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How to get a six-pack!

The six-pack is considered the epitome of physical fitness and is at the top of both men's and women's wish lists. But how do you get a six-pack and can any stomach be transformed into a washboard? You can find the answers in our blog post.

Table of contents:

  1. How do you get a six-pack?
  2. Six pack in women?
  3. The path to a six-pack: isolated abdominal exercises or full-body training?
  4. Which exercises train the abdominal muscles most effectively?

How do you get a six-pack?

First, let's take a brief detour into the anatomy of our body centre. The abdominal muscles comprise three groups of muscles: deep, oblique (or lateral) and straight muscles. The typical six-pack results from training the straight abdominal muscles (musculus rectus abdominis) so that they enlarge and bulge outwards. The straight muscles are interrupted by horizontal intermediate tendons (intersectiones tendineae), resulting in the individual "packs" (medical term: muscle bellies). A six-pack therefore does not consist of six individual muscles, but is made up of the straight abdominal muscles, which are cut into by tendons. How many such packs appear depends on our genetics. So not everyone can get a typical six-pack


Even the most well-trained muscles are useless if they are hidden under a layer of fat. A six-pack only appears when the body fat percentage is low. For women, a body fat percentage of less than 15 % and for men less than 10 % is a rough guide. Of course, this always depends on the individual fat distribution. The decisive factor for a washboard is therefore nutrition. It's not for nothing that they say "a six-pack is created in the kitchen". You can find out how to get rid of your belly fat here.

Six pack for women

As the percentage of body fat is generally higher in women than in men, girls have to work harder to get their muscles back. Due to the low body fat percentage, a six-pack is often considered controversial in women. For comparison: a body fat percentage of around 20-30 % is considered "normal". However, as an excessively low body fat percentage is often associated with health problems (e.g. menstrual disorders), it is not always advisable to strive for this ideal of beauty. However, a muscular six-pack is often not the goal at all (unless you are training for a competition). Most women are already satisfied with a toned and firm centre of the body.

The path to a six-pack: isolated abdominal exercises or full-body training?

Many full-body exercises such as squats or deadlifts also work the centre of the body. But is that enough to get a six-pack? In general, full-body exercises are useful as they train the large muscle groups and therefore increase the basal metabolic rate. They are therefore essential on the way to a six-pack. However, targeted abdominal muscle exercises should also be included. A study used electromyography (EMG) to compare the strain on muscle groups caused by different exercises. The result: Sit-ups, planks, side planks and jackknives challenge the abdominal muscles significantly more than back squats. The difference was clearest for sit-ups (straight leg sit-ups were analysed). They are more than three times as effective when it comes to training the rectus abdominis.

Which exercises train the abdominal muscles most effectively

Sit-ups are considered the epitome of abdominal exercises and are the classic when it comes to a toned core. In recent years, however, they have fallen into disrepute. If they are not performed correctly, they can cause neck and back problems. Beginners in particular should therefore not overdo sit-ups and support the neck muscles with their hands. Abdominal exercises that are easier on the neck include leg lifts and planks. However, study results have shown that the classic plank does not challenge the abdominal muscles very much. Variations of the plank, such as the long-lever posterior-tilt plank (where the elbows are not under the shoulders but in front of them) are - according to study results - significantly more effective. Your goal should therefore not be to hold the plank for as long as possible, but to keep incorporating other variations into your training. The lateral abdominal muscles also need to be trained. Exercises such as the Russian twist, lateral or bicycle crunches are suitable for this.

Important: Set yourself goals and challenge your abdominal muscles, e.g. with additional weights, more repetitions or variations of your routine exercises. Only by increasing the training stimulus will your muscles grow continuously. Therefore, try to change your workout routine every four to six weeks. Also remember that you are working the opposing abdominal muscles and include exercises for the back, core and gluteal muscles. Cardio units should also be included in your workout. Ideally in the form of interval training. This burns a lot of calories and helps to reduce the amount of fat in the body. With all this training, however, regeneration and relaxation should not be neglected. If you put your body under too much stress, this increases the release of cortisol. This inhibits your muscle development and promotes the development of fat pads on your stomach. You can read more about this here.


In order to get a six-pack, you should not do without isolated abdominal muscle exercises. Classics such as sit-ups and variations of the plank work your abdominal muscles most efficiently. Also always remember: the most important factor for a visible six-pack is the right diet.