How To Show Off Your 6-pack WITHOUT Endless Amounts of Crunches

So you want 6-pack abs, huh?

Well, I'll let you in on a little secret: We all have a 6-pack, you just can't see it.

If you've ever asked someone how to get a 6-pack and they told you to do crunches, then you were lied to. But don't worry, they probably didn't lie on purpose, they just don't understand how your body works. You can do crunches all day and night but, if you still have a layer of fat over them, you'll never see them.

You can't pick a spot on your body, do exercises just for that part and have the fat JUST from that area disappear. Your body fat is one layer; when you lose fat you lose it from the whole layer equally. So, wherever your fat is the thickest, that's the last place for it to completely leave. The sad thing is that our midsection seems to be one of the thickest spots on average.

Lower Your Body Fat Percentage

So, if you want to show off your 6-pack, you're going to need to lower your body fat percentage. You'll have to build up the muscle to get them to show earlier and look better, but you need to get that layer of fat off there first. The only way to do that is to burn more calories than you consume.

There are two factors you have to pay attention to: your diet & your activity level.

From my personal experience, you need to pay attention to your diet first. You need to eat less calories overall in a day than you're use to. Eat smaller portions, but eat more often, never let your body go hungry.

Stop eating fast food or guzzling soda and beer. Cook at home more often so you know what you're eating. Get lots of protein from lean meats, fish, dairy and nuts. Don't cut your carbohydrates out completely, just eat a little less and choose better carbs like: wheat breads, brown rice, wheat pastas and so on. Load up on your vegetables; they have very little calories on average and will fill you up. Eat fruit as your snacks and watch out for saturated and trans fats. Unsaturated fats, like what's in fish, are actually good for you. And of course, make sure you're drinking enough water.

Next you're going to want to be a little more active. You don't have to have a gym membership, there are so many different things you can do to be more active. You can ride a bike, go on hikes, do body weight exercises and so on. Anything you do above and beyond what you did before is going to help you burn extra calories. Have fun with it and you won't think of it as a chore.

If you want to run then I recommended that you do intervals. They are more efficient at burning calories, not only when you are running but throughout the rest of the day and they'll save you time.

If you want to lift weights, you can workout in an interval style too. Lift fast with very little rest between your exercises and do a few different exercises back to back in circuits. Then you can take a breather for a minute or two and then start the circuit over again.

How To Check Your Body Fat Percentage

There are five methods you can use:

  • DEXA Scans
  • Hydrostatic weighing
  • Bod Pod
  • Body fat calipers
  • Digital body fat scales and handhelds

Out of the five, the DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) Scan would be your most accurate choice. These are a bit more expensive and you'll have to have them done by a doctor. But they're painless and very accurate.

A cheaper and almost as accurate method would be Hydrostatic weighing. Sometimes a college will have them or your doctor might be able to do it for you. They weigh you once normally and then weigh you, after you exhale all your air, as you sit immersed in water. Fat is more buoyant that muscle, so the fatter you are, the less you'll weigh in water.

You could also use a Bod Pod, which uses Air Displacement Plethysmography, to figure out your body fat percentage. They're not quite as accurate as the first two methods but will cost you around the same amount as hydrostatic weighing.

Another good way of finding out your body fat percentage is to have someone at your gym use body fat calipers on you. You'll want to have someone who has done it before, so that they can give you accurate results. You'll also want to try to have the same person do it for you each time to accurately gauge your progress. They'll pinch your skin at different places on your body with the calipers and be able to calculate pretty well where you're at in terms of your body fat percentage.

You could take the easy route and buy a scale that has body fat sensors, you can even get a handheld one, but these aren't as accurate. They send a current through your body and since muscle is a better conductor than fat, it can calculate it by that. The problem I see is that I'm not so sure the current will go the whole way through your body. The handheld ones might only show your upper body's body fat percentage and the scales your lower body. I'm not sure if this is completely true, but I'd think it'd take the shortest route down one arm and then back up the other. But one thing that does affect the readout on this is the amount of water you have in your body. These will still give you an idea of where your body fat % is at; it's just not as accurate.

So stop overtraining your abs, they get worked plenty by other exercises you do in the gym anyway. Watch what you eat, be more active and get your body fat percentage lower and you'll be on your way to showing off your abs.

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How Do YOU Get Your Body Fat Percentage Checked? 24 comments

Lisa 9 years ago

Wonderfully written and informative research. Thanks for providing visual aids and how-to on where to find these things. Not just preaching but providing resources to make this happen. THANKS! I guess chasing my overly active 3 yr old around the house isn't burning enough calories because I still have my "love handles" from giving birth.


Nick (I want six pack abs) 9 years ago

Great hub - I have a tanita body composition monitor/scale. It's great.


ninaredza profile image

ninaredza 8 years ago from Malaysia

My bodyfat sensor scale is now hibernating under my bed. I think I'll leave it there for the next generation. What I do is wear a two piece workout outfit, stare at the mirror in the gym and see if my six pack is still staring back at me. if it's not, it's a call for an additional body combat class or cross trainer. I'm not letting ab fat get the best of me!

Thanks for the tips.


kettlebellnathan profile image

kettlebellnathan 8 years ago from Calgary, Canada

I found measuring the circumference of my waist the best measure of fat change.


Tim 7 years ago

Ok great information, however just burning body fat will not endure a good set of abs. It is important to consider that, ok everybody does have abdominal muscles, however with no work being done to them at all, the desired results will not be achieved unless u have a lean somatotype and even then the six pack does not look impressive as the muscle looks flimsey and unpolished. I have been traing my abs for a while now and can suggest a few pointers. yes you are definitely correct in ssaying that it is important to burn the fat, however for best results i recommend doing 100 crunches very slow. make sure there is an up part and a down part. Then give yourself a little rest. perhaps endure some oblique crunches (to help tone your sides) then some more sit ups and finally a plank to help stabalise your muscles. ok it sounds bad yes, however these simple exercises will make you feel great and help 'beef you up' and it only takes 25 minutes out of your life. Think of it as a SIMPSONS EPISODE HA!


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Good point Tim,

I just wanted people to realize that you can't show off what's hidden. So if you want to build it up muscle-wise under that layer of fat then no one will really see it. Your first aim should be to get that fat off your belly. You can do ab exercises while you slim down and it'll help make them stronger for whenever you actually do have visible abs. Or, if you want, you can wait until you've slimmed down and THEN start working directly on your abs.. All up to you, but that fat has to go!


john 7 years ago

wel i am john dis wedsite does nt show hw u gt 1 rele i am nt fat bt sit-ups are not working...


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Hey John,

The only way for your abs to be visible is to lower your body fat percentage as the article explains. You don't have to be "fat", even slender people walk around every day without a visible 6 pack. Ab exercises will help strengthen your muscles but, without lowering your body fat, you'll never see them.


James S. Thornton profile image

James S. Thornton 7 years ago from California

Thanks for the sound advice.

I agree.

Don't obsess over abs.

At least not until the point where your fat percentage is low enough that you can get them to start showing.


How to Loose Weight Fast 7 years ago

Great hub with some wonderful meal suggestions. Thank you for stressing the importance of eating. So many people try to starve themselves while "dieting", only to do more harm to their bodies. You mentioned drinking plenty of water; staying hydrated can make all the difference.


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Yeah... You don't have to starve or suffer to look good!


cbris52 profile image

cbris52 6 years ago

I'm working on getting abs for the first time... I've been eating a lot of tuna lately.. but can't you eat to much tuna and get mercury poisoning?


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Yes cbris52, it's been said that you can get mercury poisoning for tuna... but chunk light canned tuna seems to be your best bet because it has the least amount of mercury.

I've read that if a 200lb man ate one can of chunk light tuna a day he'd experience no adverse side effects..

As always, too much of a good thing is a bad thing... especially when it contains mercury!


sean 5 years ago

six pac is starting to show on my upper abs really good but the lower abs are not showing have you got any advice on how to get them showing


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 5 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

You really can't spot treat, sean... so the only way to get them to pop out is to lower your overall body fat percentage and possibly do some exercises that really target your lower abs.

The exercises will help start to shape them and give them a tiny bit of volume that might make them visible sooner, but the lowering of your body fat percentage is the key.

So get your diet in check and do exercises like reverse crunches, swiss ball roll outs (or use an ab wheel), or reverse ball crunches


CJamesIII profile image

CJamesIII 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

Awesome hub! Now that I'm getting older, keeping the weight off or managing it is simply more challenging. Yoga is great for the whole body.


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 5 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Thanks, CJamesIII! I know what you mean, even though I haven't quite hit 30 yet, I can tell that my waistline seems to be a magnet for fat and it's harder to melt it back off as you get older!

I haven't tried yoga myself but it seems like it'd help keep you really flexible.


NotMyName 5 years ago

When the picture showed: Alchohol, or anorexic teen stomach. I chose alchohol.

Not that im a fat guy skinny hater.. I just like the beer. That's all. HA


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 5 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

I wouldn't call that anorexic or a teen stomach, but to each their own, NotMyName... drink up!


rasw 4 years ago

I like your point about how fat is all over our body and we need to in general get rid of fat first. And also how most of the fat goes to our stomach.

This is a valuable hub to people who do not know. You have great ideas!


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

Thanks rasw! I'm glad you got something out of it... and hopefully others will too!


I like chocolate 4 years ago

I like candy a lot. Only dr. pepper and pop rocks for me


Bendo13 profile image

Bendo13 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado Author

I guess you'll be having a 6-pack of Dr. Pepper then, I like chocolate?


shuey 03 profile image

shuey 03 4 years ago from Utah

"I'll let you in on a little secret: We all have a 6-pack, you just can't see it."

Classic! That's what I'm going to tell my wife when she tells me I'm getting a little pudgy around the waist.

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