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Quickest Surest Way to Get Abs?


I've been on TRT for a few years now. Had low test for most of my adult life. I am finally at a point where I am committed to improving my physique and can keep up a consistent routine and diet.

My goal is to have an athletic looking physique with slight ab definition. I'm not talking abs that pop out or look mean, just a little outline that you see on skinny soccer players or swimmers.

Do you think leaning down over the next few months to 10-12% BF will get me that look?

Part of me thinks that there are abs hidden beneath the flab and I want to lean out to see what happens, but another part thinks I don't have enough muscle mass. I hate to make this a classic cut or bulk question, but what do you think is the quickest way to get abs?

FWIW, I am currently 6' 180, my body fat read 16% on a handheld device, but it could very easily be closer to 18-20%. In this pic I am a little bloated because I did heavy squats the day before.



Not a direct answer, but a similar question from a few weeks ago: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/abs_help_

I personally would focus on muscle mass first, and work to get a better understanding of what your diet is doing for your body composition.


Sort of helpful, but that guy was 6' 120 lbs. My lean body mass outweighs his entire mass by a good 20-30 lbs,. I know that sucks for body building purposes, but I'm just looking for a little ab definition. FWIW I can squat 225 ass to grass, and do a plank for 4 min. This is what leads me to believe there might be some abs underneath.

In case this helps, here is little more about my routine and diet.

I'm currently lifting 4X per week. I do a day for chest, back/shoulders, legs, and arms. Usually in the neighborhood of 8-12 reps, 3 sets, and 3-4 different lifts per body part.

Chest: Flat, incline, dips, flys
Back/Shoulders: Pullups, seated row, shrugs, shoulder press
Legs: Squat, seated calf curls, lunges, dead lift
Arms: bicep curls, seated triceps press, tricep pushdown, skull crusher

I do 30 min of intense high incline running after every workout. I eat about 200g carbs, 200g protein, 100g fat per day.

I've been doing an occasional 24 hour protein fast to cut fat. Overall, been losing about 1.5-2 lbs. per week for the last month.



Lets do some logical thinking here.... your 'abs' are a muscle like any other muscle you work on. What do you do when you want to add mass to your biceps or chest? You progressively overload them, right? Do the same here.

Find a few exercises that will allow you to add resistance in an comfortable easy way, and start doing them in the 8-12 rep range, with great effort. I don't mean blowing through your 12 reps and stopping, I mean earning your 12 reps, just like you would with your pecs or biceps.

The abs can handle a greater workload than your other muscle groups, and they recover faster (that is what I personally believe), so you can subject them to a higher volume than you would honestly think. So, do 5 sets of 12 reps of Weighted Hanging Leg Raises.

I'm in the same spot you are, minus the low test, and from my research, that is what I'm doing. I obviously use more exercises, but when I started off, my first few weeks were mostly 1-2 exercises that I overloaded.


Great, I can definitely add this to a few of my workout days, and look at other ab movements. I figure though that diet will ultimately be the most important variable to me seeing my abs.


Yeah... maybe. I've been low body fat before(5% per my athletic strength coaches) and I did not have the 'abs' that I wanted to have. However, I'm at 12-14% right now(guesstimating) and I like my abs better now than I did at 5%... and it's mostly due to the whole 'mass' thing you touched on earlier.


Hmmm, don't know its even possible for me to get as low as 5%. I'd probably look like a concentration camp victim if I did that. I was wondering if I would start to show around 10-12%. This is kind of the bread and butter number people through out for abs to show, but muscle mass is obviously another variable. The thought was even if I didn't show abs at 10-12% my body would be in a spot where it's easier to pack on lean mass.


Your body fat percentage is too high. At your current muscle mass, you would have to be around 165 to see the results it sounds like you're looking for. My suggestion would be to do an established resistance training program (there are a bazillion out there, and as a beginner, most are just fine), and diet down to a lower body fat percentage. There are plenty of good articles on dieting on this site. Look at Nate Miyaki's stuff for starters. Planks are mostly irrelevant to ab aesthetics, as you should be aware of by now, given your own experience. FWIW, I probably couldn't do a plank for a minute. All I do is lift heavy shit and eat right. No ab-specific work.


I appreciate it, flipcollar, this is more or less what I'm doing. My routine is not a program per se, but it was developed by a trainer at my gym. He said not to do too many ab workouts, but I think it couldn't hurt to add the leg raise as Claudan suggested, and perhaps a few others.


So then your goal isn't really to find "the Quickest Surest Way to Get Abs?" Just checking.

Not to be a Donnie Downer, but that kind of athletic look you're talking about isn't going to happen until to gain 20 or so pounds of muscular bodyweight, at least, and then you can consider cutting back down (if needed).

Nope. A cut isn't the answer. Adding muscle is.

Bodyfat percentages are pointless and those handheld things are super-inaccurate.

That training program you listed needs major improvement. Your triceps, for example, should not be doing the same amount of work as your entire legs. Follow this routine for the next 90 days:
That'll get you on a much better track all-around.

Again, I definitely don't think this is the right call.


I posted to get all kinds of opinions so I definitely appreciate this! But realistically I don't think I need 20 lbs of muscle to get the look I'm talking about. Do you think that every 6' guy with abs has 170 lbs of lean body mass? And my legs are getting worked with the high incline cardio 4 per week.


I will look at that routine, though!


Why don't you post a picture of what you want to look like? A celebrity, fitness model, whatever. This would give us a better idea of how much lean body mass you would need for your own ideal physique. If you drop to, say, 165 lbs, you may have abs, but you're probably going to look like shit overall. That being said, everyone's different, and what looks like shit to me might be exactly the look you're going for.


Good point. This is the best example I could find. Eventually I'd like to add more mass than this, but I don't ever want to look fat while attempting to add more mass. For me, the key is to always have a physique that I can be somewhat happy with.



You may not want to hear this but you really need to gain size. You are going to be very disappointed if you attempt to get visible abs right now. I made this mistake early on. I am a FFB and dropped from 230 to 160. Yes I had decent muscle separation, but it wasn't what I expected. I just looked thin not defined.

To be honest looking at your photos I think you maybe OVER estimating how much lean mass you have. I know I did. Now I am up to 190 with the same level of bf and much happier.

just my .02


Much appreciated. The thing is I've never been in that 160 range, so I can't say. I'm waiting for somebody to laugh at me for posting the soccer player photo, but I could live with that TBH.


David Beckham... what a legend.


If your goal is to look like that, join a soccer league. Beckham looks like he does very little upper body resistance training.


No, there are certainly plenty of tall guys with defined abs weighing a buck fifty, but we were talking about an "athletic look." Beckham, handsome though he may be, if I saw him on the beach, I wouldn't think "that guy is a professional athlete." He has abs and nice tattoo work, but he's skinny.

But like Flip said, everyone's goals are their own thing. I'm just giving you an outside perspective of what I understand "athletic looking" to mean.

I promise you, they are not. Cardio work, even "high intensity" cardio, will not build any leg muscle worth mentioning unless we're talking about resistance-based cardio (like prowler/sled work). And even then, it's very rarely being done instead of weight training for the legs.

You don't have to "get fat" to gain size, but the point remains, you're not defined now and you said you eventually want more mass than Becks. It makes no sense to take step or two backwards right off the back (cutting for the next few months), before focusing on building muscle 100%. If you decide not to, that's your thing.

Especially at 6' tall, a fairly lean and well-muscled 190 pound body looks "better" and more athletic than a very lean and under-muscled 160 pound body.


Dude, why do I have the feeling we're going to end up back in this kind of thread...