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The burning question is “What’s a healthy body fat percent for freaky abdominal definition?”

Are you looking for a six-pack, or are you just aiming to be in a healthy body fat range for a fit adult?

I’ll assume you’re after a body fat level that offers a least SOME muscle definition without having to look like a figure competitor. After all, most of us that train regularly and eat properly are already in what I’d consider to be the ‘healthy range’.

Firstly, I’m not talking about ‘muscle definition under perfect down-lighting’. I’m talking about muscle definition that is visible even WITHOUT perfect conditions (not even a tan Mr Orange County).

Unfortunately we are all different

Some people require sub 6% body fat to appear shredded, whilst others only need to get down to just below 10% body fat in order to reveal all six of those pesky little abs.

I train and eat right. What gives?

There are so many factors that come into play when you are trying to achieve low body fat levels. The simple fact of the matter is, some of us will NEVER get there.

You know why?

Because it’s fricken hard work. The diet-control, calorie restriction, non-alcohol drinking lifestyle is just too unappealing for most of the population.

What if i take fat burning pills?

Not a single fat burning tablet or crazy diet will get you even close to a six pack. It’s a combination of so many factors which creates ‘the perfect storm’ — that is being crazy-ripped.

How does one create the perfect storm?

  1. You need to train like a bitch.
  2. You need to up your water intake to flush the sodium from your body (probably double what you are now).
  3. Cut out simple sugars completely. Potatoes, sugar itself, pasta. Only go for legumes, grains and anything that looks like cardboard.
  4. Up your protein intake.
  5. Avoid salt where you can (it’s already present in most foods).
  6. Avoid drinking alcohol (tough one huh?).
  7. Don’t drink soda, even diet variants (they are evil).
  8. Limit your bread intake.
  9. Drink coffee to increase your fat burning potential.
  10. Incorporate some intermittent fasting into your regimen.

As you can see, the list can be exhausting. Not only that, but everyone reacts differently to all of these methods (based on their metabolic type) so it’s trial and error to begin with (until you know your metabolic type! More on that later).

What’s a healthy body fat percent for freaky abdominal definition?

Year round, I like to stay at approximately 10% body fat. It allows me to ward off infection and keep a bit of a 4-pack (under some quality down lights :)) without making too many lifestyle adjustments.
If i train hard around summer time, I can dip it to 8%.
This proves a little more difficult, as I tend to like my alcohol. I also find that If i go too low in the winter months, I pick up colds and flus very easily.

What about abs?

Not really. Abs aren’t the be-all and end-all of physique enhancement.
You can still look great without them (just look at the guy in the header of this page as an example).

But what about those dudes who have freaky abdominals?

The next time you see someone at the beach with a six-pack, don’t think for one second that they are ‘gifted’ — you can bet they’ve put in some serious hours at the gym and are complete food-nazis.
Also I bet they are grumpy as hell right now. Especially as you’ve got a six-pack of beers in your cooler and all they have is a bottle of water, oh, and an actual six-pack.

My bad.

Editor’s note:How lean do you like to stay year round? How hard is it to keep your body fat percent at a reasonable level? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • I agree with a lot of these thoughts…my 10% body fat isn’t the same as your 10% body fat, and it’s seriously hard work to push your body to leaner than its ever been. Plus, to really show off abs, you have to wait for your skin to shrink wrap itself over time. Like you, I’ve been hanging around the 10% area (visible abs with good overhead lighting), haven’t really pushed hard enough this summer due to all the bbqs and parties. Sadly I don’t think I’ll push really hard until next spring. I like my college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays too much…then it’s the holidays…

  • Clint,

    Looks like I’m in the same boat as you. 10% body fat year round, no “freakishly bulging abs” but enough definition to make me a happy camper. I don’t concern myself with calories at all, but rather focus on eating quality food, doing smarter workouts, and getting plenty of rest and relaxation.

  • Hey Clint,

    Yeah…I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said. Getting six-pack abs is hard work. Period!

    It’s especially tough for an “older” guy like me (40+) that also enjoys drinking wine and beer, and eating some dark chocolate every night.

    I tend to carry around a bit more bodyfat than I would like (between 12% and 15%), but I think I still look pretty good…better than about 80% of the guys my age I see at the pool or out in public.

    You can check out my “year round” look in the header picture on my personal blog: I didn’t do any special training or crazy dieting in that photo. I didn’t tan, shave my body hair, take any fat burners, or any other crazy thing people do to look better. I just took off my shirt and my wife snapped my picture in our living room with the camera on my cell phone.

    I look like that almost all year just from following a healthy nutrition plan, with some cheating and intermittent fasting mixed in, and doing resistance training 3 or 4 days per week. If I want to really show my abs, I have to cut my bodyfat down to 10% or less through the exact techniques you mentioned above: more cardio, an incredibly strict nutrition plan with fewer calories and more protein intake, more water, resistance training 4 or 5 days per week, and so on.

    It ain’t easy…but nothing worthwhile ever is!!!

    Thanks again!

    ~ Pete

  • Clint,

    I agree that there is no single magic body fat percentage for a six pack. I’ve gotten down as low as 5% and I can definitely see ab definition, but it’s by no means a raging six pack. I’m not discouraged though, since I’m still relatively new to the whole sub 10% body fat lifestyle. I’m still experimenting and looking to discover my “perfect storm.”


  • As much as I rag on meatheads, I did a bodybuilding show way back in 1997 and got so ripped that I actually looked like I was going to die! I lost muscle and got too light ay around 4 percent. It was a natural show obviously, but even though there were no steroid heads, I still looked too small. I remember walking around like a zombie and being a miserable prick to my wife and kids. It was ridiculous and I never got that low again and never did another show. I actually look better being a little heavier, but in order to have really tight abs, I need to get real low bodyfat. My abs will look good, but my face and the rest of my body looks sick! My wife says that I looked like Skeletor and judging by my results at the show, I probably did.

    Now that I am 41, I would rather look lean, but not too light and still enjoy life. I love to have a few drinks and go out without worrying if I am going to gain a pound or two. With intermittent fasting, I can pretty much eat whatever I want and stay within shooting distance of decent abs.

  • Clint Nielsen says:

    Im hoping a combo of ESE and Visual Impact will get me to the next level this summer. Stay posted :)

    I’m hearing you brother. It’s all about enjoying yourself and not sweating the small stuff.

    I admire your consistent efforts to maintain your physique mate! Top job. Your Mrs must be proud. (Nice blog too by the way)

    It’s interesting that at even 5% BF, you still didn’t have a raging six pack. It can be quite maddening when you think about it. Just goes to show how different we all really are.

    I’m adopting the ESE fasting lifestyle myself and will be happy to stay within shooting distance whilst being able to enjoy my life to the fullest. Imagine a world without beer, pizza and cheese?

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  • Steve G. says:

    I’m glad to see that you focused on diet and exercise as a coordinated effort. It would also be beneficial to monitor RMR,BMI, and calories burned. Online calculators for these are available to make these calculations easy and are available at Typically, just enter age, weight, height and activities you have done during the day. The calculator’s will do the rest and tell you how many calories you use for the whole day and when at rest. This could help you to know how to adjust your diet to either gain weight or lose weight.

  • neil says:

    is it possible to get your body fat down to 7 % within a week

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