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Muscle Growth, Personal training, Fat Loss

Is It Harder For Women To Get Abs Than Men?

By Jeremiah Bair on May 7, 2018 4:37:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


Abs are the ultimate sign of hard work and dedication. We all want visible abs, men and women alike.

Is it harder for women to get visible abs?

For most, yes.

Before we dive into WHY getting abs can be so frustratingly hard for women, let’s clear up some way too common myths about getting abs:

You don’t get abs by doing thousands of crunches.

You don’t get abs by doing hours of cardio.

You get abs through:

Calorie deficit (very important)


Training abs properly (less important)


Patience (so very important)

For more on how to diet AND train to get shredded abs, check out this blog. So anyways, what makes all this harder for women than men?

Essential Fat

To function properly, we need a certain amount of “essential fat”. Essential fat is necessary for our bodies to function normally. Women require more essential fat than men, both for proper hormonal function and as a stockpile of energy in the event of pregnancy.

Normal body function can be disrupted when dropping below 15% for women, and below 5% for men. For optimal health, body fat ranges of 18-30% are recommended for women and 15-25% for men.

So, women naturally hold onto more body fat than men. They need more, just to function properly. Getting visible abs requires reducing body fat to very low levels. See the issue here?

For women, dieting down to extremely low levels of body fat can often lead to a variety of hormonal issues, such as loss of a normal menstrual cycle.

Harder To Build Muscle

Carrying more muscle increases your metabolic rate. Because of its positive effect on the metabolism, more muscle makes it easier to get lean. The leaner you are, the more your abs will show.

Certain hormones are crucial to muscle growth. The especially famous hormone testosterone is one of the primary drivers of muscle growth.

Women (usually) have drastically lower levels of the hormone testosterone than men, which makes building the same amount of muscle as men harder.

What’s A Girl To Do?

So, maybe a bit harder for women to get there abs to show up. But, it’s definitely still doable.

Action steps:

  1. Train your abs with resistance. This will grow your ab muscles thicker, making them visible at higher body fat percentages. For a full ab training program, again click here.
  2. Women have been told that super high-rep, light weight, pink dumbbell isolation work is the way to get toned. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Focus on getting stronger at compound movements in primarily the 5-15 rep range.
  3. Women’s drastically higher estrogen levels are actually super helpful for muscle recovery/preventing muscle loss. This means women can handle more training volume (sets X reps X weight) than men. Full body training sessions are usually the way to go.

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Jeremiah Bair

Jeremiah is an ACSM certified Personal Trainer from Nebraska. He also has a Business Management Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Over the last few years of his career as a personal trainer, he has fallen in love with the way fitness allows him to connect with people. Nothing is more rewarding to him than helping others transform into happier, more confident versions of themselves. His goal is to share his knowledge to help as many as possible lead long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

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