Six Pack Abs Training For Your BodyFat Percentage

Close up of muscular sports man after weights trainingNo matter where you are at right now in your fitness, the goal of getting six-pack abs is possible for you. No matter is you are currently sitting at 30-40% body fat or 15-20% body fat. It is possible.

As you will see in just a second, achieving six-pack abs takes hard work, focus, and dedication. However, it is not as complicated as you may think.

The key to each phase below can be summed up into three words:

  1. Consistency
  2. Implementation
  3. Sticktoitiveness

If you can do those three things, you will be well on your way to achieving the body you have always wanted. Let’s dive in:

Phase One: 30-40% Body Fat

If you are sitting in this range, know that your goal should NOT be on getting six-pack abs… At first. Rather it should be on getting healthy.

Sure, a longer term goal can be to see your abs. In fact, I challenge you to make that a goal. But first, let’s focus on these three aspects:

1. Nutrition must be 90-95% of your focus. 

Your goal here is to change your eating habits and make eating healthy are part of your life. No more fast food or large desserts or tons of cheat meals.

Cinnamon-Ground-Turkey-with-Cauliflower-Rice-on-Lettuce-Wraps-topped-with-Quick-Apple-Chutney-2-realhealthyrecipesYou need to make an effort to eat lots of healthy proteins, good fats, and vegetables. Those are your main food groups for right now.

  • Proteins: grass fed beef, wild fish, chicken, wild game, eggs, …
  • Healthy Fats: nuts, seeds, grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, …
  • Veggies: spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, …
  • WATER! No more sodas, sports drinks, milk, … Focus on water.

The majority of your meals should be focused around those foods above. If you can focus on eating those 90% of the time, you will naturally start burning fat.

2. Focus on high intensity interval bodyweight training.

In order for your body to see the best results from your workouts, you must focus on two different aspects:

  • conditioning
  • strength training

Now these can both be achieved at the same time through high intensity bodyweight only workouts. In the beginning, focus on doing just 8-12 minutes of work in interval fashion.

Once you feel comfortable and the initial soreness is gone, start extending your workouts to 20-25 minutes.

Keep in mind, your goal is to get stronger and in better cardio shape during your workouts so be sure you are constantly progressing.

3. Supplements.

You do not need supplements at this stage because you MUST first focus on your nutrition. Often times, taking supplements this early results in poorer food choices because you will start to think, “Oh it’s OK to eat that because I took my fat burner this morning.”

No, stay away from the supplements. Let your fat burning come from the foods you eat and the workouts you do.

Phase Two: 20-30% Body Fat

This is a very common spot for a lot of people. And like phase one, much of the steps are very much the same:

1. Your focus should still be on nutrition. 

Just like in phase one, nutrition still needs to be your focus. At this point, you are really trying to make your healthy nutrition choices automatic.

That means continuing to focus the majority of your meals on proteins, healthy fats, and veggies.

2. Bump the intensity on your bodyweight interval training. 

burn more fat before breakfastRemember, you should always be progressing forward. This means you should be making your workouts harder as you get to this phase.

This includes adding in harder exercises, longer intervals with shorter rest periods, doing more reps on each exercise than before, etc.

They key is continuing to get better and better so your body can continue to get stronger and burn more fat.

3. Supplements. 

Still not necessary, however, you can start incorporating some a few if you want. A good start would be to add in a whey protein supplement to your post workout meal.

The reason supplements should still stay out of this phase is because you want to make sure your nutrition is honed in. That’s still the most important part.

Phase Three: 15-20% Body Fat

This can be one of the most frustrating spots to be in. The problem is that you are right on the cuff of getting to the next level, yet so many times people go about it in the completely wrong way. That all changes today.

1. Start “cycling” your foods for faster fat loss.

The principles on what you will eat are the same as above, as they will be at all phases. The reason is that your body thrives on protein, healthy fats, and veggies.

Yet, now we are going to be adding in some macro-cycling to help manipulate your body to burn fat faster. Here’s what I mean:

For starters, after each workout start including at least 30-50 grams of carbohydrates. Then depending on how active you are, include carbohydrates in the morning at least 3 days per week.

That’s it. After workouts and in the morning 3 days per week. And when looking for the best carbs, here’s what to eat:

  • steel cut oats
  • white rice
  • black beans
  • potatoes/sweet potatoes
  • fruit

Stick with those 5 and you will be good to go.

2. Transition into strength and speed. 

muscular strengthBy this point, your training should be pretty on point. If this is the starting point for you, then start with 4 weeks of bodyweight workouts, then transition into weight training.

The two key training aspects here are:

Strength: This means you must focus on big compound movements that hit the entire body. Exercises including:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • presses (pushups, bench press, overhead press, …)
  • pulling exercises (pull-ups, bent over rows, single arm row, …)

Speed: In order to get your fastest fat burning results ever, you MUST incorporate some kind of sprinting. Preferably, outdoor straight up full speed sprints on a track or hill.

Sprints are the most powerful fat burning workout on the planet and they must be incorporated 2-4 times per week in order to get the best possible results.

Start with 6 full speed sprints at 30-60 yards each and then progress to longer sprints as the weeks go on.

3. Supplements should be used in this phase.

Supplements can be a great tool when you are using the right ones. At this point, they should add huge benefit to your fat burning as you continue to focus on eating the right foods and doing the proper workouts.

Here are some recommendations:

Stick with those to start.

And remember, do NOT use supplements in place of your food. Nutrition is always your number ONE focus!

Phase Four: 10-15% Body Fat

This is where your abs start to become visible for most people. In certain lighting you can start to see the outline of your abs and let me just say that is a very exciting milestone. So let’s keep pushing forward so those abs can shine in any light.

1. Macros MUST be cycled.

get lean cycleIf you are not cycling your macronutrients, you are going to have a very hard time dropping below 10% body fat. Your “cycle game” must be on point in order to see your abs.

The best part about this phase is that it can take as little as 4-weeks for your abs to start showing through if you cycle properly.

So what do I mean? I mean that you need to cycle low carb days and high carb days. For example, a sample week would look like this:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Low carb. The only carbs you eat come from vegetables. All meals are focused on high protein (chicken, grass fed beef, whole eggs), healthy fats (grass fed butter, coconut oil, nuts, seeds), and veggies.

Wednesday: High carb, high protein, low fat. Meals are focused on protein (chicken, egg whites, fish) and carbs (oats, rice, potatoes.)

Thursday, Friday: Low carb. The only carbs you eat come from vegetables. All meals are focused on high protein (chicken, grass fed beef, whole eggs), healthy fats (grass fed butter, coconut oil, nuts, seeds), and veggies.

Saturday: High carb, high protein, low fat. Meals are focused on protein (chicken, egg whites, fish) and carbs (oats, rice, potatoes.)

Then rinse and repeat.

That’s just one example of a carb cycle. Click here for my most rapid fat loss carb cycling program.

Same program Dave used => Dave-transform-300x208

2. Training for strength, speed, power, and PROGRESSION!

Like your nutrition, training has to really be dialed in at this stage. This means focusing on four aspects:

  • strength
  • speed
  • power
  • progression

web07The last part of that is the most important… Progression.

This means getting stronger, faster, and better each and every workout that you perform.

Think about it this way… When an athlete trains, they are alway looking to improve. They know that the stronger, faster, and more powerful they can get… the better athlete they will be.

The same holds true for you… The stronger, faster, and more powerful you become… The BETTER you will look.

It’s that simple. Continue focusing on big compound movements and make sure you sprint at least 2-4 times per week.

3. Supplements are needed!

Again, make sure nutrition comes first, however, you want to allow the supplements you take to help speed up recovery and boost your fat burning.

They are simply an ADD ON to everything else you do. Again, here are my recommendations:

Phase Five: Sub 10% Body Fat

perfect fat burning workoutThis is where things get really fun. At this point, your abs are visible and now it’s time to take them to the next level. As always, nutrition is your number one focus as this is what allows your body to continue to see great results.

The nutrition concepts stay the same at this phase as they did on the previous. Yet, each person is different so this is where a little testing comes in.

1. Test your bodies response to nutrition cycles. 

What do I mean by this? Well, you still have to make sure you are carb cycling during this phase, however, what you need to know is that your body is going to respond differently than my body.

For example, my best results come when I follow a 3 low-1 high, 2 low-1 high carb cycle approach. Others may see better results doing a 2 low-1 high, 1 low-1 high approach.

It really just depends on the person, your age, metabolism, body type, etc.

So that is what I mean when I say you need to TEST your own bodies response. Test out different amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to see what your body responds to best.

Once you find that sweet spot, your fat burning will become effortless allowing you to lose up to .5-2% body fat per month even with your body fat already being low.

2. Progress. Get “beast-mode” status.

muscular strength Like your nutrition, your workouts also have to get taken to a whole new level. Like before, your goal is to continue progressing by getting stronger, faster, and better with each workout.

Set goals and break them, then go and set some more and break those. You must be focused on working out at least 5 days per week here and making sure you are sprinting at least 3 of those days after weight training sessions. A sample plan would be:

Monday-Friday: 30 minutes of weight training.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 15 minutes of sprint training.

Don’t allow your workouts to go past the 45-minute mark. Keep them focused, intense, and performance based.

Also be sure you give yourself at least one full day off to rest and recover. Recovery is key when trying to get lean and ripped.

3. Supplements continue…

Like our previous stage, supplements will be of huge help here to keep your body burning fat at the rate you want. My recommendations are the same as the previous stage:

The Key To This All…

Listen, the key to each of the phases is the same:

You must be willing to work hard, stay consistent, and push through no matter what. Do that and results will follow.

A few takeaways:

1. Nutrition is always number one.

It starts with getting into the flow of eating right the majority of the time and transitions into more focused fat burning plans as you progress forward. Focus on nutrition and results will come.

2. Your training is always athletic based and focused on progression.

Notice how every phase challenges you to get better and progress forward. You must be willing to put in the hard work if you ever want to achieve six-packs abs.

Keep your workouts focused, intense, and results driven.

3. Supplements are optional.

Supplements should be seen as ADD ONS to the program. Yes they can help, however, they are not needed if your nutrition is good.

There you have it, a simple outline for you on how to achieve six-pack abs no matter where your starting point. Now what questions do you have?


  1. Rob

    Hi Dennis,

    Could you clear up the confusion of creating a calorie deficit. One person I know says to take a BMR calculation with the weight you want to be using the sedentary selection to establish you minimum calorie intake then take another BMR calculation with your current weight but instead of the sedentary selection choose the moderate exercise selection and the deficit is between the high and low BMR calculations. I have also read that if you stay between 12-16 calories per pound of body weight then you are in deficit mode already, however if I calculate out by using this method my calorie intake is over 400 calories more than what using the BMR equation is estimating for both the high and low.

    Also for weight loss out of those calories indicated by BMR what do you feel are the right percentages for how much protein/carbs/fat this should break down to when cycling as you described in your article. . From what I’ve read, 40/30/30 seems to be more of a maintaiince guideline than a fat loss guideline.

    Thank you for your time,


    • Dennis Heenan

      Hey Rob, thanks for the comment. To be honest, I find all the BMR stuff to be a joke. If you are eating the right foods and doing the right workouts, your body will naturally burn fat.

      Its more important to cycle your nutrients properly than worry about calorie count. Unless you are working on becoming a bodybuilder or physique model, that’s really the only time counting comes into play.

      For weight loss, focus on high protein, high healthy fats, and veggies. Then cycle in your carbohydrates.

      Hope that helps,


  2. Great article, Dennis! I have two questions: 1. I have read that women should not go below 10% body fat. What are your thoughts on this? 2. I’ve been taking Creatine every day. Should I switch to BCAAs instead? Thanks for everything!

    • Dennis Heenan

      Hey Lisa, correct women should NOT drop below 12% body fat. I need to make that clear in the article. Creatine is fine as well. That will definitely help with recovery. I usually cycle with creatine but will always take BCAA’s.

      Thanks for the comment!


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