The Best ab workouts for men

Best Ab Workouts for Men: 17 Ab Exercises for Six-Pack Abs

The absolute best ab workouts for men to get ripped six-pack abs.

Let’s face it.

A six-pack abs workout has been the holy grail of fitness for men.

Carving washboard abs is the sole exemplifier of men’s physique.

But the recipe for stellar abs is neither simplistic nor straightforward.

The secret to ripped abs goes far beyond traditional crunches and sit-ups.

Not that they aren’t effective. They are!

But the best ab workouts for men are the ones that target and strengthen your core.

I’m talking about burpees, squats, lunges, and mountain climbers. These core strengthening exercises are exactly what’s missing in your ab workouts routine.

I should also point out that the best ab workouts won’t give you the six-pack abs if belly fat is covering your abs.

With excess fat to lose, you need to pair these ab workouts with a belly fat diet to help lean out faster.

The process always comes in 2 steps. Burn fat and build the visible muscles with ab exercises.

But before we get into the ab workouts, let’s quickly talk about your abdominal muscles.

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Anatomy of The Abdominal Muscles

Ab workouts - Abdominal muscle six pack
Anatomy Ab Muscle Chart

Building rock-solid upper and lower abs should start with a solid understanding of your ab muscles’ anatomy.

These are the main four core muscles located in your torso. They are also the drivers of your upper body movements whether it’s rotations, twists, or bends. 

  • Rectus Abdominis – this is your primary six-pack abs muscle. It is a long muscle that runs from your rib cage down to the lower abs. Developing this muscle group helps you build packs along the frontal area of your abs.
  • External obliques – you have two external obliques. They run on either side of your rectus abdominal muscles, from your 5th ribs down to your 12th ribs. Shredding these muscles also helps you lose the love handles.
  • 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.

The Best Ab Workout for Men

The best ab workouts for men

To sculpt chiseled and washboard abs, you need moves that work far beyond your frontal rectus abdominis.

You must train all adjacent muscles, including your obliques as well as transverse abdominis.

If you are going for 8-pack abs, be sure to include the lower abs on the list.

You absolutely cannot shred your entire torso and create the v shape you see on Men’s Fitness covers without them.

Here, we cover the exercises you need in your six-pack ab workouts.

The best ab exercises maximize your overall fat burn and strength building by working your abs.

What’s more, if you have a desk job and a beer belly, you need ab workouts that burn off the stomach fat to see any results.

After all, you won’t have the whole look of the ripped six-packs with a layer of fat covering your six-pack abs.

The best way to do that is to combine the ab workout routine with HIIT cardio to maximize your fat loss.

This ab workouts for men routine 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 the 17 best ab workouts for men that’ll also strengthen the core.

How to Do These Ab Workouts

Pick a few ab exercises from the list and perform each of them for the prescribed number of repetitions and sets. Rest 10-30 seconds then move to the next. 

The Best Ab Exercises for Men

Best ab exercises for men
Best Ab Exercises for Men

A great core workout will target and work all of your major core muscles. 

Training and keeping these core muscles strong help stabilize your body, support your spine, and enhance your overall fitness.

Here are the best ab workouts for men.

1. Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight squats - ab workouts

Squats are a compound exercise you can do to train your abs indirectly. They require the stability of your core throughout the entire movement. You can use a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell to add resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward, head straight, and abs tight. Pull your shoulder blades to prevent your shoulders and back from slouching. 
  • Hold your arms out in front of you. Keep them straight with palms facing down. Keep a slight bend and avoid locking your elbows.
  • Bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push your butt back, as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  • Pause for 1-2 seconds, then return to the starting position. Continue for 10 to 15 repetitions. Repeat.

2. Lunge

Lunge - core workout

The lunge is another great abs workout that engages your core indirectly. The lunge will also develop leg strength and endurance.

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Brace your core.
  • With your right leg, take a big step forward into a lunge.
  • Bend your front knee and lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Don’t let your right knee past the right toe.
  • Keeping your glutes tight, press into the front heel and come up to starting position. Repeat on the left side.

3. Kneeling Ab Roller

This ab workout will undoubtedly challenge your core strength. It’s one of my favorite six-pack abs workouts to do at the end of my routine.

Your main focus while performing the ab roller is to keep your core intact while you roll out. Case in point, rolling out isn’t particularly hard.

The challenge is in controlling your hips and back while moving your roller outward.

Without the core activation, it’s easy to slouch your hips and hyperextend your back.

Equipment needed: ab roller

To fight the force, contract your abs aggressively to control your upper body form.

  • Kneel on a mat with your knees hip-width apart. Place your ab wheeler on the floor in front of your body (off the mat).
  • Engage your core and grab the wheeler with both hands.
  • Keeping the abs tight, slowly roll the roller out until your upper body is parallel to the floor.
  • Without arching your back, roll the wheeler inward to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 reps.

4. GLute Bridge

Glute bridge - core workout

The glute bridge is a great exercise to activate the glutes and build core stability.

  • Lay down on your back with your arms by your sides. Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees. Your feet should be hip-width apart and toes pointed straight out. 
  • Tighten your glutes and abs as you raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  • Without arching your back, keep your hips at the highest point to form a straight line from your hips to shoulders. 
  • Hold the top position for 2 seconds squeezing your glutes. 
  • In a controlled manner, lower your hips down to the floor. Muscle activation should be felt in your glutes, not hamstrings the most. Move your feet closer to your glutes if you feel more in hamstrings. Perform the glute bridge for 10-15 reps.

5. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing - ab workout

You can get a total-body workout, with one piece of exercise equipment.

The kettlebell swing is a great exercise to build power and strength. It targets your glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, and the stabilizing muscles of your shoulders and back.

This simple move can activate both the upper abs and lower abs in one swing motion. You’ll also feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings as you swing.

  • Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend at your waist and grab a kettlebell with both hands. Make sure your palms face your body.
  • Brace your core and bend your knees slightly. Swing your kettlebell back through your legs and pushing your hips forward to propel the kettlebell into the air.
  • Perform 10-15 repetitions, no need to go till exhaustion.

6. Hardstyle Plank

Hardstyle Plank

Planks are the ultimate home core workout and perfect for a beginner. They work your entire core and help you get those visible abs by just staying put.

While it resembles the regular plank, you’ll feel it 10 times more with the hardstyle plank. Fair to say, the hardstyle plank takes your core strength to the next level.

Its body positioning is the same as that of the elbow plank, but with every muscle in use.

It’s not solely an exercise for your core.

It’s full-body training where you engage your butt, shoulders, lower back, and even the quads.

Your whole body works to make sure there are no movements in any part of your body.

It’s one exercise to master if you want to maximize your results from planks.

  • Get down into a high plank 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 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.

7. Side Plank

Side plank ab workouts

The side plank is a great core workout for building core strength and working your oblique muscles.

If you have a weaker back, this also helps you strengthen your lower back muscles while building a stronger core.

  • Lie on a yoga mat sideways with your left elbow and left forearm on the mat. 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.
  • 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 butt 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.

8. Dead Bug

Dead Bug
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The dead bug exercise is a floor exercise that trains and stabilizes your abs and core. It builds a stable core strength that supports your spine and everyday activities.

This is essential as all your daily movements including walking stem from the core. Deadbug is also one exercise that’s gentle on your back, making it suitable for anyone with a weaker lower back.

  • Set up a mat on the floor for back support. Start by lying on your back, keeping your feet flat on the mat, and bending your knees to a 45-degree angle. Spread your feet to about hip-width apart and keep your shoulders down.
  • Brace your core and lift both hands up above your shoulders. Keep your palms facing each other.
  • Keeping the bend in your knees, lift your legs so your knees are over the hips.
  • Slowly return your left arm and right leg to the floor while keeping your right arm and left leg intact.
  • As you inhale, bring your left arm and right leg back and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Perform 10 -15 reps per side.

9. Mountain Climber

Mountain climber exercise - ab workouts for men

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, quads, and calves.

For this exercise, I like using a timer and going as hard as I can for 30 seconds.

  • Start at the top of a pushup position with your spine straight, so your body forms a straight line from your head to heels.
  • 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.

10. Reverse Crunch

Reverse Crunch Workout

Want a flat stomach? The reverse crunch will do the trick. It will also work your hip flexors.

  • 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.
  • 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.

11. Leg Drop

Leg Drop - ab exercises for men

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.

  • 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
  • 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.

12. Hip Roll

Hip roll - ab workouts
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In one move, 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.

13. Exercise Ball Roll-Out

Exercise 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 fists on the ball.

  • Get down on your knees in front of a Swiss or medicine ball and into the forearm plank position with your 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.

14. Swiss Ball Crunch

Swiss Ball Crunch - Ab Workouts
Swiss Ball Crunch Exercise
  • 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.
  • 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.

15. Exercise Ball Knee Tuck

Exercise Ball Knee Tuck - ab workouts for men

This workout builds your ab muscles and increases flexibility and mobility.

  • Get down in the tabletop position 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 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.

16. Russian Twist 

Russian twist exercise

The Russian twist is a simple core exercise to work the obliques, shoulders, and hips. It is typically performed in a seated position, where you lift your bended knees off the ground and you twist your torso from side to side.

The twisting motion generated by your core helps strengthen and tone your midsection.

  • Start in a seated position on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Brace your core and lean back slightly so your torso and legs create a V-shape.
  • Keeping your core engaged for balance, twist your torso from side to side. Keep your legs still. Feel your obliques as you twist your torso side to side. Perform 15 reps per side.

17. Exercise Ball Reverse Oblique Crunch

Exercise Ball Reverse Oblique Crunch
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 core 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 work out to start.

Final Word on Ab Workouts for Men

There you have it! A list of 17 best ab workouts for men to get a ripped midsection.

Remember all, these strength training exercises will build muscle, but to see that muscle, you are also going to have to lower your body fat percentage.

You can also combine any of these exercises with cardio such as bike and jumping jacks to achieve faster results.

Just keep in mind that exercises alone won’t get you the flat stomach you are after. You need a healthy eating plan in conjunction with working out.

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