Best Ab Workouts for Men: 11 Ab Exercises to Get Six-Pack Abs
The secret to a perfectly carved out stellar set of abs or “six-pack abs” goes far beyond situps, flutter kicks, and dead bugs. Not that they aren’t effective. But you need more.
The chiseled hard ripped six-pack you’re after, like the eight pack abs 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.
We cover the healthy diet part in another article on this web site. In this post, we’ll tackle the best ab workouts. The best part is that these effective ab exercises improve core strength, help with fat loss, and will give you that 6 pack look you are after.
Table of Contents
- What Are Your Abs?
- So, What Is the Best Ab Workout?
- Common Questions About Ab Workouts
- Final Word
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.
- Internal obliques – these muscles are under the external obliques. The muscle fibers of your inner obliques 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 the v shape you see on Men’s Health covers without them.
Here we cover the exercises you need in your six-pack abs workout, including compound moves that give you a strong core and target muscles outside of your midsection, like glutes, quads, and shoulders.
The best ab exercises maximize your overall fat burn and strength building by working your abs – and the rest of your body. What’s more, if you have a desk job and a beer belly, you need a workout that burns 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 have an ab routine 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 of this.
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 a chiseled core, 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 workout. Create several circuits out of them to alternate and add to your other resistance training and cardio routines.
None of these require a personal trainer and can be done at bodyweight, so they make great home workouts. However, we’ll throw in a few abdominal exercise variations in case you want to take this workout to the gym or add some strength training.
Suggested reps and sets are noted at the end of exercise instructions
Planks are the ultimate at-home ab workout, and are perfect for a beginner, they work your entire core, and they will help you get those visible abs.
Plank Step 1: Get down into a push-up position with your legs extended back and your hands directly under your shoulders, feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Brace your abdominals and squeeze your glutes to stabilize your entire body. Bend your elbows and adjust to form a 90-degree angle with your forearms, then rest your weight on your forearms and lighten the load on your feet.
Form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this plank position for as long as you can, keeping your navel drawn in towards your spine and your head in a neutral position. Aim for 30-60 seconds.
Make it easier: If you are just starting out, you may need a modification. If so, rest your forearms on a bench, rather than a mat, to perform your plank. It’ll make it slightly easier to perform. If you have back pain, elevated planks are safer as they pose less risk of straining your back muscles.
Make it harder: Want to make this core workout a bit harder? Rather than resting on your forearms, fully extend your arms, with your palms on the floor, and do a high plank. If your wrists hurt or you have pain from this position, go back to your forearms. You can also add a dumbbell or kettlebell row. From the high plank position, hold a dumbbell in each hand and row the weight to your ribcage.
2. Side Plank
The side plank is a great ab workout for building a stronger core and working your obliques.
Step 1: Lie on your side on your mat with your right 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 the forearm of your right arm.
Step 2: 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 stomach muscles and glutes during the hold. Repeat on the opposite side, raising onto your left arm. For best results, keep a straight leg and don’t let your back sag; stay in a straight line.
Make it easier: In this modification, keep your bottom knee down on the mat and perform this as a knee raise. Another way to make it easier is to lay on your side with your left elbow on the floor, but keep your right hand straight in the air. Then switch sides. Keeping your top arm straight in the air can help maintain your balance.
Make it harder: If you want to make it harder, lay on your left side and raise your right leg straight and hold it. Repeat on the right side, raising your left leg.
The push-up is a workout that has been used for fat loss and functional strength by generations of men; it is also one of the best ab exercises.
Step 1: Get down on all 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.
Step 2: 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 and upper back engaged and your arms close to your sides. Repeat 10-15 times.
Make it easier: If push-ups are hard on your wrists, start by elevating them on a bench. This is also a good modification to use until you build the strength to rep out multiple sets of push-ups.
4. Mountain Climber
This is an effective ab workout for 6 pack abs. Make sure to add them to your ab workout routine since they also work shoulders, triceps, glutes, quads, and calves.
Step 1: Start at the top of a pushup position with your spine straight, so your body forms a straight line from your head to heels.
Step 2: Brace your abdominal muscles. Pick up your right foot and slowly bring your right knee to your chest, then return quickly to the starting position. Switch and bring your left knee to your chest and continue alternating sides for 30 seconds. While you go through the movement, keep your posture strong, and use your back heel as an anchor.
Tips: perform this on a fast tempo and with intensity to build endurance, reduce fat, and burn calories. For visible abs, you need low body fat. A great ab circuit includes aerobic exercise, like mountain climbers with strength training, such as deadlifts or squats.
Make it harder: To advance this move, place both hands on an exercise ball while you shuffle your feet.
5. Reverse Crunch
Want a flat stomach? This abdominal exercise will do the trick. It will also work your hip flexors.
Step 1: Lie faceup on the floor or a yoga mat with your palms facing down next to your sides. Bend your knees and keep your heels on the floor.
Step 2: Contract your abdominals and core, and raise your hips off the floor, keeping your knees bent, so your shins face the ceiling. Pause and slowly lower your legs back down until your heels nearly touch the floor. Do 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
Make it harder: If you have access to a gym, you may perform two other ways. Use a pullup bar or a declined bench to make this abdominal exercise more challenging. Or try fastening a resistance band to the base of a pullup rig and loop it around your ankles. That will add stomach sculpting resistance throughout the movement.
6. Leg Drop
If you have a weak core, a leg drop will work your abdominal area and improve your core strength. The leg drop is a reverse leg lift, and both work your core and build muscle.
Step 1: Start with a leg raise. Lie flat on your back with your hands on the floor for support. Brace your core and use your lower abdominal muscles to lift your knees toward your ribcage
Step 2: Keeping your lower back and sit bones pressed firmly to the floor, slowly lower your feet back to the starting position. Go through the full range of motion. As your feet lightly touch the floor, repeat the leg raise. You should feel the tension in your thighs and quads in addition to your abdomen. Do 10-12 for 3 sets.
Make it easier: If you are having problems with this one, you can support your legs with a resistance band until you build up more ab strength.
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.
Step 1: Like in hollow holds, 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.
Step 2: 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 where you twist 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
Roll-Out Step 1 Get down on your knees in front of a Swiss or medicine ball and into the forearm plank position with your with fists on the ball.
Step 1: Get down on your knees in front of a Swiss or medicine ball and into the forearm plank position with your with fists on the ball.
Step 2: 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
Step 1: Lie with your hips, lower back, and shoulders in contact with a stability 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.
Step 2: Using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and shoulders. In the same motion, tuck 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
This workout builds your ab muscles and increases flexibility and mobility.
Step 1: Get down in the tabletop position with your feet placed on a Swiss ball and your hands on the floor.
Step 2: Brace your core and maintain your balance. Use your feet to roll the ball into your body and towards the front of your chest. Stop when your knees reach your chest. Slowly move 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.
11. Ball Reverse Oblique Crunch
Step 1: Start by lying 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.
Step 2: Bracing your core and pressing your arms firmly to the ground, lift 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.
Common Questions About Ab Workouts
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
How fast you can burn fat will have to with diet and genetics. But, picking the best exercises go a long way. The best exercise that burns the most belly fat is the one that gets your heart rate up and elevates your metabolism. No, that doesn’t mean hours on the treadmill. 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. Another option is High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. Combine burst of intense movements like situps, the bicycle crunch, or burpees with short periods of rest for 30 seconds for a powerful 10 min ab workout.
Is It Ok to Work Abs Everyday?
Yes, but be careful, don’t do the same exercise all the time. Treat your abs and core training like any other muscle group. Do you bench press every day? No. Change it up. And remember you still engage your abs with your non-abs exercises. Take squat variations or deadlifts, for example. To stabilize your upper body, you engage your core muscles to provide stability and support. So you don’t have to work your abs every day or at every training session.
Supplement some of the abs exercises from the list to your regular circuit and set a goal to perform them 2-3 times a week to see results and achieve your six-pack abs. If you are brand new to working out, seek medical advice on how often you can workout to start.
The Best Diet to Tone Abs
We’ve gone through some great ab training. But the only way to nail your fitness goals is to pair these core exercises with the right food. You need the right carbs to fuel your workouts. Complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, whole grains, and lentils and beans will give you the energy to work hard in the gym. These carbs will keep you going without adding weight to your midsection.
You also want healthy fats that provide nutrients and keep you satisfied. Choose olive and coconut oils and healthy fats from nuts and seeds for the best results. Be sure and get plenty of lean protein to build muscle. For a complete review of the right way to eat, see other articles on this web site.
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.
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Which exercises did you find most challenging? Leave a comment below to let me know.