If you have fitness goals, one of them might be washboard abs. However, this is not always an easy feat. Many guys go about their quest for a ribbed torso the wrong way. You could do hundreds of thousands of sit-ups, but you’re not going to see changes unless you get lean.
If you’re eating well but still have trouble shedding body fat, don’t assume that you should engage in excessive cardiovascular exercise. Athletes that run marathons without paying attention to their core might find it hard to pinch an inch, but they might not have a chiseled stomach.
To really get those muscles to pop, you need to strengthen your core and pay attention to all of the muscles that comprise your abdominals. You could also use good genes. Some people have to work much harder than others to achieve the sexy definition of an underwear model. Regardless of your genetics, you have the best chance of getting a six-pack with an effective workout routine that burns fat and targets the right muscles.
Doing crunches isolates your muscles, strengthening your core. However, it won’t burn much fat. As your muscles grow, your body will burn more fat at rest. Therefore, you have to do a workout that combines muscle-building and ab-strengthening moves with calorie-burning exercises.
A routine that raises your heart rate as you work on your strength balances out your fat-shedding and muscle-enhancing needs. Circuit training allows you to target all of the muscles that make up your core, including the ones in your chest and around your spine.
You don’t want to limit yourself to sit-ups or crunches because you'll neglect some critical areas, such as your transverse abdominals and back. The best ab workout for a six-pack involves going through several exercises while resting as little as possible in between.
The following moves are ideal for abdominal definition. Work them into your circuit and follow a diligent nutrition plan that includes plenty of protein, even more, vegetables, and minimal sugar. You should start seeing results within about a month.
The ab wheel is an affordable fitness tool that doesn't take up much space but can give you impressive results if you use it correctly. It helps to stabilize your core and improve your posture. Unless your midsection is already quite strong, it can be tough to maintain good form while doing this exercise, though.
Brandon Carter demonstrates how to do this activity properly so that your abs, not your hamstrings or lats, do most of the work.
A full sit-up can strain your back and neck. This partial sit-up engages your stomach so that you can focus on the muscles that you’re trying to enhance.
The barbell rollout is performed similarly to the ab wheel rollout. It might be preferable if you don't want to purchase specialized workout equipment and already have a barbell set at home. Keep your glutes engaged and don't let your hips sag so that you stay stable while you move.
The Barbell Russian twist is an alternative to the seated exercise with the same name. It puts less pressure on the spine and enriches shoulder and hip mobility. This Men’s Health article refers to it as the full-contact twist and explains how to do it.
Performing a crunch on an exercise ball increases your range of motion and can really enhance your six-pack. Keep your lower back against the surface by engaging your core at all times. This will lengthen those muscles and protect your lower back.
A lot of abdominal exercises target the middle to upper abs without doing much for the lower abs. That’s why you need to add the dip/leg raise combo to your circuit session. You can perform this activity on the parallel bars at the local playground or with dip station equalizer bars at home.
Flutter kicks round out your workout by improving your range of motion and stabilizing your back. Adding them to the end of your workout can enhance your endurance. Make sure that there is little to no space between the floor and your lower back to force your abs to do the hard work instead of your hip flexors.
Front squats build up your quads, but they require you to hold your abs steady, which can encourage you to stabilize them during your entire workout. Shifting your weight forward also makes this a more spine-friendly movement than a traditional squat.
Although lots of people concentrate on the sides of their abs when they want to reduce their muffin top, targeting this area can widen your waist. The horizontal cable woodchop is a more functional movement that works your waist and promotes agility. You can do it with a resistance band or a lightweight.
The leg raise isolates your lower abs if you do it correctly. Put your hands slightly underneath your glutes to avoid injury, and don't bring your feet too close to the floor if your lower back is weak.
Medicine ball Russian twists tighten your obliques, giving you that sexy definition from your ribs to your hips. Keep your feet on the floor if lifting them is too difficult. Make sure that you keep your back straight to give your belly a good workout.
Mountain climbers can be done quickly to increase your heart rate or slowly to isolate your abs. Resting your hands on a medicine ball gives you a focal point and requires you to rely on your muscles for stability.
This deceivingly difficult move can be done with an exercise ball. It combines a plank and a pike to really squeeze that six-pack.
A plank is simple but effective. Rest your upper body on your hands or elbows, and extend your legs behind you. Hold your body in a straight line for 30 to 60 seconds.
You can do this move on a pull-up bar or at the playground. If you can already do a pull-up, raise your knees to your chest on your way up. If you can't raise your chin above the bar, hang with your arms straight, engaging your back and lifting your knees up and down.
A pushup rocket is a burpee with a jump in between reps. It gives you the stabilization that a plank offers while getting your heart rate up and boosting your agility.
The resisted reverse crunch targets the length of your abs, including the lower belly. Place a resistance band across the soles of your feet as you extend your legs to enhance this move.
If you have trouble performing a rollout on an ab wheel or with a barbell, try it on a Swiss ball to gain strength before you progress.
A seated knee tuck helps you strengthen and stabilize your abs. Place your hands behind you if you’re a beginner. Hold a medicine ball to make the exercise harder.
Side planks work the entire edge of your abdomen. If you do them correctly, you'll strengthen the muscles from your armpits to your hips.
Sprinters give you a chance to focus on each side of your abs and can give you that sexy line that extends from your hips to your groin.
The sit-up and throw improves your coordination as it works your abs. Do it with a partner for extra encouragement.
Star planks take the regular plank to the next level. You start in plank position and walk your hands and feet out before returning them to the starting pose.
Roll through each section of your six back by lying flat on the floor before bringing your upper body into a sit-up position. Work on your stability by holding a barbell above your head.
The suitcase deadlift improves all of your lifts, improves your balances and tightens your obliques.
Place your elbows on your Swiss ball and move them in a circle to do this exercise, which combines the benefits of a plank and a roll-up.
Accentuate almost every muscle in your torso with this move. Lie on your back, holding an exercise ball between your hands. As you raise your arms and legs, place the ball between your ankles, then lower everything before coming into a V and transferring the ball to your hands again.
You can do a similar exercise without the transfer by doing a V-up and lifting a medicine ball toward your toes.
Weighted sit-ups bump up the intensity of the regular version of the move. Stick to the basic variety if you’re new to ab exercises.
The half-kneeling chop improves definition diagonally down your abdomen and can really help your six-pack pop. Kneel next to an overhead rope that's attached to a cable stack. Pull the line down and across the front of your body, rotating at the hips and bringing your hands to your knee. You should move in a diagonal motion to get the most benefits.
Looking for some equipment to help you get the washboard abs you're fighting for? Take a look at my list of the Best Ab Machines.