T Nation

Heavy BF% with abs.

I know that everyone shows differently at different BF% but what is the highest % one can probably have and still show? I am probably at about 6% and only show a 4 1/2 pack. It might take 4-3% to show all.

Pretty extreme? For any one that saw the Roy Jones Jr. fight it looked like Ruiz was about 12% and had some show of abs but obviously the rest of him looked pretty chubby. Anyone have a pretty high % and show?

It is so highly individual depending on bodyfat distribution, that it is really hard to say.

I’ve had female clients who have a “six-pack” at close to 20% bodyfat. They just don’t carry fat in the midsection.

However, I was once underwater-weighed in college and did not have a six-pack at 6.8% bodyfat. Sounds like
we are in the same boat.

Hope this helps.

I was at 7.2% durining my hockey days and had no abs showing at all. About 4 months ago i was at 11% and abs were showing threw…the only diff was that i trained my abs with weight! For me it seemed that I had to build my abs, just like other muscles, before they would show threw!

Cappx nailed it. Just having low body fat is not enough for many people. If you don’t have well developed abs, you’ll never see a good “six-pack”.

I’m not buying that. Everyone has abs; the problem is that they are covered with fat. Remove the fat, reveal the abs.


How can you not “buy that”? The more developed your abs are (read: larger and protrude more), the more easily you will see them regarding BF%. This is just common sense IMO.

Tenman - No way! Yes, everyone has abs, but not everyone has a well-defined six pack even at the lowest levels of bodyfat. Abs are just like any other muscle and will respond to training via hypertrophy.

So if you want showtime, washboard, six-pack abs, you’ve got to train and develop them on top of reaching low body fat levels.

Try Coach Thib’s ‘Ab Training for Athletes and Babe Hounds’…

I’m on Week 8 and my abs have never felt harder or stronger. It’s by far the best thing I have ever done for abdominals…

Sorry, I have to agree w/ Cappx you still need to train your abdmonial muscle in order to see them. Its a muscle just like everythingelse… I don’t know how you can’t buy that TenMen…

My abs are able to show through at 14% but I don’t have a true 6 pack until I get to around 6%. Until I get to around 10% all I can see is my top four.

I was ripped to shreds for a couple years…we’re talking slightly more than essential fat. Despite that, I could never pop those bottom two bustahs out.

Actually, I think that genetics play a role in what kinda pack you can display, even at the most lean levels. That is, the rectus abdominis is actually a sheet of muscle. The striated appearance of several abs stems from the fact that tendons run through the sheet.

Even looking at professional level bodybuilders, you will see some–despite every one of them achieving Maximum Muscularity–displaying eight-packs, some six-packs, and even some with four-packs!

Low bodyfat is definitely a must, but I don’t go so much by getting to a certain b.f. percentage because as others have mentioned, how you store your fat is a lot of it.

For example, I was training with a friend of mine about a year ago and I tested his bodyfat. He had very even fat distribution all over, and although he was at 11 percent and I was around 7, he actually looked just as lean around the midsection as I did.

For competition-level abs, it will generally require getting the skinfold down to 4 mm. give or take. Best I’ve ever done is 6. That record WILL be broken in the Inferno Challenge!

For me, I store fat predominantly in the abdomen. I also have short, tight hip flexors that contribute to protruding lower abs and need some addressing as well (working on it). Right now I have full vascularity (or “veininess” as one of my buddies calls it) virtually everywhere on the body but the abs are still needing some work.

And having strong abs definitely helps…if you’re not using some good resistance on them, you won’t get the full cosmetic effect. Doing sets of 100 reps on crunches isn’t going to do jack.

I always laugh when someone comes into the store and wants to lose fat and says something to the effect of, “but I already do sit-ups and crunches for two hours a day, seven days a week and I still have a gut!”

You know Monty Ritchie, I used to think that way as well(high reps won’t build muscle, you must work them heavy just like any other muscle) But before the 90’s, high rep abs was what everyone did. The best period of abdominal development, in my opinion was seen with the bodybuilders of the 70’s and 80’s and these guys did abs for hours on end thinking they would burn the fat in this area. Though we now know this isn’t the way to burn fat, how can you argue with the ab development of those guys. I know for myself, my abs start to show their best when I’ve been using a lot of high rep training. I think this is one of those highly personal things that makes bodybuilding as much an art as it is a science.

Id say a great set of abs is 50%bf level, 40% genetics and maybe 10% training. To some, an outrageous statement perhaps, but ive seen guys display the most amazing set of abs at low( i.e 4-6% bf) levels of bodyfat…the fact that they were struggling with 135lbs in the bench or trying to get the same amount up in the squat is another issue, but IMHO ab strength and maximum muscularity seems to have little to do with a ripped six or even 8-pack. What it comes down to is good genes and total leaness. There is no “ab routine” that is going to get you shredded abs- you are much better off on the threadmill or on the running track rather than doing crunches in a futile attempt to bring out your abs. Remember, the same rules applies to ab hypertrophy as to total hypertrophy- how can you “bring out your abs” or “rip them up” by doing heavy low rep work for them on a hypocaloric diet? Obviously you would have to eat hypercalorically to cause ab hypertrophy and most of us mortals seem to gain a bit of fat along with the muscle- and some of that fat WILL go on your midsection.

The ideal solution would be to specialize on heavy ab training on a hypercaloric diet and then do maintenance work for them on a hypocaloric diet.
OR just be lean and have a ripped up dad=)