Good morning! I recently got asked if you can get six pack abs just from running. Normally I would respond to a fitness question with “it depends”. In this case the answer is a resounding NO.
I can hear you now asking “why is it so black and white?” Honestly, 6-pack abs are a combination of two things: reduced body fat and increased ab muscle thickness. The reduced body fat can come from running to a certain extent, but it can also lead to reduced overall muscle in your body. That means those abs you want to show off may be too small to really show. It also means running is missing 50% of the requirements for 6-pack abs as it doesn’t build thicker ab muscles.
Additionally, you need a diet that’s spot on to support the fat loss and muscle building needed for those amazing abs! You could run 40 miles a day and still not lose enough body fat to show off your abs due to your diet. A lot of people view exercise as a punishment or a justification for what they ate. So you could run all day long and not out run a bad diet.
What SHOULD you do if you want six pack abs then? The foundation would be to start off by eating more high quality foods such as lean meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, etc), and little to no sugar. Limit alcohol to 1 to 2 drinks per week (ideally quit it all together) and get at least 7 hours sleep a night (muscle grows mostly when we sleep). Start lifting weights at high intensity 3-4 times per week and sprinkle in some conditioning workouts 1 to 3 times per week.
This will help burn fat and build muscle. Big movements are best as they will require you to use your abs in a big way (if you want them to grow you must use them). The Top 3 exercises I’d recommend for building abs that to pop out of your body would be the Overhead Squat, Hanging Toes to Bar, and Weighted Gluteal-Hamstring Developer Sit-Ups. Each uses your abs in a different way and the combination of all three will encourage growth of every section in your abs.
If you’re REALLY serious about you 6-pack goal, do the following three things in addition to the foundational items: take a DNA test to find out your individualized nutrition and exercise requirements, use a WHOOP strap to monitor strain and optimize recovery, and hire a professional coach to turn that data into a plan for those head turning abs.
We’d love to see you apply these tips and send us your before and after photos! If you’re just starting your journey send those pictures in. It’s easy to lose track of where we started when we see ourselves daily.