T Nation

New Strategy to Visible Abs


I havent seen my abs since the early nineties LOL. It might be because I am now forty one and therefore an age related issue, but sadly, no matter how strictly I diet I never get to the low body fat percentages needed to see clear seperation in my ab muscles. But if I lack the ability to diet down to get visible abs I think I am quite good at accruing muscle mass so have decided to try all I can to pack on the mass and gain visible abs that way.

One strategy says you have to cut all your fat off via diet and cardio before the abs show themselves while the other ( the one I hope to follow ) says, build the muscle and it will burn through the fat so as to show your abs.

What are your thoughts on this issue. The visible ab issue appeals to bodybuilders and non bodybuilders alike And is it the cut to reveal abs or the build to reveal them?


Believe it or not the growth potential of abs is not that great. No one ever added many pounds of muscle in the abs if you know what I mean. Their size and ability to grow is more genetic than anything.

Diet is a bigger contribution to visible abs. You can have huge abs but if you are not lean enough you will never see them.

So include ab work in you program but don't over do it and then you need to work on losing body fat. The best way to do that is through diet. Cardio not as much, but it can help too. But I rather save my energy for the weights.


Well actually I seen a dude that had abs very visable, yet he was fat around 15 to 20% bodyfat... No joke I like what the hell this is not right. Seen him in person so it is possible...


If you widdle away the bodyfat around your stomach and are a heavy weight trainer you will have abs, whether you trained them exclusively or not.


You have been watching to many late night infomercials. Diet, diet, diet, diet, diet... and more diet.


Steven : You MUST losefat to see your abs. Building muscle is a great, great idea and will only help in your endeavor, but in order to see abs you must be at a very low body fat percentage, and that means STRICT dieting for a prolonged period. Also, a muscle building diet usually packs on a few pounds of flab in the long run because of the calorie surplus.

Codypt - How do you know he was 15 - 20% ? I HIGHLY doubt he was that high in body fat if did in fact have very visible abs.


He might just be a chubby guy with a set of implants. They�??re out there...


I think everyones' abs have a degree of geneticly determined size to them (or maybe it's just from stuff you did as a kid, high school sports etc). I've seen dudes with thicker abs just like someone might have thicker biceps.

I never train mine, yet from years of doing deads, squats, and overhead pressing without a belt, when I actually diet down, POOF! there they are as if by magic. Of course as I get older (34 now), my motivation to diet down gets less and less. I just prefer to feel bigger and see my traps stick out of a shirt than feel small and know that in the really off chance my shirt gets pulled off in a wrestling match while buying groceries and fighting over the last jar of natural peanut butter, that everyone will ooh and ah at my washboard.



Cheers guys, looks like its back to the diet then.


Don't cut out all the fats. Just cut your calories.


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Diet is the most important thing, we all agree.

But dont neglect heavy ab training. How big was your chest before you started lifting? I would disagree with those who say you can not add mass to abs. I think these people usually just dont train them because they dont enjoy it. A few sets of sit ups is not abs training. Look at so many NFL players, their cores are THICK with very little body fat.

Since beginning heavy cable crunches and woodchops a few months ago, my abs have gotten bigger even as I have gained body fat.


You can gain muscle mass while dieting down. I've done it. Try a new fat loss training program here and do a carb cycling diet (like the Anabolic Diet or Dave Barr's Frontline Fat Loss). Working for me.


Well for one he was flabby like his arms were not tight or cut same with his legs and pecs. He just had very visable abs, other than that he was pretty scrawny.


I'm going to have to follow everybody else's advice and say, build the muscle with cable crunches/woodchops and variations of situps/crunches (don't go overboard, maybe 2 exercises 3 - 4 days a week).

Diet is the most important, I'd say. Once I realized I could stay on a lower carb plan and run, I haven't really gone back to anything else.


i think building up the abs is extremely crucial. i was at a pretty low BF& (lower than 10 higher than 5) and my abs werent very appealing/visible. now i dont know if it was something wrong my diet or the fact that maybe my abs werent trained properly but ive really emphasised ab work during my bulk and am looking forward to hopefully having some super thick abs when i diet down.


Let us know how that goes, I think general consensus is that "yes", you can build them a little bigger, but not so much as to that being the deciding factor. The main way to see abs is the get rid of the fat in front of them, not to build them up behind the fat. Obviously a better built set of abs will also look more impressive once "revealed" by dieting.


Regardless of the bodyfat I'm carrying around I can always kinda see the outline of my abs.

I have dieted down twice. First time I didn't train abs directly, and wasn't really pleased with the final result. Second time around I trained abs every single workout beforehand and there was huge different. I don't know what's the norm, but in my case abs have big potential for growth. They didn't really grow until I started doing heavy work though (6-8 reps).


It all depends on your body. If you haven't seen abs since the 90's more then likely you need a combination of building muscle and dieting.

Ronnie's abs have great potential for growth compared to others. This is more of a curse, because you can't just do abs all the time or else they start to get too big and when not sucking in makes him look fat, but if he doesn't do them enough they start to lose tone and don't look as ripped even when flexing.

I like CT's view for people who have a tough time showing them. You need to build enough muscle to create separation and low body fat to show them.

Follow one of his programs pick a particular diet follow it for a 2 months and see your results.

just a though 20rm deads always seem to do wonders for my bringing out my abs, it's just tough to want to do them more then every few months.


The answer is that it's BOTH. It's diet & exercise, not just one or the other that will give you the look you want.