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I'm a new user on this site.

Recently, I had an idea of training to get six-pack abs. Although I've been doing a lot of research (I'll show them to you below), I still can't find an effective way of training. What I mean is, first, I've searched for "how to get 6 pack abs", and I've found some exercises I can do to get abs (Sit-ups, crunches, reverse crunches, planks, side planks, and active straight leg raise). So far so good. The question is, when I searched for them one by one on the Internet, there started to be different opinions.

For example,

  • Sit-ups. Some sites point out that doing sit-ups can never get you a six-pack:

A sit-up is actually the least effective abs exercise you can do. Doing 100 sit-ups a day will not change your body in the slightest. Source

  • Crunches. The same, some sites say that crunches won't get you a six-pack:

Not only do they not target all the muscles you need for a six-pack, crunches may also set you up for injury. Source

  • Reverse crunches. Well, some sites say that it's actually the most effective way of getting a six-pack.

The biggest benefit of this exercise is that it targets your rectus abdominis, your six-pack abs muscles as the primary function of this muscle is to flex your trunk and spine. Source

So there are many different voices about those training, so instead of risking to try only one or two of them, I decided to try all of them. Here's my plan:

  1. 80 Sit-ups - 3 sets
  2. 20 Crunches - 5 sets
  3. 100 Reverse Crunches - 3 sets
  4. 40 seconds Plank - 5 sets
  5. 20 seconds Active Straight Leg Raise - 5 sets
  6. 20 seconds Side Plank Left & Right Hands - 5 sets per each.

I'll provide some information for you to answer my following questions.

Gender: Male
BMI: 19.1
Body Fat: 9 ~ 10%
Age: 13 (I'm not located in the European Union, I'm in Taiwan, so I can use Stack Exchange as long as I'm 13 years old or older. Only users in the European Union should have the age of 16 or older. Source1, Source2 )

I think that's all information you need, but if other information is also required, you can tell me in the comments and I'll edit my question.

Ok, so my question is:

  1. Will I be able to get 6-pack abs in a month if I use my plan above? If not, what other abs exercise should I do?

Yes, I want to get it in a month, because I'm attending a swimming camp next month, and I really want to get abs before that. I'm doing the exercise every day, so it should be able to get abs in a month, no matter using my plan or if there are better and more effective ways. And please also note that I'm doing it at home, so I can't do exercises that require any equipment. And I'm also having a stable diet, so you don't have to consider about my eating habits when answering.

Thanks!!!

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  • 1
    Are you sure about your data? If I feed your BMI and (Body Fat weight+Lean body mass) into a calculator, I get a height of about 162cm. And the generic body-fat model at omnicalculator doesn't let those numbers go anywhere near 23% body fat. Indeed you are not going to show your abs with that level of body fat no matter what exercises you do. Conversely, any calculator that is only looking at age/gender/height/mass is merely fitting you to a statistical model, not measuring your actual body fat.
    – gwaigh
    Jul 31 at 8:15
  • @gwaigh Hi, sorry, I've forgotten to tell you my age. I'm 13 years old (but I'm not located in the European Union, so I'm old enough to use Stack Exchange) So you need to choose "teenager" instead of "adult" in the calculator, and enter my age (13).
    – user38338
    Jul 31 at 8:40
  • @gwaigh I'm 162 centimeters, and 50 kg, so if you type them into the omnicalculator, you can find the result I included in the question.
    – user38338
    Jul 31 at 8:42
  • @gwaigh Sorry for the inconvenience, I'll also be editing my question to update the missing data.
    – user38338
    Jul 31 at 8:42
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    Okay, I had not thought to check an age that young. But, this gets back to my point about statistical modelling. I suspect 13 year old Taiwanese boys are not well represented in their calculations. Which means you should use a more direct measurement of body fat before basing decisions on that information. Someone else will have to speak to the plausibility of developing defined abs in one month.
    – gwaigh
    Jul 31 at 11:48

2 Answers 2

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Recently, I had an idea of training to get six-pack abs.

This is not a good idea. Having a six-pack is mainly just an indicator that you have extremely low body fat, possibly even to the extend of it being unsustainable or unhealthy. How much muscle you have doesn't have much to do with it.

At your age, deliberately trying to reduce your body fat to the point where your abs are visible could be especially harmful, and could even stunt your growth.

The question is, when I searched for them one by one on the Internet, there started to be different opinions.

That's because everyone is lying. Unfortunately it's an extremely common for fitness influencers to want to make themselves appear unique by promoting ideas that are different to everyone else, and the easiest way to do this is to just lie.

For example, sit ups are a common way of strengthening the abs that have been well accepted for almost as long as deliberate, planned exercise has existed. They are undeniably safe and effective. But if a fitness influencer makes up a story about sit-ups being either dangerous or ineffective, many people will react to this by believing that the influencer possesses some knowledge about ab training that no one else does. It's a very effective way of manipulating people into following you and giving you money.

So there are many different voices about those training, so instead of risking to try only one or two of them, I decided to try all of them [at the same time].

This is not a good idea. By combining so many different workouts into a single workout, you will create one of two possible scenarios:

  1. You are doing the exercises hard enough for them to be effective, but now it is impossible for you to complete the workout because you become completely fatigued when you're only 25% of the way through the workout.
  2. You are making the exercises too easy, so you can complete the extremely long workout, but it isn't effective because all your exercises were too easy.

If you want to train abs, here's a simple but effective program: Just pick a few (3-4) exercises, whichever ones you like best. Exercise selection really doesn't matter that much, and you're likely to get similar results no matter what you choose. Though it's best if the exercises aren't so easy that you can do more than 50 reps in a single set, because you tend to get less hypertrophy when the resistance from an exercise is so low that you can do that many reps. Also, the rectus abdominis is all one muscle, so you don't need different exercises to train different parts of it. There are no distinct "lower ups" and "upper abs" exercises.

Then, do these exercises 2-5 days per week, with any workout scheduling that results in you doing 10-20 total sets per week. Each set should not have a specific rep target, but should instead be done until you feel like you can barely complete another rep. Rest 2-3 minutes before the next set. If you end up doing more than 50 reps, maybe think about changing to a different, harder exercise.

I want to get it in a month, because I'm attending a swimming camp next month, and I really want to get abs before that.

But if you want to impress people at a swimming camp, surely a better way of doing that is to work hard on getting better at swimming, rather than training your abs?

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  • "...surely a better way of doing that is to work hard on getting better at swimming..." What if I'm already good at swimming?
    – user38338
    Aug 4 at 3:17
  • @Eden0516 then you should be able to impress people without needing a six-pack, and you also shouldn't risk compromising your swimming performance by dieting in an attempt to develop a six-pack! Aug 4 at 4:21
  • Why don't I impress people with my swimming performance and a six-pack?
    – user38338
    Aug 4 at 5:30
  • @Eden0516 if you can, great, but it might be that the six pack comes at the cost of a reduction in swimming performance. Aug 4 at 5:51
  • You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Doing everything has its pros and cons, it just depends on what you want you get. Getting six packs or better swimming performance, you have to make a choice between them, you can't get both of them, and I want to get six packs. As the saying goes, "You cannot sell the cow and drink the milk.", isn't it?
    – user38338
    Aug 4 at 7:11
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First, these calculations are an estimate and might not be accurate. But ok, you got a starting point. Let's go from there.

If you're really 23% body fat at 13 years old you won't see abs until you get much leaner first, no matter what ab exercises you do. (I'm editing my answer according to the new edited question)

What I'd suggest:

Calculate your daily caloric needs and get into a small deficit (eat less than you burn). There are plenty of online calculators, for example this one. Check how many kg do you need to lose to drop around 1% body fat and go from there. There's no need to go extreme.

Track what you eat (at least for now). Use a food scale if you have one. Log your food on something like MyFitnessPal or similar apps. That will help greatly making sure you're not gaining fat for the next month.

Do some resistance training exercises. You want to lose fat, not get weaker, so you should incorporate resistance training to be able to keep the rest of your muscle mass during your deficit. Lifting weights or calysthenics, full body workouts, regularly (3-5 times per week, depending on the intensity).

Progressive overload. It will be easier to see your abs if the muscles are bigger, otherwise you'll have to get even leaner. But your body adapts, so you need to increase the load over time, be it by adding weights or adding reps. I believe you don't need all 6 ab exercises right away, you could start with less variation (crunches, reverse crunches and leg raises) and add more reps or add weight every week (just holding a heavy bag while doing crunches, for example). Planks and static holds just take too much time.

Treat your abs like any other muscle, train them again once they recover and are not too sore, perhaps every other day at first.

Don't forget rest and recovery. Try to get 8h of sleep daily, recovery is important for both fat loss and muscle growth.

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  • Hi, thank you for spending time to write an answer, but I have a few questions. "If you're really 23% body fat at 13 years old you won't see abs until you get much leaner first", I've tried other calculators and formulas, and they all say that my body fat percentage is around 10%.
    – user38338
    Aug 1 at 3:28
  • I don't know which one is correct, but as a 13-year-old teen whose BMI is "almost" the lowest in my class, I'm certainly sure that my body fat is absolutely not the same as a person aged 60 ~ 79. Well, let's assume that my BMI is about 10%. What should I do? Should I stick with my plan? Or are there better ways to build abs within a month? (I hope it sounds logical to want to build abs in one month for someone whose body fat is 10%). You can just forget about the 23% thing. I already edited my post to correct it.
    – user38338
    Aug 1 at 3:39
  • @Eden0516 ah ok, that is a different story... I don't trust BMI because it's not accurate - people with higher muscle mass will hit the BMI of obese despite being lean. If you're around 10% BF it might be easier, I'll edit my answer.
    – Luciano
    Aug 1 at 7:49
  • Ok, one last question. How long will it take for me to build abs? Assuming that I'm eating healthily? If it's too hard to answer, maybe at least tell me whether it's possible to build abs in one month? Thanks!!!
    – user38338
    Aug 1 at 10:39
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    Encouraging a 13 year old who has a BMI of 19 to track their food intake and eat in a caloric deficit is highly irresponsible, as it would carry the risk of leaving them with an eating disorder or stunted growth. Yes, low body fat is necessary to have visible abs, but a better answer to the question of "How can I get a six pack?" would be to tell the person to forget it and instead get better goals, especially when that person is a child. Aug 2 at 1:06

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