Best Ab Workouts for Men: 11 Core Exercises to Get Six-Pack Abs
The secret to a perfectly carved out stellar set of abs or “six-pack abs” goes far beyond crunches and situps.
Not that they’re not effective. But you need more.
The chiseled hard ripped six-pack you’re after, like the 8 packs you often see on guys on the cover of Men’s Health and Fitness Magazine, requires a good diet and these 11 killer core and ab workouts.
While the diet part is to be covered in another post, we’ll tackle the best ab workouts in this post.
Table of Contents
What Are Your Abs?
Let’s take a look at your abs muscles. These are the main four core muscles you need for movement of your torso.
- Rectus Abdominis – this is your primary six-pack abs muscle. It is a long muscle that runs from your rib cage down to your pubic bone. This is where you want definition.
- External obliques – you have two external obliques. They run on either side of your RA muscle, from your 5th rib down to your 12th rib.
- Inner obliques – these muscles are under the external obliques. The muscle fibers run perpendicular to the fibers of the external obliques.
- Transverse Abdominis – this is the deepest muscle. These sheets of muscles run all along your abdominal wall.
So, What Is the Best Ab Workout?
To sculpt chiseled and award-winning washboard abs, you need moves that work far beyond your rectus abdominis.
You must train all adjacent muscles, including your internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis. You absolutely can’t shred your entire torso and create a v shape you see on Men’s Health covers without them.
But here are other moves you need in your six-pack abs workout.
You need compound moves that target muscles outside of your midsection, like the hips, glutes, and shoulders. They ensure to maximize your overall fat burn and strength building.
What’s more, if you have a desk job and a beer belly, you need moves that burn off the belly fat to see any results.
After all, you won’t have the whole look of the ripped six-packs with a layer of body fat covering your abdomen.
The absolute best way to do that is to do a workout like the one here that has both fat-burning anaerobic moves with muscle-building abs exercises.
Exercises in this men’s workout for abs incorporate all those moves. Together, they build your six-pack muscles and the rock hard torso that’s ready for shirt-less summer.
So if you’re ready for chiseled abs, here are 11 most effective ab exercises to strengthen and define abs and the core.
Once you are familiar with each move, pick 2-3 from the list below and put together your 10-minute ab challenge. Create several circuits out of them to alternate and add to your other resistance training and cardio routines. None of these require any more equipment than a Swiss ball, so you can do them at home.
Suggested reps and sets are noted at the end of exercise instructions.
- Get down into a push-up position with your legs extended back and your hands directly under your shoulders. Feet hip-width apart.
- Brace your abdominals and squeeze your glutes to stabilize your whole body. Bend your elbows and adjust to form a 90-degree angle with your forearms. Rest your weight on your forearms and lighten the load on your feet. Form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can. Aim for 30-60 seconds.
Tips: If you are just starting out, you may rest your forearms on a bench to perform this plan. It’ll ease the weight and make it slightly easier to perform. If you have back pain, planks are safer than crunches as they pose less risk of straining your back muscles.
2. Side Plank
- Lie on one side with your bottom elbow on the floor. Keep your legs straight and stack your feet. Place your top hand on your waist. In a count of three, engage your core and prop up your upper body on your bottom forearm.
- Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. Hold this position for as long as you can while breathing deeply. Feel the tension in your abdomen and glutes during the hold. Repeat on the opposite side.
Make it harder: If you want to make it harder to raise your top leg straight and hold it.
Make it easier: Keep your bottom knee down on the floor and perform this as a knee raise. Keeping your top arm straight in the air can help maintain your balance.
- Get down on your fours and balance your weight on your toes. Position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Avoid dropping or curving your lower back or craning your neck. Your fingers should be pointing forward, not to the side.
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your abdominals throughout the movements. In one motion, slowly lower yourself to the floor and pause for 1-2 seconds. Push yourself back up to the starting position. Keep your shoulder blades engaged and your arms close to your sides. Repeat 10-15 times.
4. Mountain Climber
- Start at the top of a pushup position with your spine straight, so your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Brace your abdominal muscles. Pick up your right foot and slowly bring it to your chest, then return quickly to the starting position. Switch your legs and continue alternating sides 30 seconds. While you go through the position, be sure to keep your posture and use your back heel as an anchor.
Tips: perform this on a fast tempo and with intensity to burn fat and calories. Mountain climbers also build endurance. To advance this move, place both hands on a medicine ball while you shuffle your feet.
5. Reverse Crunch
- Lie faceup on the floor with your palms facing down next to your sides. Bend your knees and keep your heels on the floor.
- Contract your abdominals and the core, and raise your hips off the floor. Crunch them inward. Pause and slowly lower your legs back down until your heels nearly touch the floor. Do 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
Tips: If you have access to a gym, you may perform two other ways: with a pullup bar and a delined bench. They both serve the same purposes but make this crunch exercise more challenging to perform.
6. Leg Drop
- Start with a leg raise. Lie flat on your back with your hands on the floor to support. Brace your core and use your lower abdominal muscles to lift your knees toward your ribcage.
- Keeping your lower back and tailbone pressed firmly to the floor, slowly lower your feet back to the starting position. As your feet lightly touch the floor, crunch up again to repeat. You should feel the tension in your thighs and quads in addition to your abdomen. Do 10-12 for 3 sets.
7. Hip Roll
- Lie flat on your back on a mat with your legs up, knees bent at a 90-degree angle directly over your hips. Extend your arms straight out.
- Brace your core as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. With control, twist your legs to one side as far as you comfortably can while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor.
- In one motion, using the strength of your core, pull your legs back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides, and do 10 rounds on each side for a total of 20 reps per set. Do 2-3 sets.
Tips: Think of this as a Russian twist with your lower body. By twisting from your lower abs, you get to target the muscles below your belly button and help create the cut on your waist.
8. Swiss-Ball Roll-Out
- Get down on your knees in front of a Swiss ball and into the forearm plank position with your with fists on the ball.
- Brace your core and slowly roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without compensating your back. Use your abs to pull the ball back to your knees. That’s one rep. Do 10-12 reps for 3 sets.
9. Swiss Ball Crunch
- Lie with your hips, lower back, and shoulders in contact with a Swiss ball. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your ears, and pull your elbows back so that they’re in line with your body.
- Using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and shoulders. In the same motion, crunch up your rib cage towards your pelvis. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Do 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
10. Swiss Ball Knee Tuck
- Get down on your fours with your feet placed on a Swiss ball and your hands on the floor.
- Brace your core and maintain your balance. Use your feet to roll the ball into your body. Stop when your knees reach your chest. Slowly roll the ball back to the starting position and repeat 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
Tips: If you have no prior experience with this move, start with a range you can handle without losing balance.
- Start by laying on your back. Hold a stability ball between your heels and glutes. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and arms straight at your side.
- Bracing your core and pressing your arms firmly to the ground, lift up through your hips to raise your glutes and the ball off the floor. Hold onto this position by squeezing your glutes and abdominals. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps for 3 sets.
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
The best exercise that burns the most belly fat is the one that gets your heart rate up and elevates your metabolism.
The mountain climber is one of those belly fat burning exercises. Not only that, but it also targets the entire abdominal region, and it aerobically trains them, which helps you burn calories.
Is It Ok to Work Abs Everyday?
Yes, but be careful. Treat your abs and core training like any other muscle group.
It means that you don’t need to work them every day. Also, it’s important to remember that you are indirectly engaging and working your abs even with your routine of non-abs exercises.
Take squat variations and deadlifts, for example. To stabilize your upper body, your core muscles, along with abdominals, get engaged to bring the support.
So you literally don’t have to work the abs every day or at your every training session.
Add some of the abs exercises from the list to your circuit and set a goal to perform 2-3 times a week to see results and achieve your six-pack abs.
There you have it! A list of 11 best man’s exercises to get ripped midsection. Remember, these will build muscle, but to see that muscle, you are also going to have to lower your body fat percentage.
For women’s specific routines, here are a couple of women’s workouts to get a flat, toned tummy.
Which exercises did you find most challenging? Leave a comment below to let me know.