Images of toned abs, flat stomachs and six-packs dominate American culture. Walk around any city, and you’ll see billboards of fitness models and celebrities showing off their trim tummies. But strong abs are more than just a fashion statement. We all know that a robust core offers great stability and strength—but how long does it take to get toned abs?
Your abdominals are formed of 4 main muscles groups including the internal obliques, external obliques, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis.
The fastest way to get abs is through a sustained exercise programme paired with a healthy, whole foods focused diet.
How long it takes you to see abs depends on a few factors including your age, gender, genetics and existing body fat percentage.
The safest and most sustainable way to get abs is to work with a fitness coach who can design an exercise programme, and make dietary suggestions tailored to your needs.
What are abs?
Abs are abdominal muscles. Your abs form part of your core, alongside your glutes, and back muscles. All these muscles work together to support the spine and provide stability for your pelvis. Your abdominal is made up of four different muscle groups located on the front and sides of your body.
- Internal obliques. Deep set muscles located on the sides of your body that help with rotation and lateral flexion of your trunk.
- External obliques. Cover the internal obliques and help to rotate the trunk as well as draw the chest down during respiration.
- Rectus abdominis. These muscles run vertically from your ribs to your groin and are responsible for the six-pack look.
- Transverse abdominis. The deepest of the core muscles. Responsible for lumbar stability.
What percentage of body fat is needed to reveal your abs?
If you have a layer of excess fat over your abs, you won’t be able to see them. You'll need to burn the fat from your abdominal region to reveal your abs. Below is a table of average body fat percentages for different body types.
How long does it take to get abs for females?
The question of how long it takes for women to get abs is one that comes up a lot in fitness circles. The time it takes for a woman to get abs will be dependent on a few factors, including her existing body fat percentage.
Body fat above 32%
If your body fat percentage is above 32% it’s likely that it will take between 1–2 years of dedicated fitness training to burn the fat and reveal your abs. It’s best to start with a personal trainer, or online fitness training program, that can help with a diet and exercise plan to make sure you lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
Body fat 25-31%
If you have an average amount of fat, then it’s going to take approximately 6 months to 1 year of fat burning and fitness training to see your abs. You’ll want to focus on a calorie reduction diet, aiming to lose about 1-2% of your body fat per month. It’s important not to rush. You want to be focused on losing weight in a healthy way.
Body fat 20-25%
If you fall into this category, you can expect to get abs within 3–6 months. However, you will still need a robust fitness regime that you’ll be able to keep up regularly. Focus on cardio, body weight and free weight exercises to build muscle and burn the fat to reveal your abs.
How long does it take to get abs for males?
Overall, men tend to have less body fat than women. But the length of time they need to train to start seeing abs is similar. Let's look at how long it takes to get abs for men.
Body fat above 25%
If you fall into this category, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like giving up. It’s likely that it will take between will take between 1–2 years. But the more patience and persistence you have, the faster you’ll see results. Speak to a fitness coach who can help you design a training schedule and diet plan to stick to.
Body fat 18-25%
For a man with an average amount of body fat, you’ll likely see your abs within 6 months–1 year. You’ll still need to stick to a bulletproof fitness regime and diet plan. Focus on a gradual weight loss through diet, cardio exercise and weight training.
Body fat 14-18%
Even though your body fat is well within a healthy range, you’ll still need to apply weight training and cardio fitness to see those abs. The good news is that you should be able to see them within 3–6 months. But remember to keep training in order to sustain your new physique.
How to reduce body fat percentage and get a six-pack
Although your abdominal muscles are always there, you can’t always see them underneath layers of fat. In order to get defined abs, you’ll have to get up and get active—they won’t magically appear if you just sit there and wait for them to emerge. But how long does it take to get visible abs? The only way to build up your abs and to actually be able to see them is through a constant application of fitness techniques and a healthy diet.
If you don’t know where to start, then head to your local gym and ask for a personal training session with a fitness coach. They’ll be able to help you design a fitness program that is suited to your body and goals. A personal trainer will also give you an idea of how long it will take to get abs if you work out every day. You can also talk to a nutritionist to make sure you are losing weight effectively and continuing to eat in a healthy way.
Watch that diet – apply a calorie deficit
In order to burn fat and lose weight effectively, you need to apply a calorie deficit to your diet. This means that you are taking in less energy from food than you burn during exercise. This needs to be done carefully and sustainably. It is common for people to begin trying to reduce body fat by just eating a lot less than normal and exercising more. Doing this will lead to exhaustion and discouragement.
Yes, you do need to eat less and move more, but do it slowly. Gradually reduce your calorie intake as you start exercising. Aim for a 100-150 calorie reduction to begin with and work your way from there.
- Plank. Plank exercises are great for strengthening the whole core, and they target your abs in a big way. How long it takes to get abs using planks depends on the frequency and intensity of your regime.
- Obliques. Working out those muscles at the sides will give you a really defined shape. Side planks, Russian twists and side crunches are some of the best ways to get cut abs.
- Running. Running is a great cardio workout to burn the fat that sits on top of your abs. How long it takes to get abs from running depends on how often you run and for how long. You’ll need to add weighted exercises, though, you won’t get defined abs just from running.
- Crunches. Classic sit-ups, resistance band crunches and weighted crunches are all excellent exercises to tone, strengthen and define your abs.
- Swimming. How long does it take to get abs from swimming? You’ll have to swim at least 6 days a week for a sustained period of time. You’ll need to get the heart rate going to burn excess fat by using front crawl. Swimming does activate almost every muscle in the body, so it’s great for getting toned if your body fat percentage is already fairly low.
Factors that influence how quick you can get abs
There are a few factors that influence how long it takes to get abs.
- Genetics. Genetics plays a huge role. Some people seem to just be born with a six-pack. Their parents will most likely be very lean, with a family history of low body fat.
- Gender. Women tend to have more overall body fat than men, so it can take a bit longer to get abs for women.
- Medical conditions. Medical issues like diabetes, thyroid disease and other conditions which lead to decreased activity can affect how long it takes you to see abs. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s important to speak with your doctor before embarking on a hardcore diet and fitness regime.
Can you get abs if you are skinny?
Yes, you can get abs if you are skinny. You will need to focus your diet around protein to build muscle, and design an exercise plan that focuses on muscle building without weight loss.
How fast can you get abs if you work out every day?
That all depends on your percentage of existing body fat, age, and gender. If you have an average amount of body fat and apply a consistent calorie deficit to your diet whilst implementing cardio and weighted workouts—you should see a noticeable difference within a year.
What workouts help get abs fast?
If you have an average amount of body fat, your fastest way to toned abs is through a combination of cardio workouts to burn fat, and weight training to build muscle. Try combining a 30-minute HIIT class and finish off with 20 minutes of exercises like weighted sit-ups, weighted planks and deadlifts. Make sure to keep those abdominal muscles engaged.
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