I'm a 16 year old boy who weighs 140lbs and I'm skinny but not unhealthy skinny and was just wondering what I should be doing to get my abs to show

  • You probably just need to slowly gain weight in the form of muscle. What sort of training history do you have? Jul 24, 2019 at 0:26
  • I am assuming its more a matter of gaining muscle than dieting down if you are 140lbs. How tall are you?
    – MJB
    Jul 24, 2019 at 6:14

3 Answers 3


Given you age and weight consider the following

You will have one window where you are going to make more hormones and be injury free. That time is now. Once this window starts to close and you get some miles on your joints things will change.


  1. Learn how to properly train the big lifts
  2. The big lifts would be squat, deadlift, row, overhead press, pull up, dip, and because you are going to do it anyways bench press
  3. Master these lefts and get strong AF in them with good form.
  4. Shoot to squat 1.5-2X bodyweight, deadlift the same, bench over 200, 10-20 pull-ups, etc

You can not squat or overhead press big numbers with out abs to support you.

We had a 16 year old squat over 500... yes he had abs.

Nutrition Given everything above... learn to eat enough... as some have already stated you are likely not eating enough. No diets. If you make better food decisions and train hard and focus on getting stronger you will have abs.

Carbs 1 gram of glycogen (thanks to the reader that caught this error and suggested the correction) attracts 3.75 grams of water... or there about. Muscle is 70% water. If you completely cut carbs you will not look very lean and defined. Instead you will look flat or like I often tell clients like a fat swimmer.

Ab Training If you read this far you are thinking... the question was about abs... and this answer makes no mention of having trained or training abs... what gives?

The six pack muscle or rectus abdominus and the obliques will get plenty of work if you do the big lifts above. Why not direct work like crunches, side crunches, bicycles, Russian twists and the like (FYI I just listed most of the six pack exercises)... Data and in the field experience suggests that lots and lots of trunk flexion is bad for the low back. Research by Dr. Stuart McGill supports this, have not hear of him...Google him. My experience personally and with some... note I did not say all... mirrors that.

Better Ab Training

  1. Pallof Press 12 reps
  2. Plank 30-60 seconds
  3. McGill Curl Up 15 reps
  4. Bird Dog 15 reps
  5. Cat Camel 15 reps

3 sets of each in a super set, 3 times per week.

Training core this way will make sure you are safe doing the big lifts. Safe doing the big lifts means you will be able to keep adding weight to the bar.

More weight to the bar and the abs will have to get big (not I did not say fat) strong to support the load.

Make better food choices...and you will be shocked at what you abs look like.

Sleep This one is a freebie... get 7-9 hours per night.

FYI... we had a 16 squat 5 bills...

Keep your joints healthy and that window I mentioned that will slowly start closing just may stay open a bit longer in terms of injuries and what lifts you can or cannot do or have to modify.

  • I believe you probably meant that 1 gram of glycogen (not "carbs" from the diet) attract 3.75 grams of water (various sources say 2-4 grams). And 1 gram of carbs does not translate into 1 gram of glycogen.
    – Jan
    Jul 26, 2019 at 11:47

Depending on how tall you are, you may need to consider gaining weight if you want to see abs. Those abs are muscles that need to be trained if you want to see them, just like your quads, biceps, or any other muscle.

If you switch your focus to eating well, recover properly, and getting strong (with GOOD FORM!), abs will show themselves naturally.


I don't necessarily agree with the comments/other answer. Everyone has abs regardless of whether or not you have ever done a core workout. They will certainly look better if you train them but regardless of how muscular or not they are; The problem is men carry almost all their body fat in the gut, where women carry it in the arms/legs. This is why a man can have a "beer gut" and arms that look shredded, and women can have a little fat on their arms and legs but a skinny waist. In order to get them to really show you need to be around 8% body fat or lower. In order to do this I recommend cutting out as many carbs as you can. I can assure you though if you reduce your body fat enough your abs will be very prominent.

Note: There is basically nothing healthy about this, and in my opinion having visible abs without a lot of muscle mass elsewhere just looks weird so I don't recommend this venture.

Also as you are concerned about the six pack I should point out that what most people think of as ab workouts (crunches/sit ups) mostly only exercise your top 2 abdominal muscles, to work the lower ones you need to do leg lift type exercises.

Most importantly: Not that most people have the will required to do it, but in case you do: Absolutely do not cut out all carbs...you will die. I found that once I began to understand how easily carbs convert to fat in the body that knowledge alone fixed my diet as much as needed. Just understand that carbs are essentially extremely concentrated energy for your body, unless you are really depleting your bodies energy store on a regular basis through things like marathon running, long strenuous weight lifting sessions, long distance biking, etc. You need almost no carbs. The average person can probably get by with a single piece of fruit a day.

  • If whoever downvoted has a comment I would love to hear it. I have stated in my answer that I don't really agree with this route but I believe that it is basically a fact that lower body fat means more visible muscle...I'm not sure how one could debate that. There are also plenty of people with enormous ab muscles that do not show until they are under at least 12% bf, but for the average person 8-10% is when they start to show.
    – jesse_b
    Jul 25, 2019 at 19:59
  • I would guess that it's related to the quote "do not cut out all carbs: you will die." There are diets where people do cut out all carbs, and survive just fine. It supposedly forces your body to consume fat instead of carbs. You do have some good interesting content though -- if you could provide sources for a lot of the claims there, you'd have a +1 from me.
    – Cullub
    Jul 27, 2019 at 20:55
  • Then again, I could be wrong too. Your main problem here imo is a lack of references.
    – Cullub
    Jul 27, 2019 at 20:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.