Many times I’ve been asked, “What should my body fat percentage be to uncover my abs?”
Men hold most of their fat in the abdomen. You cannot spot reduce body fat and the only way to shed it is to reduce your overall body fat.
Well, having those six pack abs with a defined V line are surely the hallmark sign of an aesthetic physique.
But what fat percentage do you need to need for all that visual abdominal goodness?
Generally, at 15% body fat, the upper two abs would be visible but not the bottom ones. Push it a little harder and trim about three or four more percent and you have your six pack visible.
With body fat percentage between 6 and 13%, you will definitely have a six pack along with looking totally ripped but many of us find it may still not be as visible as we would like.
The big question then is how lean we need to be to get those abs? Below are three core factors that play a vital role in body fat percentage and physique.
1. Abdominal Genetics
The looks and layout of your abs are dependent on their genetics. For example, one may have naturally looking blockier abs while the other would have less conspicuous ab development. Similarly, if someone has smaller intercostals, they will not show. Moreover, they will need to have a lower body fat.
The layout of the abs is also important; some individuals have staggered abs, and some have perfectly lined up abs. Furthermore, some people also have the capacity to create a whole eight pack and others may only have four or six at a low body fat percentage. However, this is something not to be concerned with. Don’t worry if your abs are staggered — it is a natural process.
2. Body Fat Distribution
The second important factor is body fat distribution, and every person has a different one. Like we discussed with the abs genetics, here too, the shedding of fat from different areas will vary. For example, you may lean out on your arms, legs, and shoulders but you still have quite a bit of fat in the midsection. If this is the case, you have to get to 7-8% body fat for some great and well-defined abs.
Contrary to this, some people lean down smoothly over the entire body, and this is what we call perfect ‘body fat distribution.’ Even at 10-13% of body fat, their abs will be visible.
If you manage to see your abs at 10% body fat, this would be perfect because maintaining a 10% fat percentage is far easier compared to 7-8%. Moreover, it is good for your health as well.
3. Train Your Core
The last factor is core training. Forget the above two factors for a while. Training your abs the right way is also important. This makes them stronger, thicker and more visible. Though it is not easy in the beginning, the longer you train your abs for, the more likely you’ll be able to transition into doing more advanced abs movements.
Abs don’t show up overnight — it takes years of training, sweat and hard work to develop super powerful abs.
Check out my exercise guide to obliterate your abs!
How to Maintain a Better Body Fat Percentage
This is where many people fail, and this is the very reason why many people don’t have six-packs. You have to do what others aren’t doing. If you are already active and healthy, the next thing to do is take your strength to new levels and to shed the maximum amount of body fat. Here are some tips to that might be helpful.
1. Count your Calories
Very important! Body fat is part of playing the calorie game. Find out where you are eating too much. If you are fit, foods like peanut butter, avocados, hummus may seem very good but overall every calorie is equal so you need to count each one of them.
2. Keep a Balance of Carbs and Proteins
It is recommended that to develop strong abs, we should consume four to six ounces of protein in every meal and a half cup of starch with a couple cups of vegetables. Ideally, you should aim to have three main meals and two smaller protein snacks in between. This way, your metabolism is boosted with the body remaining in an anabolic state throughout the day with stable blood sugar levels. This burns fat faster and increases energy levels.
3. Consider cutting alcohol or at least opting for low-calorie beers
Alcohol content is directly related to calorie content, so high-alcohol craft beers can be 350 to 400 calories a pop. That’s a really heavy hitter that potentially halts the fat burning process, destroys your B vitamins, causes dehydration, and feeds you empty calories—all really detrimental for your fat levels from a single source.
4. Push the intensity of your training sessions with some HIIT
When planning your workouts, focus on weight training to build muscle and high intensity interval training to shed fat. You can get abs without doing crunches, but if you want them really defined, you need an overall workout to enhance all the muscles in the body.