types of special foods and drinks while avoiding others
  • Some advocate special fat burning pills as all you’ll need
  • Whereas others promote ab exercises as the key to stripping off that belly fat (which is now something that most people unfortunately believe in!)

Well, coming from someone who has personally stripped off that belly fat to reveal my six pack...
how to get six pack abs
...I can tell you that none of those previously mentioned methods alone will help.

In fact, taking just a quick look at the research proves my point.

For example, this 2011 paper from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that:

6 weeks of direct ab training 5 days per week had no effect on reducing belly fat in overweight subjects.

six pack abs study
Simply meaning that no amount of ab exercises alone will get you a six pack.

So what should you do instead?

Well, the good news is that the real evidence-based way to get six pack abs is actually quite simple.

And with the following 3 steps I’m going to cover, by the end of this article you’ll have a complete game plan to get you there.

Step 1: Setting Up Your Nutrition

Step 1 is the most important step and involves setting up your nutrition, which is going to be responsible for stripping off the excess fat that’s covering your six pack in order to reveal them.

As many of you know, in order to lose fat you must be at a calorie deficit:
how to get abs graphic
And the easiest way to create a significant calorie deficit is simply by eating less.

Now although you could theoretically do this by exercising more instead, that’s actually much harder to do and sustain.

For example, most people would you find it much harder to burn an extra 500 calories daily by jogging for 40 minutes as opposed to just eating a little less...
calorie deficit
...which is exactly why you need to prioritize your nutrition.

How Much Should I Eat For Six Pack Abs?

Now as for exactly how much you should be eating in terms of calories and macronutrients, I’ve simplified everything by setting up a calculator (here it is!) that will calculate everything for you based on your stats.

After you get those numbers from the calculator, write them down, and that’s what you’ll want to stick with until you refine them in step 3 of this article.

What Should My "Six Pack Abs Diet" Consist Of?

As for the types of foods to eat to hit your numbers, here’s a helpful graphic that provides some examples of what the majority of your fat loss diet should consist of:
diet for six pack abs
80% of your foods should come from unprocessed, whole foods as shown here and 20% can be less healthy foods to indulge in.

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Step 2: Setting Up Your Training

Step 2 involves setting up your resistance training program.

This is recommended because when combined with a calorie deficit, it’s going to enable you to:

  1. Maintain your muscle mass as you lose fat
  2. Help better shape and define your midsection as you do lean down

Proving this point, a 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis looked at the effectiveness of the following conditions on changes in body composition in overweight individuals:

  • a calorie deficit alone
  • a calorie deficit plus cardio
  • a calorie deficit plus resistance training

how to get abs study
Their analysis found that a calorie deficit combined with resistance training provided the most favourable changes in terms of fat loss and muscle gain.

...simply meaning that you need to be doing some form of a resistance training program as you lean down!

As for what resistance training program to use, for a good routine I’d highly suggest checking out my upper body workout and lower body workout posts which come with a PDF you can download and get started with right away.

It's a 4-day split that can be used by beginners and intermediates alike.

Ab Training For Six Pack Abs

And as for direct ab training, despite what I said earlier, it actually is something I’d recommend incorporating in your routine.

The main reason is because compound movements and resistance training exercises in general don’t stimulate the abs very well.

In fact, this 2014 EMG paper from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that:

Activation of the abs and external obliques during the back squat was quite minimal, less than 20%, whereas the standard situp led to more than double the activation at around 40%.

You can see the results in the graphic below:
abs activation study
So since the abdominals and obliques can be grown just like any other muscle, these findings mean that you should be training them directly with ab exercises as this will improve their look once you strip off the excess fat covering them.

My recommendation is to train them around 1-3 times per week with a mixture of both weighted ab exercises and unweighted ab exercises. This can be done on your rest days and/or after your main weightlifting workouts for example.

Now as for cardio, it’s not necessarily needed from the start and will be mainly used as a tool to speed up the fat loss process, which will be discussed in the next step.

Step 3: Monitor Your Progress And Adjust Accordingly

Once step 1 and 2 are in place, the last thing you need to do is monitor your progress throughout the weeks and adjust accordingly to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

You can start by simply weighing yourself every morning and tracking that overtime to ensure it's gradually decreasing.

As for how much weight you should be aiming to lose, multiple studies have found that:

Aiming to lose around 0.7% of your bodyweight per week is the sweet spot in order to maximize fat loss while minimizing muscle loss.

So you want to aim for that and tweak various variables if you’re missing the target.

For example, a 170lb individual would aim to lose roughly 1.2lbs per week (170lbs x 0.007 = 1.2 lbs).

So what he’d do is track his morning weight overtime and take a weekly average of it. If he’s getting close to his goal weight loss per week, then we know he’s on the right track:
tracking weight progress
If however he’s not losing weight at all or not fast enough, then he should adjust by either:

  • Slightly reducing his calorie intake (e.g. reduce daily calorie intake by 100 calories)
  • Adding a little bit of cardio (e.g. adding one 20 minute cardio session per week)

This extra push is often all that's needed to speed up fat loss.

And conversely, if he was losing weight too quickly which isn’t necessarily a good thing, he would simply do the opposite.

You will inevitably have to lower your calorie intake and/or add slightly more cardio as you progress, but the key is to do so gradually.

Also keep in mind that weight is just one measurement of progress. It’s also important to assess how your strength is doing in the gym, how your body changes look in the mirror, and so on in order to get the most accurate depiction of your progress.

When Will I See My Six Pack?

Basically, you keep doing the previous steps until you reach roughly 12% body fat or below.

As you can see in the below graphic, this is the level of leanness you’ll have to attain in order to see a well defined six pack:
six pack abs graph
Just note that you will lose fat from other areas like your face and arms before it eventually comes off your stomach due to the fat cells there being more stubborn...

So the key is to be patient and trust the process!

Although attaining a six pack may seem impossible to you or far off from where you are now, trust me on this, with dedication and adherence to the 3 step protocol I went through, you will get there.

…and if you’re looking for an all-in-one science-based program that optimizes your training and nutrition for you, such that you can attain your six pack as quickly and as efficiently as possible...

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Anyways, that’s it for this article – hope you found this one useful! Don’t forget to give me a follow and connect with me on InstagramFacebook, and Youtube as well. Cheers!

The Best Science-Based Plan To Get Six Pack Abs