T Nation

Ab Visibility. Definition and Bodyfat


So..I have visible abs but under good lighting. My arms are visibly defined even in most any kind of lighting. I have vascularity in my forearms and in both biceps, especially when training. My upper back is defined, and I can visibly see "christmas tree"..noticeably in my lower back. I'm relatively fair skinned..not pale. I sometimes wonder how this translates to bodyfat %--that is the fact that it typically takes certain lighting to REALLY see my midsection for what it is.

I never cared about the number as much as I cared about the mirror and I don't own a pair of calipers..but, new information and articles on this site seem to base different approaches on specific bodyfat % levels of the individual. I'm not curious as to where I stand because of this. Is it fair to say that if you can see visible abs..even if it's under certain lighting..and that the other factors I have described also apply, that one must be in the 10-12% ?

I'm training for my last race of this year..it's a simple 5k..then I'm giving up endurance training for a while in favor of getting back on board with weights more, eating more and putting on some quality lean mass...so this matters to me, as it may affect which approach I take.

I will buy calipers to be sure..but I'd like to hear opinions on this.


So you care about the number or you don't?

Sounds like you'd like to get a little leaner but it's still not clear why you want the calipers.


Only because I'm fucking retarded..At my weight there really isn't much more calories I can cut or weight I can loose without really looking like I have aids. I do care about the number in regards to certain nutrition protocols posted on this site which depend upon the bodyfat percentage range you fall under. For instance..cheat meal or cheat day frequency is suggested upon current bodyfat %. So in the end all I care about is how I look of course..logically, if I'm shredded but a caliper tells me I'm 50% bodyfat(ridiculous and wouldn't I know)..it wouldn't matter to me. I can post a pic or two and let you see.


You probably don't have deep abs, so you are pretty lean but your abs don't really "stand out". you probably just need to get bigger overall or it could be genetic. In regards to the cheat meal, unless you are really overweight I don't see any reason why you could not have a cheat meal once in a while or every week or all the time lol.


I neglected abs when I was ACTUALLY training... When I did powerlifting.. I did do a lot of lower back accessory work.. and some slight ab work. But I never really hit abs alone hard. If I ever did, it would be a week long phase lol. I did front squats, zercher squats and the like..but no direct ab work. I assume this may be responsible for how shallow they are. I lost a considerable amount of muscle mass and maybe that also contributed..whatever ab mass was there probably got eaten up some too. So..while my back is pretty defined..my abs are also defined but way more so under decent lighting..


This photo might explain what I mean..somewhat washed out lighting..abs not visible. :frowning: Emaciated physique...


I don't do any direct ab work. I HATE ab work. But I have deep abs. Point is, I think its genetic how your abs will be. Obv training them will change this

Edit - you have little muscle, maybe why they aren't thick


agreed man...running will do that to you.. :\


After this 10k race on the 25th ...I'm giving it up for a while..I'll still run 4-5 days a week, but 3 miles at a time tops. I plan to up my calories by approx. 1000 a day.. Not as much as Berardi advises for in Massive eating, but I genuinely find those numbers to be a bit high.. If I'm not growing..I'll gradually increase more. But, the last thing I want to do is just get fat again and gain a minimal amount of muscle. I know what will happen at that point..I'll feel like shit, cut again..and be back in the same exact place 1 year later.


After your race, why not introduce weighted sprints instead of running?


Not a bad idea..and I will include speedwork..in fact I do high intensity cardio now 1 day a week. But, I don't want to completely lose my long distance endurance either.

I think If I compensate with more calories, I'll be afforded to run..hopefully.


Also...would you say that I am at a respectable bodyfat level at this point, enough so that I can afford to bulk..but incooperate dirty food approx. once a week?


Yeah you're not fat at all. Just lacking muscle. I'm not the qualified if you will to give advice about diets and such because I haven't walked the walk. My diet is poor and I still gain weight with not a lot of fat tbh.

But it just makes sense to do sprints to me.


Ya, you just need to get bigger overall. Which will be very difficult if you are hell bent on running that much but its your call. You're not fat but not crazy lean either. I would incorporate ab work into your routine but abs are weird like ruggby said some people got em some don't.


Well I'm def not crazy lean..I guess I estimated 10-12% range..who knows.. I have been upwards of 186ish at around 14-15%ish ..I'm just looking to get to approx 160-5 and keep my current level of leanness is all..


You definately need to gain some quality lean mass, you have the physique of a distance runner. I'm not sure if I buy into the abs and genetics thing. Abs can be significantly improved IMO but they need volume. Don't expect improvement from a few half assed sets of sit ups. I follwed the routine of Reggie Bush and litteraly grew a pair of strong abs in two weeks. Here it is:


You are hitting the entire mid section from multiple angles. I only did the core part of the above workout, 4 times a week for 4x10 on each exercise done after my regular workouts. There's a video illustrating some of the movements in the link too.


Far cry from this: http://images.T-Nation.com/forum_images/1/f/1f2df-totalfront.jpg . I'm gonna try out that routine though as I add more cals and reduce my running. Thanks man.


I'm actually quite impressed by your level of musculature for a distance runner.


Thanks man.. I could certainly stand to gain 10-15lbs atleast though..

Also..in clothes, I'm just a skinny kid...for the most part..noone would look at me and think he runs or he's fit...atleast I don't think they would. Perhaps with my shirt off someone would assume I atleast run..or something. I believe I'd overall look better in clothes and without if I put on some quality mass..


Meh. I think you're thinking too much about what you look like to others. You have to be happy with yourself when you look in the mirror.

You could stand to gain weight. I just wanted to point out that you are doing well considering how much you are running.