How to Get a Six Pack: Are Crunches Enough?

Sexy? Yes. Worth the effort? You tell me.

Wisdom aside, many people first start working out because they want the almighty six pack. Of course, it’s my hope that these exercisers eventually come to appreciate the much more powerful and transformative benefits of working out, but there’s new denying the ubiquity of the six pack.

In fact, more than 40,000,000 web pages (now 40,000,001) are dedicated to the subject. So what’s the secret to abs of steel? And are crunches enough to carve out a washboard midsection?

The simple answer is it depends.

In terms of effectiveness, crunches and sit-ups are at the top of the list. Researches from Slippery Rock University put many popular ab products to the test and found that we need not waste our money on fancy equipment to activate our abdominal muscles (check out my equipment-free 5-minute ab workout on YouTube). Researches wrote:

For the 8 exercises examined in this study, the Ab-Sling, Ab-Rocket, crunch, and sit-up produced the most muscle activation in URA and LRA, but because participants would neither purchase nor use the Ab-Sling or Ab-Rocket, the sit-up or crunch should be prescribed for rectus abdominis exercise.

That’s good news for our wallets. But are crunches really a magic bullet if you’re going after the superficial Jersey Shore six pack? If you’re naturally very lean, then yes – you can stop right here. But for the rest of us, no.

Here’s the real secret: A powerful workout that incinerates any body fat hiding your abs and a smart but lower (not crazy low) carbohydrate diet.

The good news is that you may already have a six pack. The bad news is that it’s probably comfortably hidden under a layer of body fat. Even a small and healthy layer of body fat will do a good job to hide your abdominal muscles from view. But if a six pack is really your goal and focus (spending that same energy elsewhere may be more rewarding), then you’ll have to step up the cardio and really monitor your eating. Goodbye pizza and pasta and hello up-hill sprinting and intervals!

Sure, they’re sexy. But do you think it’s worth the energy and effort to carve out a six pack? Let me know in the comments below.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. I’ve never seen an abs machine, in the gym or certainly not the junk that’s advertised on TV, that gives anywhere near as good a workout as you can do yourself on the mat. Your recommendations are excellent.

  2. Abs are, by far, the muscle group I enjoy working out the least (even more than quads :), so I always try to look for a variety of ab exercises to work with (but not those lame machines they advertise on TV).

    BTW Davey, in a typical four workout day week, how many of those should I dedicate to abs? Should I do them every day after my usual workouts or only some days? And how many sets/reps?

  3. My sixpack barely even shows when I go down to 7% bodyfat, except when I’m all dehydrated after training. Everything else is all defined and veiny.
    My goal is to be able to keep participating in competitive sports and enjoy life. I eat and exercise with my eyes on that goal and I’m not going to change my diet or fitness regimen just to scrape that last half-inch of fat off my abs. I already look fabulous ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. ok i’ll try to get washboard abbs so goodbye pizza

  5. never had a six-pac.. did have nice abs… when i was in my 20’s and early 30’s… my two cents.. a strong core and a healthy well maintained total body is good enough… id prolly have to start smoking to get washboard abs…

    once i passed 40, and living with high five for 20 years, i have realized that yeah, a ripped six-pac looks really sexy, but its not for me.. its enough to be able to see the mole inside my belly-button without having to pull the fat out of the way…

    i am glad though that there are some guys that can easily pull off a six-pac… thanks for the eye candy…

    – cheers.. david

  6. My goal has always been to just have a flat stomach…when I meet that goal, then I will worry about the 6-pack

  7. honestly, iv been going to the gym for a month, and i have not even worked on my abs once. I dont feel the need for a 6 pack, i got to much body fat to even consider them in this stage of my workout, i hit my bigger muscles, so my metabolism works all day. maybe if i lose enough weight then ill start to work my abs.

  8. I am so glad you concluded your article the way you did. So many people try to get a 6 pack without REALLY understanding what it takes, and at what cost.

  9. wow! nice article, by looking at the comments you can conclude that people now a days are more focus in their health and well being

  10. wow! nice article, by looking at the comments you can conclude that people now a days are more focus in their health and well being

    sling trainer

  11. Hi, I thought this was a nice article. Thank you for posting.

  12. These ab exercises are confirmed to be the best lower ab exercises.
    All of these so-called fitness “experts” that have
    weight loss books on the market. Each of us need to develop
    an abs workout schedule that not only defines us as individuals.


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