Can You Get Visible Abs From Running On a Treadmill?

We know you can reduce the size of your belly by running on a treadmill (and changing your diet), but can running get you visible abs? Visible 6-pack abs are something that many want but few achieve. Can a treadmill alone get you there?

A treadmill can help you get visible abs. Running is good for burning calories and therefore lowering body fat percentage. However, you’ll still have to have a good diet and do separate ab exercises to grow the 6-pack muscles enough to make them easily visible.

There are some details which are important to know if you want to get a 6-pack. You can find those below as well as some tips on getting visible abs faster.

Can Running On a Treadmill Alone Get You Abs?

To get visible abs you need two things;

  • A low enough body fat percentage
  • Abdominal muscles that are big enough to pop out

Running is great at burning calories which helps you to lower body fat. Combined with a good diet and consistent workout schedule, you’ll get your body fat percentage low enough to actually get to the point where you can easily see a 6-pack.

Suggested: Can you lose belly fat with a treadmill?

To have visible abs, men need a body fat percentage +-15% or lower while women need to be under +-20%. Combining an improved diet with regular medium to high intensity treadmill is going to get you there.

Choosing the right speed, duration and incline on a treadmill can be confusing. If you want to lose body fat, I’ve written an in-depth article on how to optimize intensity and duration on a treadmill to lose weight.

But does running on a treadmill target the core enough to get your abs to grow big enough? While running, you tighten the core on every stride. The core keeps your body stable and braces the spine for the impact. This is usually not conscious and the contraction is not super strong but, since you tighten the core for every stride, you get a lot of repetitions. Over time this does strengthen and grow the core.

However, as a pure 6-pack growing exercise, running is not the most effective. Over time your core will get more muscle definition but for reasonably fast results, adding on extra ab exercises is necessary.

That said, if you keep running long and often enough and eat a proper diet, you will start seeing visible abs at some point when your body fat is low enough. However, if your ab muscles are under developed, you’ll need a lower body fat percentage which is more difficult to get. Also, if the muscles are underdeveloped, having them visible might not have the visual impact you would like.

So can running on a treadmill alone give you a 6-pack? Yes, but you probably shouldn’t rely on running solely if you want decently fast results and a good looking 6-pack.

Suggested: Is 45 minutes on a treadmill enough to get abs?

How To Target The Abs On a Treadmill

During normal running, you’ll have to tighten your core and this way you’ll train it over time. However, there are some ways that can increase the impact on your core while using a treadmill.

Incline sprints are the best way to hit your core hard on a treadmill. The incline means you have to lift your knees higher which activates the Rectus Abdominis. Sprinting means you have to move your whole body with as much force as you have. This really hits the core much harder than normal running.

Of course sprinting on an incline is tough. It’s best suited for HIIT workouts which are not for everyone. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness already to be able to do that properly. If you can’t do Incline sprints, just using the incline on a treadmill will help put more stress on the core. The higher the incline, the more focus on the core. Would 10 minutes be enough to see results? Find out here.

Suggested: 10 Treadmill With Incline Worth Buying

How To Get 6-Pack Abs Faster

Running on a treadmill could get you to visible abs but you can make it a lot faster by adding some other things to your routine.

As said above, you need to burn fat and grow the ab muscles to get visible abs. Running on a treadmill can help you burn calories and does have some ab training benefits, especially if you’re using the incline settings.

However, for most people, that’s not going to be enough to get visible abs, at least not very quickly or unless you’re already at a low bodyfat. There are two things you can do to speed getting abs up quite a bit:

  • Reduce calorie intake
  • Ab exercises

Reduced Calorie Intake

The way running reduces your body fat is by increasing the amount of calories you burn. If you burn more calories than you take in over the course of a day/week/month, you will lose weight. Now the next time you run, take a look at the calorie counter. While those aren’t super accurate, it does give an indication of the effort required to burn calories.

It’s a whole lot easier to not eat those calories in the first place so your running creates a larger deficit. Ideally you would eat whole foods to get those calories but a good place to start is to cut out; sugar, processed foods and alcohol or at least limit their intake. It’s a whole lot easier to eat 200 calories of chocolate than lettuce. Whole foods will make you feel more satiated and will make you feel better so you can work out harder.

To lose body fat, you want to eat at a 200-500 kcal deficit a day. Track your foods to make sure you are in a deficit.

Ab Exercises

The second part is that the ab muscles that create the 6-pack have to be big enough to actually see. Running (especially on an incline) does target the abs but you’ll need some extra help to get faster results. While running does engage the core to some degree, it’s not very effective for building up the muscle you want to see grow (the Rectus Abdominis).

Running doesn’t take the abs through a full range of motion which is what you want to get them to grow. The abs can handle a lot of volume so doing daily or almost daily ab exercises is fine. This doesn’t have to be a huge workout, just 5-10 minutes of exercises on the floor at home can help dramatically.

Suggested: How many sets a week for 6-pack abs?

So to get to your 6-pack, you’ll have to do some other exercises besides running that specifically target the Rectus Abdominis. The following movements are good to start off with;

  • Plank
  • Leg raises
  • Crunches
  • Ab roll out
  • Mountain Climber

Basically any movement that brings your chest to your legs or legs to your chest will train the visible abs. Pick 2 or 3 exercises from the list above and do 3 sets per exercise per day. That should dramatically increase the speed at which your abs develop.

Suggested: 5 Best Kettlebell Core Exercises


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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