Should skinny guys train abs

Should Skinny Guys Train Abs? And How To Reveal The Six-Pack!

Six-pack abs are one of the most coveted training achievements out there. But do you really need to train your abdominals to reveal their definition? This post explains whether skinny guys should train their abs.

Skinny people should train abs. Direct ab workouts are essential for balanced body development as well as developing a six-pack definition. Beginners can start by doing up to 5 sets of direct ab exercises in conjunction with regular compound lifting.

I experimented with this by including and excluding direct ab training in my workouts (see below for results).

Having done so, I personally recommend skinny guys to include direct abdominal exercises for the most balanced physique development.

Keep reading to find out why!

Before and after results: I used ab training to build six-pack abs as an ex-skinny guy.

Difference Between Skinny Guys Who Do Vs Don’t Train Abs

Let’s begin with a visual examination of the differences between skinny guys who do and don’t train abs.

Skinny guy with vs without ab workout before and after results.

Picture 1:

This was during a period when I didn’t dedicate any time to training my abs specifically. But my workout split revolved around the compound lifts which worked my core indirectly. You can see there’s little sign of a six-pack, but my abs are still slightly visible.

Picture 2:

This was during a period when I started including 2-3 sets of direct ab exercises like weighted crunches and sit-ups into my weekly workout. You can see I have visibly visible abs that resemble a faint six-pack! I feel the definition would have been even more pronounced if I’d included more sets.

Lesson learned for skinny guys wondering if they should train abs:

It’s not essential for skinny guys to train abs. But direct ab workouts can help you build a more visibly defined six-pack!

Why Skinny Guys Should Train Abs

6 PACK ABS For Beginners You Can Do Anywhere

Check out Chris Herria’s ab workout for skinny beginners (no equipment required!).

Your abdominals (“abs”) are just like any other muscles; the harder you work them the bigger and stronger they get.

This assumes you’re also eating a muscle-building diet of course.

Therefore skinny people looking to build a set of defined abdominal muscles should train their abs. And ab workouts do indeed work even if you are skinny.

There is, however, a caveat.

Ab workouts alone are usually insufficient for skinny guys to build a ripped physique.

Why skinny guys should train abs.

All the compound movements work the abs to some degree. These movements can also be done with heavy dumbbells like the PowerBlocks (more convenient than a barbell for home workouts)

The athletic-looking body you’re chasing- like Chris Herria’s above- comes from training the muscles full body through compound exercises (link for my favorite ones) such as:

  • Squat.
  • Deadlift.
  • Row.
  • Pull-up.
  • Bench press or push-up.
  • Shoulder press or handstand push-up.

These movements work for their respective primary muscle groups. But they also engage the core (abs) at the same time to provide stability and balance.

So if you’re following an effective workout program that’s based around the compound lifts, then you’re already training your abs on a weekly basis.

How to do the decline dumbbell weighted sit-up to train the abs at home as a skinny person.

Decline sit-ups to isolate the abdominal muscles (bench required).

All you have to do now is supplement the compound lifts with a few sets of ab-isolation lifts throughout the week (5 sets of direct ab movements per week are sufficient).

You can see the end of this article for my favorite skinny guy ab exercises.

Result for skinny guys?

You’ll build defined six-pack abs together with a strong-looking overall body with no muscle imbalances.

And this leads to that ripped athletic physique you’re after!

Do All Skinny Guys Have Abs?

Every person has abdominal (“ab”) muscles. But not everyone has visible abdominals. Skinny guys usually have visibly defined abs due to a low body fat percentage whilst overweight people usually have hidden abs.

All skinny people have abs.

All skinny guys have abdominal muscles but some are more visible than others!

Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you’re a skinny person or not; all human beings have abdominal muscles.

Your “abs” are actually a group of smaller muscles that comprise:

Abdominal MuscleLocation
Rectus abdominisMain “six pack muscle” running from the ribs-pelvis along the abdomen.
Internal obliquesEither side of the mid-region of the rectus abdominus (just above the navel).
External obliquesEither side of the lower region of the rectus abdominus (closest to the hips).
Transversus abdominisUnderneath the internal and external obliques (not visible).

The better question to ask is: “does everyone have visible abs?”

And the answer to that is a resounding…NO!

There are two essentials for visible abs:

  1. Low body fat to reveal abs. This is something most skinny guys already have naturally (great!). But a low body fat percentage alone won’t give you impressive abs.
  1. Musculature for pronounced abs. This is something most skinny guys do not have. Building your ab muscles can only come from training your abs (either directly or through compound lifting) and going on some sort of bulking diet.

If you only have #1 without #2:

You’ll have defined abs but still be stuck with a scrawny physique (not very impressive!).

However, if you have both #1 and #2:

You’ll have well-defined and thick-looking six-pack abs that give you a powerful-looking physique.

Lesson: abs alone won’t give you an impressive body as a skinny person! You can check out my other post for a complete full-body workout to go from skinny to muscular!

How Skinny Guys Get Six Pack Abs

Six-pack abs are gained through training and dieting. Skinny guys should do compound lifting supplemented with ab-isolation exercises like weighted sit-ups and crunches. A calorie surplus and at least 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight should also be consumed daily.

How to get six-pack abs for skinny guys.

The PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells can help you build a six-pack at home!

As previously mentioned, six-pack abs are built by increasing abdominal muscle size and maintaining a low body fat percentage.

The result is a lean and athletic-looking physique with defined abs.

As a skinny guy, you’ve already been blessed with a lean body.

So your goal is to gain ab muscle whilst maintaining a low body fat percentage.

In this way, your abs will start becoming pronounced.

Essentials Tips For Skinny Guy To Build Ripped Abs

The truth is that a skinny guy won’t get killer abs by doing 100 sit-ups a day.

Trust me I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work…in the slightest…

Here are the essential tips I used to build six-pack ab muscles as a skinny guy:

  • Focus on compound lifting. These are the best exercises for a skinny person to build overall muscle across the whole body, including the abs.
  • Supplement with ab-isolation exercises. Add a few sets of ab exercises like the weighted sit-up or crunch at the end of your workout to as “finishers” for your abs.
  • Go on a lean bulk. Bulking is essential for skinny guys to build muscle. But you don’t want excess fat to hide your abs. A lean bulk requires you to go on a mild 5-10% calorie surplus to build muscle with minimal fat gains.
  • Eat at least 1g of protein per lb of body weight. Protein is essential for skinny guys to build muscle. The recommended daily protein intake for muscular hypertrophy (growth) is ~1.6-2.2 g/kg/day, or approximately 1g per lb of bodyweight per day. So a 140lb skinny guy would need to eat at least 140g of protein daily.
  • Keep track of body fat percentage. Use a cheap skinfold caliper like this Lightstuff from Amazon to ensure you’re not gaining too much fat on a bulk.

For more tips on how to build muscle with minimal fat gains, you can check out my top tips for skinny guys to get ripped!

How Often Skinny People Should Work Abs

Skinny people should train abs 2-3 times per week. Beginners should aim for 3-5 weekly sets of direct isolation-type movements like the crunch. The abs should also receive indirect stimulation throughout the week from compound movements.

Compound vs isolation ab exercises for skinny beginners.

PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are great for compound and isolation training!

Generally speaking, the ideal training frequency for skinny guys lies somewhere around 3 times per week.

Let’s assume each training day is a full-body compound workout (recommended for skinny guys looking to get buff asap).

All of your compound movements, like the squat and bench press for example, actually work the core to some degree or another.

So you don’t actually need to do direct ab exercises if you don’t want to.

But if you’re a skinny guy looking to get shredded abs then it’s a good idea to also include some direct ab sets throughout the week.

Here’s how I would do it:

Direct ab training frequency:2-3 times per week.
Weekly number of direct sets for abs:5 total sets per week.
Reps per set:10-20 reps per set.
Weight:50% of 1-rep max
In conjunction with a full-body compound training split.

I recommend adding 5 additional direct ab exercises in conjunction with your regular weekly compound exercises (see end for my favorite ab exercises for skinny guys).

You can spread these sets over 2-3 days.

Small muscles like the abdominals respond better to higher reps using a lighter weight.

I recommend 10-20 reps per set using a weight that’s around 50% of your 1-rep max.

Additionally, I like to perform my ab exercises at the end of a workout.

In other words- use ab exercises as a finisher.

Timeframe For Skinny People To Get Six Pack Abs

Skinny people generally need up to a year to get six-pack abs. Individuals who have a low body fat percentage, follow an effective workout program, and remain disciplined in their dieting can usually get visible abdominals in a much shorter timeframe.

Here’s a rough timeframe for skinny guys to get visibly defined abs:

MonthsAb Visibility
3-6First signs of visible abdominal tone.
6-12Highly noticeable abdominal muscle definition.
12-24Ripped six-pack abdominals.

This is obviously an estimated timeframe for results.

As I mentioned above, various factors affect how fast a skinny guy can build six-pack abs:

  • Body fat percentage. The abs are one of the hardest muscles to reveal due to the layer of body fat covering them. The good news for skinny guys is we usually have a low body fat percentage. Skinny-fat guys have a higher percentage and usually find it tougher to build visible abs.
  • Workout program effectiveness. How intensely you work your abs determined how quickly they will start revealing themselves. I recommend compound lifting supplemented with direct ab-isolation exercise for the fastest results.
  • Diet discipline. They say abs are built in the kitchen. As a skinny guy, you should not exceed more than a 10% calorie surplus. This prevents excess fat storage. Additionally, make sure you’re eating at least 1g protein per lb of body weight. Go on a cut if needed to really reveal your abs after a bulk!
  • Genetics. Nothing you can do here I’m afraid! Some people are genetically blessed with a low body fat percentage and aesthetically pleasing abdominal shape. Others are not so lucky. But we can all work to reveal those ab muscles!

If you like, you can go to my other post to find out exactly how long it takes for skinny guys to build muscle!

Best Exercises For Skinny Guys To Train The Abs

Multiple muscles collectively form your “abs”.

Here are my favorite exercises to train the abs as a skinny guy:

Upper AbsLower AbsObliques
Decline dumbbell sit-upsLying dumbbell leg raiseDumbbell side bend
Dumbbell crunchCabel golf swingKettlebell Russian twist
Cable wood-chopperDumbbell Reverse crunchCable core rotation

All of these exercises are in line with this study which concluded that the best ab exercises are those that:

  • Bring your head towards the lower body.
  • Bring your legs towards the upper body.
  • Work the core region from a variety of angles.
How to workout the abs at home for skinny guys.

I use the PowerBlock dumbbells with Flybird bench!

The weighted decline sit-up is my personal favorite.

I credit this exercise the most for helping me build my six-pack abs.

This movement can single-handedly hit all of your ab muscles and allows you to load up on reps as well as weight.

However, you’ll need a declining bench like this Flybird (link for the cheapest price) and some sort of weight.

I prefer using dumbbells like the PowerBlock EXP (link for the cheapest price) for their pure versatility.

You can go to my other post for a complete home workout for skinny guys to gain muscle at home fast with/without equipment.

Equipment For Skinny Guys To Train Abs At Home

Here’s a recap of what I recommend.

This setup isn’t the most premium out there but it’s affordable, versatile, and great for working the abs (and full-body) at home.


I’ve explained why skinny guys should train their abs.

If you’re not fussed about building yourself a shredded abdominal region, then direct ab workouts are not actually necessary for skinny guys.

Your regular compound exercises are more than sufficient to build some tone and definition in your abs.

However, if you’re a skinny guy on a mission to get ripped six-pack abs, then I highly recommend you include direct ab exercises in your weekly workout program.

Doing so will increase muscle size in your core. And combined with low body fat, this can help reveal that coveted six-pack!

Will you be training abs?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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