How long does it take to get six-pack abs?

The amount of time it will take for your six-pack abs to become visible will depend on a number of factors, including your current weight (mainly body fat percentage), diet and exercise routine.

If you are already lean and fit, it will generally take less time for your abs to show than if you are overweight. This is because the lower your overall body fat percentage, the faster it will be to see your abs. The more you weigh, the more fat you will need to burn.

The exact body fat percentage that you should aim to reach will vary from person to person, because we all store fat in different areas of our body. One person might store a lot of fat around their abdomen whilst another stores it around their thighs. If you store less fat around your abdominal area, it would generally also take less time for you to see a six-pack.

There has been a lot of debate between fitness experts as to what body fat percentage you should aim for to see visible results. This is largely dependent from person to person, but an average number is 10 – 11% for men, and 15 – 18% for women.

Measuring your body fat percentage

To get an approximation of how long it will take for you to reach this range, you first need to know your current body fat percentage. There are many ways of measuring this, with some methods being much more accurate than others:

Body fat calipers – you can purchase body fat calipers online fairly cheaply and they provide a pretty good estimate of your current body fat percentage. The procedure involves ‘pinching’ your skin using the calipers at various places around your body and then using those measurements to calculate your body fat percentage. The method is very straightforward and you can find more detailed information on it here. If you don’t want to do this yourself, most fitness instructors should be able to help you out.

Body fat scales – you can buy weighing scales that pass an electric current through your body and give you an indication of your body fat percentage. The problem with this method is that it isn’t entirely accurate, and numbers can vary greatly.

Water displacement & DEXA scanning – both of these methods are extremely accurate ways of measuring how much body fat you have. The first involves you climbing into a tank full of water and having a computer make measurements. The second takes an X-ray of your body and provides you with detailed data. The main problems with these 2 methods is that they cost quite a bit of money to get done and it might be difficult to locate a place that does them.

Out of the three methods, we would recommend using body fat calipers as they are cheap, fast and quite accurate.

Once you know your current body fat percentage, you can then calculate an estimate of how long it will take to get to the desired percentage.

Calculating how long it will take for your abs to be visible

The first thing you need to do is calculate the actual amount of fat that your body has. This is easy enough to do – simply multiply your weight by your body fat percentage (as a decimal). For example, a man who weighs 140 pounds and has 20% body fat will have 140 * 0.20 = 28 pounds of fat.

This number can then be subtracted from his weight to give us an indication of his lean mass, i.e. 140 – 28 = 112 pounds.

We know that his goal is to have a body fat percentage of 10%. So we can calculate how much he should weigh, by taking his lean mass and diving by 0.9 (this is obtained by taking the goal fat percentage as a decimal and subtracting from 1, i.e. 1 – 0.9; if his goal was 12% body fat, the number would be 1 – 0.12  = 0.88 and so forth).

So his weight would be roughly 112 / 0.9 = 124 pounds when he has 10% body fat.

Finally, we can calculate how much fat he would need to lose in order for his abs to become visible: 140 – 124 = approximately 16 pounds of fat loss.

How long would it take to lose 16 pounds of fat? Again, it varies from person to person and there is no standard number for everyone. An expected amount of fat loss would be between 1 and 1.5 pounds per week.

This means that it would take between 10 and 16 weeks for his abs to show up.

Granted, this number is not set in stone and some people might even be able to lose 2+ pounds of fat per week, meaning they will see faster results.

There are two important things to note:

The first is that it is impossible to target what parts of your body burn fat (also known as spot reduction). So if most of your fat is on your belly, you can’t directly instruct your body to only burn fat in that area.

The second point is fat loss is not consistent. One week you might burn 1.5 pounds of fat and the next only 0.5. This shouldn’t discourage you; monitoring body fat percentages should not become an obsession or a deterrent. Keep going and you will eventually get there.

Now that you know approximately how long it will take for your abs to be visible, here are some tips to ensure they are nice and big when you can see them. The article includes information on what you should be eating, supplements you should be taking and what types of abdominal exercises to do.


The amount of time it will take for your six-pack to be visible will depend on your current body fat percentage and your diet. If you have little body fat to begin with, you will generally see faster results.

It can take time for you to reach your fitness goals; the important thing is to not give up or get discouraged. The last bit of belly fat (aka stubborn belly fat) can often be the hardest to get rid of and requires perseverance in order to do so. Keep going and eventually you will get there!

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