Getting six-pack lean
In the early days of a transformation program, it can be really tempting to dream about how you're going to look at the end, whether it's 10 weeks from now or later than that. And ever since the book "Body for Life" made before-and-after transformations mainstream 20 or so years ago, a crucial part of the "after" dream is how defined your abs are.
So how lean do you really need to be to see your abs? It's a question we get all the time. According to Bodybuilding.com's science editor Krissy Kendall, who has performed thousands of body-fat analyses of all types of bodies and athletes over the course of her career, here are the numbers you need to know (acknowledging that it can vary by a few points for every person):
Abdominal definition (lean, with some hints of abs):
- Men: 10-12 percent
- Women: 18-20 percent
Abs (like, the ones you can count):
- Men: 8 percent or lower
- Women: 15 percent or lower
Why did we include abdominal definition? Because while "dem abs" seem to get all the love on Instagram, definition is also a worthy goal—and one that is far more attainable—and sustainable—than the "abs" level of leanness. Train consistently and stick to a reasonable, consistent nutrition plan, and you can likely get defined without having to be miserable. If you want abs, there will most likely be some misery involved.
We're not here to tell you your goals are wrong. If you want abs, go for them; they're definitely impressive! But in our book, they're not as impressive as a healthy lifestyle that you can keep living months or even years after your "after" picture. Now that's something worth showing off!
* Ratings as of article's date of publication