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What is it about six pack abs?

Why are so many people so enamored of a rippling stomach?

Why is it the epitome of being fit and sexy?

Well, I’ll leave those questions to the “fitlosophers” of the world, and instead, answer this one for you:

How long does it take to get six pack abs?

And I mean a real six pack, not some hazy lines that are halfway visible in perfect, “half natty” lighting.

You know: lean, tight, and defined core muscles, and maybe… just maybe… some vascularity too, gods willing.

Well, you’re going to know by the end of this podcast.

So, if you’ve been cutting for months now and are frustrated with your lack of results, or if you’re just getting started and want to know when you’ll finally see abs in the mirror, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get to it.

Would you rather read about the how long it takes to get six-pack abs? Then check out this article!

Episode Transcript:

Mike: [00:02:02] Hey, everybody. Mike Matthews here from Muscle For Life and Legion Athletics. And in this video podcast, I am going to answer a question I get fairly often, and that is: how long does it take to get six-pack abs?


[00:02:16] Now, let’s start this discussion with some good news. The good news is that getting six-pack abs is far easier than many people would have you believe. You don’t have to do a billion crunches. You don’t have to do a billion hours of cardio. You don’t have to swallow a billion handfuls of supplements. And you don’t have to follow weird, overly restrictive diets.


[00:02:41] All you have to do is lose belly fat. Lose enough belly fat until your abdominal and your core muscles are clearly visible. And if you’re like most people, your core muscles are not going to be quite as developed as you’d like unless you have a lot of weightlifting experience. And so if that’s the case, you have to do a couple other steps.


[00:03:07] So the first step is: you have to lose the belly fat. And then if you are not quite happy with how your core looks when you are lean enough, you then should be doing a lot of compound weightlifting, heavy compound weightlifting in particular, and doing the right core exercises. 


[00:03:24] Yes, that really is it. Six-pack abs are as simple as: having a low enough body fat percentage, somewhere around 10 percent for men and 20 percent for women and having highly developed core muscles. That’s it.


[00:03:41] Now in case you are wondering what my body fat percentage was in the picture that I showed you just a minute or two ago, I was around seven percent body fat at that time, which is leaner than you need to be to have a clear six-pack. And by anyone’s standards, you are going to have a clear six-pack, around 10 percent if you’re a guy and around 20 percent if you are a girl.

As you get leaner, you simply get a tighter and tighter look in your abdominal area and eventually you start to get vascularity. You start getting veins coming up the sides of your torso and sometimes over the rectus abdominis, the ab muscles themselves. And it looks cool, but the problem is, and I’ve run into this a number of times because I have gotten that lean a number of times for photoshoots, it is not sustainable.

At least it is not easily sustainable for me. And the reason being is I’m not tremendously active. I exercise about five hours a week. Otherwise, I sit in a chair like this and I type away and record away and talk away and whatever. And I don’t have an overly active metabolism. I think my metabolism is very normal in terms of my basal metabolic rate.

So what that means is to stay really lean like you saw in that picture. I have to eat less food than my body wants, which means that my workouts aren’t as good, my sleep usually isn’t as good, I don’t have as strong of a sex drive, as much energy. There is just a sacrifice to staying that lean. And you will find that among most people who truly are natural, who stay very lean for long periods of time. I personally don’t think it’s worth it. Sure, it looks cool, but the decline in quality of life is just not worth it to me.


[00:05:38] That said, I find that I can maintain around 10 percent, give or take one percent or so, very easily with my schedule the way that it is and with my diet the way that it is and I don’t have any of the problems that I run into when I try to maintain that six or seven percent look. So that’s something to keep in mind when you are looking at pictures of people like me in photo shoot ready shape or other people on Instagram. And of course, you have to also remember that many other people on Instagram are on drugs, even though they don’t talk about it. And that changes everything.


[00:06:13] If I were willing to just use testosterone, I could stay at six or seven percent, more or less, year round because I have the discipline as far as the training and the dieting goes. But I can’t will my physiology to do what I want it to do. And there just are downsides to having very low levels of body fat.

It is simply not healthy and you do pay a bit of a price for that. However, you can override that with drugs. And again, testosterone alone is enough to do that. If I were willing to use testosterone, I could stay seven percent or so, more or less, as long as I wanted to, and not feel the negative side effects that I normally experience.


[00:07:01] Now, the problem with that, morality aside, is eventually, if I do come off the drugs, I’m going to crash hard. And it could be a long runway to normality, back to normality. So keep that in mind as well if you are considering getting on drugs to stay really lean year round.


[00:07:24] Okey dokey. So now let’s get to the real point of this video podcast, and that is answering the question: how long will it take you to get six-pack abs?


[00:07:33] And depending on your body composition, it may take anywhere from eight weeks, up to 52 weeks. And to show you exactly why that is and help you get an accurate estimate of how long it is going to take you. I am going to put an image up on the screen that you can also download by clicking the link in the description below.

And if you are listening to this podcast, head over to and search for “six-pack abs” and look for an article titled, “How Long Does It Take to Get Six-Pack Abs?” I believe that’s the title, something like that. And you will find this image in that article. Again. You can download it and follow along with my instructions, which I will give just explaining what this image is showing and how to use it to find out how long it’s going to take you to get six-pack abs.


[00:08:27] Okay, so this chart assumes that you are going to be losing about one pound of fat per week. That is healthy and safe and relatively easy and straightforward for everyone to accomplish. So with that assumption, here’s how to use the chart. So the first thing is you want to locate the column, the vertical division at the top with your current body fat percentage. Now, if you are not sure what your body fat percentage currently is, head over to Muscle For Life or Legion Athletics and search for “body fat percentage” and you will find an article I wrote on how to do that.


[00:09:08] Okay, so step two, if you are a woman, you want to follow the column down until you hit an orange cell. And if you’re a man, you follow that column down until you hit a yellow cell. Then trace that row, the horizontal division on the chart to the left-hand margin and look at the number. And that is approximately how many weeks it will take you to get six-pack abs.


[00:11:00] So, for example, let’s say that you are a guy who is currently sitting at about 22 percent body fat. Okay, first thing, you find the column for a starting body fat percentage of 22 percent. There you go. And then you follow that column down until you hit a yellow cell. Good. There’s the first yellow cell. And then third, you follow that row left until you hit the numbers along the left-hand margin. And you get twenty-five. So it will take about twenty-five weeks to get a killer six-pack.


[00:11:33] Now, of course, how long it will really take might change by 10 or 15 percent or so, depending on how well you stick to your diet and your exercise routines, whether you are using effective supplements that help with fat loss or not. And how well your body mobilizes and burns fat.

But you will find that the estimations in that chart are more or less correct. If it says twenty-five weeks, it is most definitely not going to be 15 weeks or thirty-five weeks if you have good dietary and exercise compliance and don’t make any obvious mistakes in your cut, like cheating all of your results away or accidentally overeating and so forth.


[00:12:22] Now one other thing we should touch on briefly if we are going to talk six-packs is stubborn fat. You have probably heard about stubborn fat in connection with, you know, belly fat and getting six-pack abs. And there is some truth to that. Some fat stores in your body are harder to get rid of than others. And for guys in particular, it does tend to be in the abdominal region, particularly in the lower abdominal region. And for women, it’s usually more hips, thighs, and butt. 


[00:12:54] There are physiological reasons for this. I won’t go into them here because I have written about and discussed them in detail elsewhere. If you are interested in that, if you search my podcast feed, I’m sure, search for “stubborn fat.” I’m almost positive I’ve recorded at least one episode, if not more than one on the subject.

And if you want to read, head over to Muscle For Life or Legion Athletics and search for stubborn fat, because I’ve written articles on both of those sites about it. The bottom line, though, what you need to know is that there is nothing particularly special about getting rid of stubborn fat. There are a couple of supplements that can help synephrine, yohimbine caffeine as well. Caffeine can just help you lose fat faster, period.

But when you combine it with synephrine, yohimbine, they can work together to accelerate stubborn fat loss. But in the end, all you really need to do is just keep getting leaner and keep trusting the process, so to speak. So in the beginning, you are going to be a bit dismayed when you are cutting because you’re going to see certain parts of your body that you probably care a bit less about esthetically, you’re going to see those getting lean very quickly, while the parts that you do care more about are going to seem to not change at all.


[00:14:10] For us guys, for example, especially in the beginning of a cut, we are going to see our arms, our shoulders, our chests, our legs, sometimes our faces get noticeably leaner week after week, especially if we’re taking pictures. But our abs are more or less looking the same. And this can be discouraging. And for women, it’s usually similar areas. It’s usually upper body getting lean first, the lower body not changing much.

Again, just know that if you keep going, you will get rid of the fact that you want to get rid of the most. It just takes its sweet time. The fat stores that are easiest to mobilize and burn are the ones that go first and the ones that are more stubborn, more resistant to your bodies – it’s really resistant to chemicals that mobilize fat so it can be burned – they do eventually give way. It just can take time.


[00:15:07] So keep that in mind in your quest for a six-pack. Chances are things will really start to come together as you get later, get deeper into your cut. Chances are you are not going to see that much of a change in the beginning, especially if you’re a guy.


[00:15:23] You should also know that there is really nothing you can do in the way of exercise that is going to help you lose belly fat faster. You simply can’t spot reduce fat like that. Research does show that fat burning does speed up a little bit in the area that is being trained when you were training muscles. But it is so minor that it makes no practical difference.

What that means then is: you should simply focus on reducing your body fat percentage. That is what is going to get you there. And if you are also going to train your core muscles, which is pretty much a good idea for everybody, you’re doing that to develop them so they look better once you are lean enough to really see them.

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!