October 01, 2021
A common goal in the fitness community is to achieve the elusive 6-pack but recently we’ve been asked how to get 10 pack abs. The answer to this question is simple, be born with it or look towards a surgical solution (which we never recommend). No matter whether you were born with a 4 pack, 6 pack, 8 pack or 10 pack you’ll still have to put in the hard work and discipline if you want those abs to show and impress. Genetics determine how many “packs” of abs we can get but it’s up to you to get them popping! In this post we will cover the abs and the differences between a 10 pack and a 6 pack. We’ll also give you 10 of the best exercises you can do to get ripped, well defined abs.
The abdomen contains 4 major muscles. The transverse abdominis, a portion of the abdominal wall that wraps around the trunk, the obliques, on the sides of the abdomen and the rectus abdominis in the center, the most notable and the one that is capable of showing a 10 pack. A common function that these muscles share is assistance with bodily functions such as defaction, urination and forced breathing.
Yes, it is entirely possible to have 10 visible ab muscles or a 10 pack but not everyone can have a 10 pack naturally. The number of possible abs you can have is dependent on your genetics. With that said it’s possible to have anywhere from a 2 pack to a 12 pack. However, you will have to stick to a strict diet and exercise program if you have any hope of seeing your “pack” in the mirror.
This study was conducted to determine the variations of the tendinous intersections of the rectus abdominis in regards to the common patterns and locations to help guide surgical procedures. The number of these tendinous intersections directly correlates to your “pack” of abs. The study was conducted using cadavers, the percentage of different types of abs were as follows:
Note: No cadavers in the studies had a 12 pack but it has been reported that in some autopsies 12 packs were present.
Let’s look at some examples of each of possible types of rectus abdominis muscles are organized:
Note: Keep in mind that not all abs are symmetrical and can look staggered or uneven.
What Causes Uneven Ab Muscles?
Uneven abs, staggered abs, or asymmetrical abs can generally be caused by three reasons; genetics, muscle imbalances from over/under training, and muscle dysfunction. The first cause, genetics is by far the most common cause of having uneven abs, and even if someone has uneven abs most people will never know as you'll need low body fat to recognize uneven abs.
Most of our body parts are asymmetrical with subtle differences in shoulder heights, joint placements, arm lengths and more so uneven abs are usually just an aesthetic concern as they are often determined by genetics and not a medical condition. However, if you do have uneven abs from muscle dysfunction it can be an indication of scoliosis. The improper alignment of the spine can contribute to the transverse abdominis looking asymmetrical.
Is It Possible To "Fix" Uneven Abs?
Because uneven abs are most frequently the result of genetics there's no real way of fixing uneven abs although you might be able to balance them out with slight improvements by targeting specific areas of the core. To do this you can focus on more rotational/ anti-rotational exercises to build up one side or another.
A 12 pack is the biggest pack. Believe it or not there have been some recorded occurrences of people with 12 pack ab muscles during autopsies. Relatively speaking, the chances of having a 12 pack is very small if you take the overall percentage of people that have other type of abs. This coupled with the fact that most people don’t have low enough body fat percentage to ever see whether or not they had 12 pack means you'll probably never see this in person.
To figure out how many abs you have you can complete the following self-test. You need to have a low enough body fat percentage to be able to perform this self-assessment. To do this test you should be sub 20% body fat so that you can actually locate and feel the tendinous intersections between your abs.
Now let’s see if you’re one of the lucky few who have the genetics for an 8 pack or even a 10 pack of abs.
10 Pack Ab Test
Note: Just keep in mind that even if there’s no exact data about how many people can have a 10 pack, it’s most likely much less than a fraction of 1% of people.
Whether you’re a girl or boy you can only get 10 pack abs if you’re born with them. Your genetics will predetermine how many abdominals or packs you can develop naturally. As mentioned above the number of packs you naturally can have is based on how many tendinous intersections you have. While the linea alba divides the rectus abdominis in two halves, the horizontal tendinous intersections determine how many packs you’ll have. If you have 3 horizontal bands stacked on top of each other then you’ll have a 6-pack. If you have 4 bands, you’ll have an 8-pack. You might be lucky enough to have 5 of these bands to be able to get a 10 pack of abs but it’s statistically probably not happening. The best-case scenario for achieving 10 pack abs is to create the illusion of having them, otherwise you’re relegated to invasive surgery.
People these days are having cosmetic surgery done to create this 10-pack ab look. They do this by implanting fake ab muscles that are sculpted to appear like natural abs. These inserts are usually made of a semi-solid silicone elastomer. Another medical procedure with the goal of getting abs is liposuction or abdominal etching to remove the visceral fat that sits over the rectus abdominis.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t willing to put in the hard work and dedication to get the abs they desire. Barring medical conditions, we all have the capability of achieving well defined abs but it’s not easy!
Yes, women can get as many “packs” as men. The number of abs you can get is based on how many connective tissue bands you have that cross your rectus abdominis. Women are no different from men in this aspect and will average the same amount of abs regardless of the sex. It will be a little more difficult for women to get the chiseled abs due to hormonal and body composition differences.
Strengthening your abs will result in a number of benefits apart from looking great. Here are some of the benefits that come with building strong abs.
Stronger Core: By working your abs you will strengthen your core. Most actions you make throughout the day involve core activation in some regards. The core is engaged in bending, twisting, walking, running or just standing/sitting up and plenty of other daily movements.
Improved Athletic Performance: Playing most sports means you’ll be required to change directions, swing an arm, kick a leg, jump up, or catch something. All of these movements will engage the core muscles. By working on your abs and core muscles you can enhance your ability to transfer energy from your core to your limbs. A strong core also provides much needed stability and balance that are essential in sports and everyday life.
Look Better: Well defined abs whether a 4 pack, 6 pack or 10 pack of abs looks great. We’ve yet to meet someone with abs embarrassed to take off their shirt. If anything, abs can boost your confidence to levels you’ve never experienced. When you achieve the ripper abs look it is a symbol of your work ethic and discipline.
Support Better Posture: Your abs help to keep your body upright and can help to straighten up your posture. These days people sit at their desks too much and end up with a hunched over posture. Strong core muscles can support your lumbar spine enabling you to stand taller and reduce your chances of herniating a disc.
Reduce Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain is a problem plaguing much of society at one point or another. One cause of this major issue if weak ab muscles. By exercising your abs you will make your core more mobile and flexible which can help to lower your chances of experiencing back pain. You can take some of the burden off of your lower back by strengthening your abs.
Slimmer Waist: Generally speaking, if you have lower body fat and exercise frequently you will live a longer fuller life. This study tracked 100,000 people over the course of nine years and found that people with larger waists had double the risk of dying from any cause during that time frame.
Help Lift Heavier Weight: Ab exercises and workouts can lead to a stronger more mobile core which in turn can enable you to lift heavier weights. Your core provides strong foundation for certain exercises like overhead press, squats and deadlifts. By building up your abdominal strength you can reduce the chances of injuring your spine.
Improve Breathing: Your ab muscles work in unison with the intercostal muscles and diaphragm. When you work on strengthening these breathing muscles, you’ll also be working the abs. The abs also help to keep the tension of the abdominal wall so that the internal organs are situated in the proper alignment which helps to breathe easier.
Do Ab & Core Exercises: The abs are just like any other muscle in your body in that you need to actively use them if you want to make them stronger. The beauty of abs is that you can work them more frequently than most muscle groups. You can even do ab exercises daily if you’re up to it. If you want to build your abs thicker then you should follow the same principles of progressive overload by increasing the total volume either through more sets and reps or adding resistance.
Perform Compound Lifts: you’ll speak with some trainers and fitness experts that will tell you that if you perform big compound lifts regularly enough then you won’t have to work on your abs. This is partly true. The big compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats and overhead press will engage your core muscles including your abs. Doing compound lifts will strengthen your abs, there’s no doubt about that. We do however recommend that people incorporate some ab and core exercises into their workout programs to make sure that they move through all planes of motion especially the transverse plane. It’s similar to working your other muscles, you should train with variety. You could focus only on bench press for chest development but it’s important to add a variety of exercises to build well-rounded pecs.
Eat More Protein: Protein will help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. You also need adequate protein intake if you plan on building muscle. To build muscle you should aim for .8-1 gram or protein per pound of bodyweight. To help meet this target you can try to supplement with whey protein or plant-based protein.
Proper Diet: This might be one of the most important aspects to focus on if you have any hopes of seeing if you have a 10 pack or 6 pack hiding underneath your belly fat. You should determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to know how many calories you should consume daily to help lose fat. You might want to try dropping your total calorie intake by 200-500 per day to get to a caloric deficit which will help shed some fat.
A few nutrition tricks to help get you to a lower body fat percentage is to follow a cutting program or try intermittent fasting. It’s also usually easier to get shredded abs by eating less carbohydrates. At the end of the day, you will have to have a low body fat percentage to see your abs. For men, body fat should be sub 13% while females should be under 20%.
Do Cardio: To aid you in uncovering that possible 10 pack or 8 pack of abs you should start to do cardio if you don’t already. HIIT workouts are great to help lose fat fast. By doing intense cardio you will boost your metabolism and burn more calories faster.
Build Up Your Apollo’s Belt: Also known as the Adonis belt or iliac furrow, these V shaped grooves run from the hip bone to the pubis. Building this this will help to enhance whatever abs you’re showing. It will help to make it look like you have lower abs. Exercises like windshield wipers, reverse crunches, and planks can help to bolster this area.
Lose Fat: This is the number one thing you have to do if you stand any chance in seeing those abs pop out. Regardless of how many ab exercises you do all your hard work won’t be realized until you lose the layer of fat that is covering them up. Briefly touched on above, men would have to have lower than 13% bodyfat and women under 20%. These percentages are rough guidelines as different people have varying body compositions which can result in abs being visible with more or less fat percentages than the average.
Work On Lower Abs: The lower abs are often the hardest to develop and showcase as this is the region where most people hold the majority of their stomach’s visceral fat. If you’re able to build up this region of the abs then it will give you a better overall ripped look.
Now that you know that you’re stuck with as many abs as you’re born with, we wanted to give you 10 of the best ab exercises to build those packs. Don’t fret if you can’t build a 10 pack of abs, these exercises will assist you in building up the abs you have.
These exercises will primarily focus on the rectus abdominis but we added a few transverse abdominis and oblique exercises in as well to make sure you have an even balanced approach to build up all your ab muscles.
This version of a crunch is awesome to work all the abs, especially the rectus abdominis. The bicycle crunch can torch your core while also burning calories as you’ll be moving your limbs throughout the movement. This study found that bicycle crunches activated the rectus abdominis better than 12 other common ab exercise methods. One of the best parts of this exercise is that you can do it while lying down unlike riding a bike where the seat can get uncomfortable after a while.
Note: Don’t let your feet hit the ground until you've finished your desired reps.
This crunch variation is fantastic to hit the rectus abdominis. These crunches are more difficult than standard crunches. Having your legs up in the air reduces the contact points between your body and the ground which lessens stability. Due to this less stable position your core muscles will be activated more.
Note: Focus on lifting your chest upwards rather than just rounding at the shoulders.
The humble plank exercise comes in all types of variations which makes it a versatile bodyweight exercise that works the core. Planks target multiple muscles in the body and help us to work on our breathing. Your entire core will be challenged with planks which will help you to build up that 6 pack or 10 pack you’re sporting. Beginners can start with the forearm plank while intermediate or advanced people might want to try more dynamic versions where you’ll be lifting your arms or legs off the ground.
Note: Focus on keeping your core engaged the entire time so that your hips don’t sag.
Some of the top athletes in the world swear by this ab exercise. The hollow body hold isn’t an easy exercise, it requires you to hold both your feet and arms off the ground which creates a lot of tension on the abdominal muscles. This is a fantastic isometric exercise to work the core without placing stress on the joints. Not only will this work the rectus abdominis but will also hit the transverse abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, quads and erector spinae muscles. The hollow body hold is a great core exercise to strengthen and stabilize the lower back as well.
Note: You should look like a banana in the final position, don’t tuck your chin and make sure that your shoulders come off the ground.
You can perform this ab exercise with a barbell or an ab roller. Using either piece of equipment will work your abs in the same way. Rollouts are an anti-extension exercise to target the abs which is unlike many ab exercises that rely of spinal flexion. This is a great ab exercise to work the entire core while improving your stability. Those of you looking to do ab exercises at home might be better off with an ab roller because it will take up less space and is cheaper.
Note: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement without letting your hips sag or your back arch.
This version of the crunch will really get those abs burning. With the decline bench crunch you will have to fight against gravity to crunch your body upwards which puts more tension and stress on the abs leading to the potential of stimulating more muscle growth.
Note: Don’t use your hands to pull up on your neck, focus on contracting your abs to move your body up.
The decline the reverse crunch works your rectus abdominis through a wide range of motion which can really help get a full contraction. This exercise will work your core, hip flexors and even legs. If you really want to make this one burn, trying counting down from 10 while you lower your legs to starting position.
Note: The easier version of this can be done on a flat surface by following the same cues from above.
This is one of the more difficult ab exercises that you can do but you know what they say the harder it is, the bigger the reward. If you try to do hanging leg raises you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. This exercise is demanding on both your core and grip strength. You’ll be lifting the entire weight of your legs against gravity. You will be working the abs, hip flexors while the TFL, rectus femoris, pectineus and adductor longus assist with the movement. This is a more advanced exercise that takes serious grip strength and core strength to pull off.
Note: Keep your shoulders down and back throughout this movement and avoid swinging your legs upward. If needed pause at the bottom to break the momentum before lifting your legs again.
Related: How to Master the Hanging Leg Raise
Using a Captain’s Chair for ab exercises is amazing for targeting the core. You can focus on the exercise at hand instead of holding a pull up bar. You can perform this exercise in a slow controlled motion to get those abs working hard. Make sure that your feet are pointed upwards slightly to hold the dumbbell in place as you raise your knees.
Note: To make this easier you can do without any weight or resistance. Hold at the top to get an extra isometric contraction.
Related: Best Captain's Chair Exercises
The cable crunch enables you to build some thickness in the abs due to the resistance you can add. This is a great exercise to work the rectus abdominis due to the amount of spinal flexion that is involved. Many people do this exercise improperly so make sure to pay attention to the cues below in order to get the most from this exercise.
Note: Making sure you’re crunching down using only the strength from your abs not your lower back and arms.
Related: Best Cable Abdominal Exercises
This ab workout will primarily target the rectus abdominis to help you build up your abs. These ab exercises will work if you have a 4 pack the same way they will work for someone who might be blessed with a 10 pack of abs.
You should follow this workout in circuit style by going through each exercise in order. One round is completed after you've done all exercises for the number of reps listed. Then you will take a 1-2 minute break between rounds. Complete 3 rounds total.
The main man in the cover photo and below this paragraph sports the most famous 10 pack in the world. Mohamed Ali a.k.a Mr. 10 Pack is an IFBB Men's Physique Natural Athlete. You chouls check out his Instagram for some tips and tricks of building your abs, you won't be disappointed.
Getting abs is hard, getting a 10 pack is almost impossible.Don't get caught up on how many abs you have. Focus on doing the right things to getting those abs showing. You'll have to train hard and eat right. Last thing, just remember one thing to not get discouraged, most people aren't walking around with ripped abs 365 days a year.
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