To build abdominal muscle on a bulk, perform compound lifts that indirectly work your abs. For more of an abdominal focus, include ab-specific exercises in your workout plan. Push your abs to the limit by using the training tenets of progressive overload to build abdominal muscle. However, keep in mind that while you bulk, you may put on body fat. Even if your abs become less visible during a bulk, they are still getting bigger and stronger beneath that layer of body fat. Once you cut, your abs will be more defined than ever before.
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How Do You Get Abs While Bulking?
The best time to build muscle mass is during a bulk. This applies to abs as well as other lean muscle mass. While you are consuming a calorie surplus, you will have more energy than during other dietary cycles. This means you’ll be able to work out more rigorously and build more muscle. The keys to training abs during a bulk are:
- Perform compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, etc.) during your bulk. These lifts recruit ab muscles along with other muscle groups.
- Add direct ab training to your workout 2–4 times per week.
- Perform intense ab workouts such as L pull-ups, hanging leg raises, planks, and ab wheel rollouts.
- Perform 10–15 reps of each ab workout for 3–5 sets.
- Increase the intensity of your workout as you progress. This is known as “progressive overload” and will push your abs to become larger and stronger.
- You can add intensity to ab workouts by increasing duration, finding more challenging exercises, or adding heavy weights to your existing ab workouts.
How do you increase the intensity of your ab workouts? First, increase the duration of stationary ab exercises, such as planks. Alternatively, you can graduate to a harder form of exercise such as performing standing ab rollouts instead of doing an ab rollout from your knees. Or, you can add weight to your ab workouts gradually. Try holding a dumbbell between your feet during hanging leg raises or L-pull-ups. Even standard pull-ups can work your abs. Pushing your abs beyond their current limits will trigger them to grow if you’re on a protein-rich bulking diet.
Can You Bulk Without Losing Your Six-Pack Abs?
You can absolutely build the strength and size of your abdominal muscles while bulking—in fact, the conditions are perfect for it—but you might not see the evidence of your ab progress during your bulk. A bulking diet puts you in a calorie surplus that drives muscle growth. However, these extra calories lead you to put on extra body fat. The longer your bulk goes on, the more body fat you’re likely to accrue. Because most people accumulate fat in the stomach region first, you may actually see less and less of your abs as you bulk. This doesn’t mean the muscles aren’t getting stronger, however. Stick with it and read on to find out how bulking can help you build a bulletproof six-pack.
- Although bulking is the perfect time to build ab muscles, it can be difficult to maintain a visible six-pack during a bulk.
- The excess calories consumed during a bulk are converted to fat, which may hide your abs during your bulking phase.
- It’s possible to bulk and maintain abs by following a “lean bulk” diet, but this is very challenging.
“Lean bulking” is the practice of eating a protein-rich diet to fuel muscle growth without putting on excess body fat. This may be the best way to bulk and maintain visible abs. However, dialing in a lean bulk diet is a bit like catching a unicorn. It’s tough to eat just the right amount of calories to drive muscle mass increases without consuming excess calories that are stored as fat.
How to Use a Bulk to Get Great Abs
We know that bulking is the best way to build your ab muscles, but the excess calories consumed during a bulk can hide your six-pack from the world. How do we fix this? The answer is to use the bulk to build those ab muscles, then enter a calorie-cutting phase to drop body fat and reveal your bigger, better-developed abs to the world.
- Work your abs to their limit with both compound lifts and ab-specific exercises during your bulk.
- Complete a 4–6 month bulk.
- After your bulk, transition to a cutting diet for 2–4 months.
- As you lose fat during your cutting phase, the abs you built while bulking will emerge.
Follow up a 4–6-month bulk with a 2–4 month cutting phase. You will drop fat while maintaining muscle by switching from a calorie surplus to a high-protein calorie deficit diet. Because your body breaks down fat for energy during a calorie deficit, switching from a calorie surplus to a calorie deficit will whittle away your body fat. If you’ve worked your abs to their limit throughout your bulk, those larger ab muscles will make their appearance as you drop body fat. Your resulting six-pack abs will be bulkier, bigger, and better-defined than ever before.
How Long Does it Take to Bulk Up Abs?
If you want bulkier abs, stick to a bulk diet and weight training plan for at least 16 weeks. This time is required for your body to pack on muscle mass. When you see your abs lose definition, it may be difficult to stick to the plan, but strive to maintain a healthy bulk that focuses on adding muscle with minimal fat gains.
- Commit to a 16-week bulking program to build bigger ab muscles.
- Make sure to pay close attention to your diet as you bulk—you want a calorie surplus to drive muscle growth but you should not be gaining large amounts of fat.
- Adjust your calorie intake so you have the energy for intense workouts but gain minimal fat.
Everyone’s body is a little bit different and dialing in a bulk takes some work. Commit yourself to the goals of eating enough food to perform intense workouts and fuel maximum muscle growth. This means coming to terms with the fact that you may experience some body fat gains. Work with a trainer or nutritionist to build a safe bulking diet that doesn’t contribute to unhealthy body fat gains.
Can All Bodies Get Abs?
It’s important to keep in mind that all bodies are different. We all have some body fat, and we all store it slightly differently. Two male athletes with 12% body fat can look radically different. One may have a six-pack because his body stores fat in his back and lower body. The other may not have visible abs because his body stores more fat in the abdominal region. Depending on your body type, your abs may not be visible until you get your body fat down to very low levels.
- Because some people store more of their body fat in their stomach than others. It may be more difficult for you to build six-pack abs.
- Some male athletes have visible abs at 12% body fat, while others do not have six-packs until their body fat percentage is in the single-digits.
- Prioritize health and safety over six-pack abs. A male should have at least 6% body fat and a female should have at least 10% body fat.
Maintain a goal of a healthy, fit physique. While your body may make it harder to get a six-pack, don’t despair. Working your abs while bulking will help build ab definition. If you are dead-set on having six-pack abs, be patient with your body. Work to find the calorie intake and exercise balance that is right for you. Always strive to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. Your long-term health is more important than visible abs.
Is it Possible to Bulk and Get Abs?
Building ab muscle during a bulk is possible because a bulking phase is the best time to build muscle mass for any muscle group. To build abs during a bulk, keep the following in mind:
- Work your abs with indirect compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts.
- Make room in your routine for ab-specific exercises.
- When performing ab exercises, increase the intensity and resistance of your workout to continually push your muscles to grow.
- Do not get concerned if your abs become less visible as you gain some body fat during a bulk.
- Follow up your bulk with a cutting phase to reveal your bigger, stronger abs.
- Keep in mind, your body type may make building six-pack abs more difficult for you than it is for others.
There is no question that you can use your bulk to build lean muscle mass throughout your body. However, you may lose some definition during a bulk. Stick with your bulking program and keep the faith that it’s helping you build powerful abs.