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How Long Does It Take To Get Six-Pack Abs? ANSWERED!

how long does it take to get a six packYou can know with mathematical certainty how long it will take you to get a six-pack.

But before we get into that let me quickly explain how you actually get a six-pack.

It has nothing to do with long cardio sessions. It also has nothing to do with doing hundreds of sit-ups or crunches.

There are basically 2 steps:

1) Get your body fat percentage under 10% (below 17% for women)

2) Build the abdominal muscles underneath

Abdominal muscle isn’t made up of some sort of weird or different muscle tissue from the rest of the body. Abs are built in the exact same way as all other muscles i.e. you need to use weighted resistance and work to a high intensity. Sit-ups and kneeling cable crunches are great exercises.

If this is news to you, read ‘How Can I Get A Six-Pack‘ and ‘How To Build Muscle‘ to get a clearer picture of how to succeed in this game.

By the way, you have to get your TOTAL body fat below 10%. You can’t lose fat in just one area. So you can’t target “belly fat” as the scammers like to say (@$$holes). You have to lose fat all over your body in order to take some off your midsection too.

Now you know what needs to be done, we can look at how long it’s going to take.

How Long To Get A Six-Pack

The following formula is a kind of six-pack calculator. Check it out….

As I said, you will need to break the 10% body fat barrier in order to see a defined six-pack. Women need to get below around 17%.

All you need to know is your current weight and body fat percentage. If you don’t know what your body fat percentage is, plug your stats into my ‘Body Fat Calculator‘ in the sidebar of this site.


How did you do? Probably quicker than you thought I’d guess. Let me qualify your result by saying the following…

  • The calculation is based on the new fat-loss formula contained in Total Six-Pack Abs, not on any other system.
  • It tells you when you will hit the 10% body fat barrier. And if you want to get even more shredded, you just have to go a little bit longer and stop when you wish.
  • There are 2 answers – Best CaseWorst Case. Let me explain this…

The calculation is using the least amount of fat you will lose on the program to calculate the worst case (which is 1.5lbs per week), and the most I expect you can lose per week as the best case.

You might still want to work this out manually. Why? This way you can also see exactly how many pounds of fat stand between you and your six pack! Read on…

For example, let’s take a guy at 18% body fat weighing 170lbs.

The first thing that needs to be ascertained is the actual amount of body fat he is carrying.

* Simply multiply 170 x 0.18 = 30.6lbs of fat.

From this we can determine how much lean mass he is carrying:

170 – 30.6 = 139.4lbs lean mass.

So, what’s the goal here? This guy wants to hit 10% body fat.

* We now take the GOAL body fat percentage from 1 i.e. 1 – 0.10 = 0.90

* Now divide the current lean body mass by this figure:

139.4 / 0.9 = 154.89 (rounded to 2 decimal places)

So, our 170lb man would weigh 154.89lbs at his goal body fat percentage of 10% (assuming no muscle gain which certainly CAN happen).

* Next we subtract the goal weight from the starting weight:

170 – 154.89 = 15.11 lbs, let’s call it 15 pounds of fat loss.

The question now is: How long does it take to lose 15 pounds of fat?

Well, it depends on the program you are using. A lot of programs use 1lb of fat loss per week as the top goal. If this were the case then the BEST you can hope for is 15 weeks or about 3.5 months to reach the goal of a six-pack. However, bear in mind that this best-case scenario rarely happens, most people go some weeks with a half-pound, quarter-pound, or even NO fat loss.

A good fat-loss program should result in what I call ‘meaningful‘ fat loss, which is AT LEAST 1.5 pounds of fat loss per week, and sometimes 2-3 pounds under certain circumstances. Also, this fat loss should be continuous – no stalls. If fat loss dips below 1.5 pounds per week then it’s time to employ another weapon in our arsenal to rev it back up.

So, a really efficient plan should see this 18% body fat guy reach his goal in about 6 weeks (best-case), or around 10-11 weeks at worst.

So you can see that gaining a six-pack isn’t the excruciating process it’s often made out to be.

Yes you will have to experience some hunger along the way but so what, it’s worth it. An overweight person shooting for ‘normal weight’ can get there without much hunger, but a normal person shooting for the ‘very lean’ body type will have to put up with this somewhat. Again, a good program will minimize this feeling but will not completely eradicate it.

But hey, 6 weeks isn’t too much to ask to undo what probably amounts to years of poor eating habits, is it?

Here’s those steps again summarized for you

(1) Work out your body fat percentage

(2) Calculate your fat mass and lean body mass in pounds

(3) Subtract your goal body fat percentage from 1

(4) Now divide your current lean body mass by the result of the calculation in step 3. This gives the goal body weight.

(5) Now take this figure from the starting weight to show the amount of fat loss required to reach goal (in pounds).

…or just use my calculator above and have it all done for you ;)

I hope that was helpful to all you six-pack seekers out there.

Take Care,

Mark McManus, trainer & author of the BREAKTHROUGH Arm-Maximizer program “The Arms Blast Experiment Revealed!” & the NEW fat-torching system “Total Six Pack Abs“.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tristan July 30, 2009, 11:16 am

    Great article Mark, helps to give others inspiration for what is the hardest part of any weight loss program – getting from being “normal” weight to having a six pack.

    I’m trimming down at the moment and I’m finding it difficult to keep my motivation – I crave carbs – but having read your e-book on glycemic load and eating a high fat, low carb diet I am able keep my focus, most of the time anyway!

  • Drew Price July 30, 2009, 11:35 am

    The trick is to a) know what you should be doing to loose that 1lb a week without loosing muscle and then 2) develop the habits that mean you keep loosing it!

    The thing is fat loss in a particular spot doesn’t run in a linear fashion.

    Your personal pattern is determined by health, hormones and lifestyle… for example you could loose fat for a while on the stomach, then this will seemingly stop as the majority of fat loss will switch to hips and buttocks for a bit, then maybe to the chest.

    Just my thoughts…

  • Darrin_lean_muscle July 30, 2009, 12:14 pm

    Hey Mark,

    Cool that you provided everyone with a formula. Most of us like step-by-step instructions!

    I wonder though, isn’t it true that there is some variability (for men) in that 10% figure? In other words, it’s possible for someone to be 8% and not really show a 6-pack if they haven’t done any core strength training (anything from squats to planks to crunches or whatever), right? And similarly, someone would be 12% bodyfat but still have nice abs if they have emphasized building the abs, right? And of course, there are genetic variations.

    While it’s a small point, I know some people who have gotten really frustrated that their bodyfat gets measured at 10% and they have no abs. They ask me “why”, but it turns out all they do is run marathons, do curls and bench press, and situps. Uggh. So I say “no wonder you can’t see your abs – you aren’t doing anything for them!” Am I off base here?

  • WHO AM I July 30, 2009, 2:21 pm

    Thanks for that Article Mark, I’m currently on Tspa after coming off another weight gain program that involved many carbs, after going back to the carbs I realised I gained too much fat and decided on tspa for my second or third run. I feel I’m doing well with TSPA this time, I started at 16% body fat and I’m 6 weeks in. Still a while to go yet. I know you go over it in tspa but I’m not always comfortable with doing a carb up just incase fat loss slows, whats your advice? should I keep up with them once per week as your plan outlines.
    Also whats your advice after 8 weeks, a STOP week or just carry on.

    Thank you

  • john July 31, 2009, 8:24 am

    Thanks a ton I have a long way to go 24 weeks with your calculation so here I go.
    Thanks again

  • Mark McManus July 31, 2009, 12:12 pm

    @Darrin. Yes, 10% is a guideline but some people can see them at slightly higher percentages and some have to go lower.
    The genetic variation and the actual size of the abdominal muscles DO count. However if someone has quite big abs (in terms of raw size) they’ll still not be defined at 12%, though they might show through if they are really flexing the muscles themselves.
    @WhoAmI. I’ll email an answer to you as I don’t use this site to discuss specifics of the book (just emails and the member’s forum).
    @John. Good luck bro.

  • Body builder August 1, 2009, 9:59 am

    Hey great formula..thanks for telling it…it is really a cool…
    Could you tell something about the exercise needed for abs….please mention it with pics…

  • Nick Andrade August 3, 2009, 1:35 am

    Great article Mark. It really helps to point out to everyone what a realistic fat loss time frame is. A lot of people get started with unrealistic expectations and give up after only a few weeks of dedicated effort – usually only a few weeks away from their goals!

  • Joe Revod August 11, 2009, 8:55 am

    Hi Mark,

    Really nice article.

    This article gave me an exact guidance to get my six packs abs. In here, you gave us the detail for each steps.

    Can’t wait for your next article.

    Joe Revod

  • steven January 5, 2010, 7:02 pm

    what about the obese people in the 300lb range. with stretched skin they will never show six pack abs without plastic surgery when they hit there goal. they will be in shape but not look it, any suggestions.

  • Ste potter January 10, 2010, 12:03 pm

    13 weeks and counting! I will let you know how it goes!

    Cheers for the inspiration mark!

  • jose February 3, 2010, 3:43 am

    hello there my body fat percent is 12 1/2 my lean body mas is 130 i weigh 148 pounds and i am 5 ‘7 how many pounds would i need to drop to get to the 10% body fat so my abs show more

  • nate August 21, 2013, 3:59 pm

    I wish I could see my abs at 10% bf. I have to get down to 8% to see anything.

  • Jim August 21, 2013, 4:53 pm

    I bought TSPA months ago and just haven’t had time to read it. I realize as reading this article one reason it wasn’t a priority is because I still felt I was MONTHS away. Thanks so much for this tool – suddenly the hope of 11 weeks has motivated me to get it read and acted upon this week.

  • Keith August 21, 2013, 6:36 pm

    Mark, I have always wondered WHERE to measure my waist…at the belly button or where my pants typically sit.

  • Mark McManus August 22, 2013, 12:35 pm

    @Keith. It’s around the belly button.