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Fat Loss, General Health

How Do I Get a 6-Pack?

By Shannon Cole on Jun 12, 2023 9:30:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


During a consultation with a prospective client, I asked him what his main goal was. By this point, we had just finished his physical assessment where numerous mechanical deficiencies were noted, and his BMI was considered overweight. He suffered from chronic back problems, and always seemed to be running on fumes.

But getting a 6-pack was his main priority.

There is nothing wrong with striving for a 6-pack, but before we get into how to actually make that happen, keep these things in mind. 

  • It is extremely difficult to get a 6-pack. Don’t expect results in a month or two.
  • There is a genetic component to achieving a six-pack. Not everyone has the same muscle belly structure, which means two people who both have strong abdominals may have midsections that look completely different from one another.
  • Maintaining a 6-pack is even harder than getting one, especially as we age.

And most importantly, a 6-pack does not equate to happiness.

I don’t think people realize how rare it is to actually achieve a 6-pack, but with a LOT of hard work and patience, it is possible.

To really achieve a defined midsection, there needs to be some resistance training involved to make that happen. The role of the abdominals include trunk movement and stabilization, which means your abdominal muscles are made to do more than look pretty.

When we train for a 6-pack, we also want to be mindful of how they help us in stabilizing during complex movements. When we correctly squat, deadlift, or complete exercises that involve free weights, your core [should be] working to maintain proper posture throughout the movement. The more demanding the exercise, the more it is required of us to use our core, which also helps us reduce the chances of an injury occuring. 

You must be thinking, “That’s great and all, but about those abs….” We’re getting there.

A lot of time needs to be dedicated to purely abdominal movements. Think of these times as mini trigger sessions added to your workouts. If you only complete 1 or 2 core exercises a day, 3-4 days a week during your workouts, you’re not getting in nearly enough reps to get a 6-pack.

Increase the number of exercises to 3-4 at the end of every workout, with 2-3 sets per exercise. Sometime during the day, maybe after dinner or when the kids go to bed, commit to completing another 10-15 minutes of abdominal exercises. Keep in mind that you may need to neglect other body parts as you focus on developing your abs, as you divert some of your workout time to core movements.

Now onto nutrition.

When I say you need to be dialed in, you need to be DIALED IN. This means far fewer cheat meals, very minimal sugar and alcohol, and reducing fatty foods and starchy carbohydrates.

Calorie counting will be your friend as you work on reducing the number of daily calories you consume. This number will vary from person to person. Protein is most definitely your friend during this time. Not only is it vital in the muscle protein synthesis process, but it is very satiating and has a high thermogenic effect. Your body requires more energy to metabolize protein compared to carbs and fat, making it highly thermogenic and an excellent contributor to weight loss.

This brings us to reducing body fat.

You can lose weight, while still having a high body fat percentage. In this case, you may see the pounds go down, but you’ll lack definition. To get this to happen, there needs to be a healthy balance of creating an energy deficit, while enhancing your abdominal muscles. This is tricky to get right, because it requires you to eat less while moving more. As I mentioned, protein will be your best friend as you go through this process, because it will help reduce cravings and keep you feeling fuller, longer.

If you want to learn more about how to reduce belly fat, you can read more about that here.  

In summary, here are the things you need to focus on:

1. Calorie deficit

2. More protein

3. Emphasis on abdominal exercises, during your workouts and trigger sessions

Be Ready to Commit

This is probably the most important component when trying to get a 6-pack. Everything else I have mentioned is necessary, but if you don’t have the right mindset, it will never happen. 

It is a long process that entails a lot of sacrifices when it comes to how you program your workouts, how much you eat, and the quality of foods you consume.

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Shannon Cole

Shannon Cole is an ISSA certified personal trainer and lives in the Dallas area. She is a certified nutrition coach through NASM and NCI, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. After obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication she eventually gravitated to personal training, and hasn't turned back since. Her passion for athletics and fitness initially stemmed from her high school years playing golf, and her love for the sport still hasn't faded; her career goal is to obtain her Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification and develop strength and conditioning programs for golfers. You can usually find her working out in her garage gym, or training for the next Spartan Race with her husband.

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