Since you’re reading an article about how long it takes to get abs, I’m going to assume a few things are true about you.
First, you’re trying to get a six pack (or, at the very least, a four pack), and you want to know how fast it’s going to happen.
Perhaps you’ve been trying to get a six pack for months, and you’re feeling discouraged because you’re not there yet.
Or maybe you’re just starting out, and want to know how long it’ll take before you can look in the mirror and see your abs.
So, how long does it take to get abs… really?
How Fast Can I Get Abs?
The length of time it takes for you to get a six pack depends on how much fat you need to get rid of, how well developed your rectus abdominis (AKA the six-pack muscle) is, and what “getting abs” means to you.
In other words, there is no single correct answer that will apply to all people, all of the time. Nobody can tell you exactly how long it’ll take to get washboard abs, because they don’t know.
To get a six pack, you need two things – abdominal muscles that are sufficiently well developed, and a low body fat percentage. No matter how well developed your abdominal muscles are, you won’t be able to see them if they’re hidden under a thick layer of fat.
So, the first step to getting washboard abs is to lose the fat from your stomach. That might take you two months, six months, 12 months or longer. It all depends on where you’re starting from and how quickly you’re able to shift the fat.
However, getting rid of fat is only part of the story. You also need to build rectus abdominis if you want a real six pack. Lose fat without building up your abdominal muscles, and you’ll just end up with a flat stomach, rather than bumpy washboard abs.
There are some people who are genetically gifted in the abs department, and don’t need to do a lot of direct abdominal work. Unless you’re one of them, you’ll need to train rectus abdominis directly if you want it to grow.
Just like any muscle, building rectus abdominis will take time.
In fact, gaining muscle happens a lot more slowly than losing fat. Gaining five pounds of muscle might take 3-4 months, depending on how long you’ve been lifting weights and how well you respond to resistance training. But you can lose five pounds of fat in 3-4 weeks.
People also differ, both in terms of how fast their muscles grow, as well as the type of training they respond best to.
Some lucky folks add muscle mass relatively quickly when they start lifting weights . They’re called “fast” or “extreme” responders. For others, the results come much more slowly, even if they lift and eat the same. They’re known as slow responders.
If you’re a slow responder, you’ll need to be patient. Reaching the point where your ab muscles really “pop” out and look the way you want may require several years of hard, consistent training.
Can Anyone Get Washboard Abs?
Anyone can lose fat from their stomach, and develop their rectus abdominis (AKA the six pack muscle). But, for some folks at least, getting a true “six pack” will be out of reach.
Even if you’re doing the ab exercises I show you inside my MX4 training program (https://muscleevo.com/mx4), and following the greatest diet ever devised in all of human history, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to get a six pack.
If you’ve lost a massive amount of fat, for example, you’ll be left with a lot of loose skin around the abdominal area. Short of surgery, there’s no way to get rid of it.
And not everyone has the genetic makeup necessary for a true six pack.
Rectus abdominis is just one muscle, extending down the stomach from your ribs to your hips. It’s crossed by strips of connective tissue known as tendinous inscriptions, which give your abs that “beaded” appearance. The way these bands of connective tissue “cut” into rectus abdominis has a big impact on the way your abs look.
Here’s a picture I took some years ago, when I was getting ready for a photoshoot:
As you can see, my lower abs are relatively flat, giving me more of a four pack than a six pack.
The number of distinct abdominal “beads” that show up once the fat has been lost – be it four, six or eight – has a lot to do with your genes as well as your work ethic.
Some people will be able to get a six pack, while others may end up with a four pack. One side of your abs (once you’re lean enough to be able to see them) might look different to the other, giving you three “beads” on one side and two on the other.
Your abs may pop out like cobblestones, or they might resemble a flat, brick wall. They may look crooked, uneven, or asymmetrical. And, short of having a renegade surgeon perform the world’s first “ab transplant,” there isn’t a great deal you can do about it.
It’s also worth pointing out that climbing the ladder of leanness becomes progressively more difficult as your body fat percentage drops.
Going from 25 to 20 percent body fat will require willpower and hard work. However, moving from 20 to 15 percent isn’t going to require a little more of a push, but a lot more.
An even higher level of discipline and focus will be needed to go from 15 percent to ten, which is why so few people ever get there.
Summary: How Long Does It Take to Get Abs?
For your abs to really “pop,” you need a low body fat percentage along with a well-developed rectus abdominis. The length of time it takes to achieve both of those things will vary from person to person. Everyone is starting from a different place, and will make progress at different rates.
But if you want a rough idea of how long it’ll take to get abs, here’s what to do.
1. Spend some time thinking about what I’ve just told you.
2. Come up with a number – 12 weeks, 6 months, 1 year – or whatever you think is realistic.
3. Take the figure you’ve just thought of and double it.
The number you’re left with is probably not going to be too far off the mark.
SEE ALSO: THE FLAT BELLY CHEAT SHEET
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a “cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF that tells you exactly how to get rid of belly fat. To get a copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please click or tap here to enter your email address.
ABOUT THE AUTHORChristian Finn is the nation’s leading authority on science-based, joint-friendly ways to build muscle. A former "trainer to the trainers," he holds a masters degree in exercise science, and has been featured in or contributed to major media on two continents, including the BBC and Sunday Times in the U.K. and Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness in the U.S.