14 Best Ab Workouts for Men to Work Upper & Lower Abs

Best Ab Workouts for Men

The absolute best ab workouts for men to get ripped six-pack abs that target both the upper and lower abs.

Let’s face it. Six-pack abs workout has been the holy grail of fitness for men, carving washboard abs that are the sole exemplifier of men’s physique.

But the recipe for the stellar set of abs is neither simplistic nor as straightforward as finishing your gym workout with a set of regular crunches.

The secret to the perfect “six-pack abs” goes far beyond traditional plank, crunches, situps, and flutter kicks for the matter.

Not that they aren’t effective. But you need more than just your favorite ab exercises that narrowly target the infamous rectus abdominis to carve out the best abs possible.

This is even so if you’re looking to get ripped to the point of developing not 6 but 8 packs that run all the way to the lower abdominals right above the pelvis.

It requires a good diet, a solid workout to lean out, and dynamic core exercises with the inclusion of upper and lower abs.

The process always comes in 2 steps. Burn fat and build the visible ab muscles.
You can certainly achieve maximum fat burning and lean out with a diet and physical activity like HIIT, resistance training, and lifting weight.

As for building the shredded torso, it relies on abs exercises that involve your whole body, activate the core, and hit the abdomen region that is often neglected like obliques, upper abs, and lower abs.

A great way to do this is to add a variety of different exercises that target the major muscles in your body. I’m talking about your legs, back, chest, shoulders, and of course your abdominals.

Understanding Your Abs

Building rock-solid upper and lower abs should start with a solid understanding of your ab muscles. These are the main four core muscles you need for the 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 the lower abs. Developing this muscle group helps you build packs along the frontal area of your abdominals.
  • 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.

So, What Is the Best Ab Workout?

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 internal and external obliques as well as transverse abdominis. If you going for 8-pack abs, be sure to include the lower abdominals to the list.

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 movements that give you a strong core and target muscles outside of your midsection, like hamstrings, quads, and lower back muscles.

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 daily ab workout 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 14 most effective ab exercises to strengthen and define abs and the core.

Once you are familiar with each exercise, pick 2-3 from the list below and perform them in a circuit style. We also put together a 10-minute ab workout you can immediately use as your go-to daily workouts.

None of these require a personal trainer and can be done with just your body weight, making them a great home workout.

However, we’ll throw in a few abdominal exercise variations in case you want to take this workout to the gym or add to some strength training.

Suggested reps and sets are noted at the end of exercise instructions/

14 Best Ab Workouts for Men

1. Squats 

Squats are one simple exercise you can do to train your abs. They require the stability of your core throughout the entire movement. 

In order to do a squat with proper form, all of your abdominal muscles have to be engaged the entire time to keep your torso from bending forward. This contraction of your abs is what makes this compound exercise one of the most effective ab workouts around and great for building strong abs. 

Depending on your fitness level, you can do bodyweight squats or add weights for additional challenges. Front squat for example will force your core muscles to work harder to keep the barbell/ dumbbell from pulling down. 

If it’s your first time performing squats, start with the bodyweight squat before adding weights. 

How to perform:

  1. Starting point: 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. 
  2. Down: 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.
  3. Return: Pause for 1-2 seconds, then return to the starting position. Continue for 10 to 15 repetitions. Repeat.

Pro tip: Intensify this by jumping up explosively from each squat and allowing your feet to lift off the floor.

2. Kettlebell Swing 

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.

By working the full range of motion, 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. 

To start: 

  1. 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. 
  2. Brace your core and bend your knees slightly. Swing your kettlebell back through your legs and push your hips forward to propel the kettlebell into the air. Perform 10-15 repetitions, no need to go till exhaustion.

3. Hardstyle Plank

Planks are the ultimate home ab workout and perfect for a beginner. They work your entire core and help you get those visible abs by just staying put. It’s one effective static exercise that’s used in many fitness disciplines including pilates, physical therapy, and even athlete’s training programs.

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 a full-body training where you engage your butt, shoulders, lower back, abs, 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.

To start:

  1. Get down into a push-up position with your legs extended back and your hands directly under your shoulders, feet hip-width apart.
  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.
  3. 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.

4. Side Plank

The side plank is a great ab 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.

  1. 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.
  2. In a count of three, engage your core and prop up your upper body on the forearm of your right arm.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Alternatively, you can add a trunk rotation.

5. Push-Up

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.

  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.
  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.
  3. 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, use a bench. Place your wrists on an elevated surface like a bench to perform an incline push-up instead. This is also a good modification to use until you build the strength to rep out multiple sets of push-ups.

6. Dead Bug

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. 

 While it may not look much vigorous in nature, it’s an abdominal toning exercise nevertheless. Within a few reps, it’ll put your entire abdomen including the upper abs and core on fire, while strengthening your spine, core, and back. 

 Check out the instructions below to do the move with the correct form: Set up for the pose by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about a foot away from your hips. Rest your arms alongside your body. 

To start:

  1. 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. 
  2. Brace your core and lift both hands up above your shoulders. Keep your palms facing each other. 
  3. Keeping the bend in your knees, lift your legs so your knees are over the hips. 
  4. Slowly return your left arm and right leg to the floor while keeping your right arm and left leg intact. 
  5. 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. 

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

  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.
  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.
  3. 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. Also no rotations while performing this exercise, keep your body straight and stable.

Make it harder: To advance this move, place both hands on an exercise ball while you shuffle your feet.

8. Reverse Crunch

Want a flat stomach? This abdominal exercise will do the trick. It will also work your hip flexors.

  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.
  2. Contract your abdominals and core, and raise your hips off the floor, keeping your knees bent, so your shins face the ceiling.
  3. 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.

9. 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.

  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
  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.
  3. 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.

10. Hip Roll

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In one motion, using the strength of your core, pull your legs back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
  4. 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.

11. 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 fists on the ball.

  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.
  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.

12. Swiss Ball Crunch

  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.
  2. Using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and shoulders. In the same motion, tuck your rib cage towards your pelvis.
  3. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Do 12-15 reps for 3 sets.

13. Swiss Ball Knee Tuck

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

  1. Get down in the tabletop position with your feet placed on a Swiss ball and your hands on the floor.
  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.

14. Ball Reverse Oblique Crunch

  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.
  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.
  3. 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?


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 bursts 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.

Can You Get Abs by Just Doing Ab Workouts?


Exercising your abdominal muscles will certainly develop abdominal strength. But that’s not to say, focusing only on the abs and core is the most effective way to your chiseled upper body.

In order to have a defined abdomen, you need to get rid of subcutaneous fat from your abdominal area. To do that, you need to eat nutritious meals in addition to workouts to burn fat, paired with this abs workout. 

It’s this stack that’ll guarantee the glowing packs of abs that’ll give you the confidence to go shirtless in the summer. 

No matter how intense ab workout you do, if you’re eating unhealthy foods, you can’t lean out enough to see results. You can’t out-train your bad diet, so to speak. 

We covered the healthy eating part in another article. In this post, we’ll tackle the best ab workouts for men.

The best part is that these effective ab exercises improve core strength, help with fat loss, and will give you the defined look you are after.


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.

Final Word

There you have it! A list of 14 best ab 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.

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 exercise alone won’t get you the flat stomach you are after. You need a healthy eating plan in conjunction with working out.

Also, check out these articles about our web site:

Which exercises did you find most challenging? Leave a comment below to let me know.

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