Does running give you abs? It certainly sounds logical, but will consistent running or jogging reveal your abs?
In other words, can you only focus on running and gradually develop a set of impressive abs?
Let’s break this down.
The Truth About Your Abs And Running
Many people are under the impression that they don’t have abs. The truth is, even overweight people have abs – they are just not visible. Instead, the abdominal muscles are buried under a layer (or layers) of fat. So, achieving a six-pack is more about fat loss than building muscle. (1)
Running is a great cardio activity that offers many health benefits. For example:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved mood and mental health
Running is also a fantastic way to reduce your body fat. So, the logical question is, “Does running give you abs?” Let’s see.
Can You Get Abs by Running?
To answer this question, we first have to understand what it means to attain abs. The key to having your six-pack abs showing is to reduce your body fat percentage. In doing so, your abdominal muscles become visible. So, the saying that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, holds a great deal of truth.
Abs begin to appear at around 12-13 percent body fat and become prominent at roughly ten percent for men. For women, abs become visible at about 22 percent body fat and become prominent at around 20 percent. (2)
Doing cardio activities, such as running, is an important part of losing body fat. By doing cardio, you expend calories, which makes it easier to establish the calorie deficit you need to lose fat. This isn’t to say you can’t lose fat without cardio. It’s just more difficult because cardio allows you to eat slightly more food and still lose fat effectively.
Doing daily cardio is a great habit to lose fat in the long run. Even though running for 30 minutes might only burn 300 or 400 calories, doing this daily adds up.
If you do the math, burning an extra 300 calories a day equates to 31 pounds of fat over the course of a year.
The Math of Daily Cardio
- 300 calories per day x 365 days = 109,500 calories in a year
- 109,500 calories / 3,500 = 31.2 pounds of fat
NOTE: 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories
Building Your Abdominals
The other part of the equation is to develop your abdominal muscles. In doing so, you make them more prominent, and they begin to appear even at a higher body fat percentage. Just take a look at strongmen. Some of these fellas weigh over 250 pounds, and most have at least some visible abs.
Having an excellent ab routine can help with that. By training the abdominal area (and every other area of your body), you tone up and add shape to your body, which makes you look better as a whole.
Click to see the number of calories burned when running.
The Key to Reducing Body Fat Percentage
Over 70 percent of adults in western countries struggle with being overweight. These people have abs, but they can’t see them because these muscles are covered under a layer of fat. (3)
The key to reducing body fat percentage and revealing your abs mostly has to do with your nutrition. As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”
Controlling Your Calories
Controlling your calorie intake, consuming primarily whole foods, and eating plenty of protein are all essential. Occasional cheat meals are okay. After all, we’re human, and we need to enjoy our nutrition if we hope to stick with it. But be careful not to overdo it because a cheat day can turn into a week, month, and even a year. (4)
Frequent cardio, such as running, can also be beneficial. Cardio is nothing special and doesn’t melt fat on its own. But cardio is a tool we can use to burn extra calories, thus placing ourselves in a calorie deficit and forcing the body to burn fat for energy.
Click to see the many benefits of daily cardio.
- Read, T. (2021). Will low body fat automatically give me 6-pack abs? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-see-sculpted-abs-if-you-have-a-low-body-fat-percentage.
- Cooper, E. (2021). These pictures reveal how easy it is to see your ABS as your body fat percentage drops. Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a759234/what-body-fat-percentage-should-i-be-to-see-abs/.
- Adult obesity. Obesity Prevention Source. (2016). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-trends/obesity-rates-worldwide/.
- Cassetty, S. (2018). The do’s and don’ts of cheat meals, according to nutrition experts. NBCNews.com. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/do-s-don-ts-cheat-meals-according-nutrition-experts-ncna786516.