Your 6-Week Plan to a 6-Pack

Yes, you have abs — they just need to be uncovered. And the most effective way to torch fat above your belt is by building more total body muscle, which in turn will stoke your metabolism.

The compound exercises in this plan — squats and deadlifts — not only stimulate strength gains but also train your trunk muscles harder than many traditional core exercises do, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. As a result, you'll build a leaner, stronger midsection, all without doing a single ab exercise. Not ready to give up your crunches? Set a timer for 5 minutes after you've completed all the exercises in this plan, and then finish your workout with your favorite ab moves.

Your 6-Week Plan for a 6-Pack

Directions: Lift weights 3 days a week, alternating between the two routines described at left and resting at least a day between sessions. For example, if you do Workout A on Monday and Friday and Workout B on Wednesday of this week, then schedule Workout B for Monday and Friday and Workout A for Wednesday of next week.

Weeks 1 to 3

Start with 5 sets of 5 repetitions of the first exercise — either the chinup or front squat. Rest 2 minutes between sets. Then do the next three movements in your routine as a circuit, completing just 1 set for each exercise before progressing to the next move. Do 8 to 10 reps of each movement in the circuit, resting 60 seconds between sets. Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

Weeks 4 to 6

In each workout, perform 6 sets of 3 reps for the first exercise, resting 2 to 3 minutes between sets. Then do the next three exercises as a circuit, just as you did during Weeks 1 to 3 — except you'll be completing 10 to 12 reps of each exercise and resting 60 seconds between moves. Do a total of 4 rounds.

Accelerate for Abs

Run off extra pounds by following this interval-training plan twice a week. Run, rest, and repeat according to the schedule below, preferably on days when you don't lift weights. You can also cycle, run stairs, or use the cardio machine of your choice.

Week 1 Max-Effort Sprint Recovery Reps
Day 1 60 seconds 180 seconds 3
Day 2 60 seconds 120 seconds 4
Week 2


Day 1 60 seconds 180 seconds 4
Day 2 60 seconds 120 seconds 5
Week 3


Day 1 60 seconds 180 seconds 5
Day 2 60 seconds 120 seconds 6
Week 4


Day 1 60 seconds 60 seconds 5
Day 2 120 seconds 120 seconds 3
Week 5


Day 1 60 seconds 60seconds 6
Day 2 120 seconds 120 seconds 4
Week 6


Day 1 60 seconds 60 seconds 7
Day 2 120 seconds 120 seconds 5

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