When I ask someone what their fitness goals are, I often hear the response ... "I just want abs!"
Well, if some six-pack abs and a strong core are what you're after ... I've got good news for you: You're in the right place!
Building a strong core and abs has so many benefits beyond just looking good! It's critical to have a strong core ... after all, it's literally the center of your body.
It provides stability for your entire body, especially your spine ... and having this stabilization strength will serve you in more ways than you may know!
This includes everything from your strength to your mobility and quality of life. Plus, if you're an athlete, core strength will give you a huge competitive advantage.
On top of that, it's crucial to have a strong core when it comes to preventing injury.
That's why having a good ab routine and incorporating some ab work in your workouts is so important.
Now, if the six-pack is your main goal ... it's a twofold process.
Ab workouts can tone your abs so you can define the underlying muscle, which is great. However, if you really want a six-pack, you also have to burn any excess fat in your midsection.
The six-pack appearance is a sign of low body fat. But, you still have to build your abs to change their appearance, and really help them pop too!
So let's talk about it...
In this article, I'lI cover some of my favorite ab exercises, a couple awesome ab workouts, and what you need to do to lean out and get that six-pack!
Before We Jump In...
Before we jump into the best ab workout routine, let's talk about technique. It's crucial!
Since you already use your core and abs every day, you already have some practice using them. Reaching, balancing, walking, and even just standing are all examples of this.
Your core is so central to your mobility that almost every exercise uses your abs in some way ... which is great news!
You have the opportunity to use your abs in almost every one of your workouts.
So when you're at the gym, it's important to intentionally engage your abs and core to make the most of your workout.
When you do these exercises, engage your core by bracing your ab muscles.
This will keep you more stable as you complete each rep and ensure that you're activating your core. Plus, it's a great habit to get into to help avoid injury.
So keep this in mind as you perform these exercises ... or any exercise for that matter.
Here are 10 of my favorite ab exercises that will definitely help you feel the burn...
My Top 10 Ab Exercises
Let's get into some exercises! After I give you my favorites and how to do them, I'll give you a couple options for ab exercises you can do in just 15 minutes!
As a bonus, most of these can be done at the gym or in the comfort of your own home.
You can also add weights to some of these exercises if you want to increase the burn, but you still shouldn't need a bench or ball to get one heck of a workout.
Bridges are a great way to focus on your core while giving your glutes and hamstrings a decent workout too.
It's also a bit easier on your lower back than some movements, if that's a problem area for you.
Get in the starting position by lying on your back with your knees bent, and the back of your feet flat on the floor. Your palms should also be flat on the ground on either side of your body.
Push your back and butt off the ground by pushing through your feet. When your hips reach the top, squeeze your glutes before lowering your body back to the floor.
Crunches are a classic core exercise because they are simple and effective. When it comes to solid exercises like this, there's really no need to re-invent the wheel!
Set yourself up by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, and knees bent. Cross your arms in front of your chest to make sure your neck stays untucked.
Engage your abs and roll your head, neck, and shoulders forward off the ground, toward your knees. Once your upper body meets your knees, pause, then slowly lower back down.
3. Plank Twists
Plank twists are going to use your whole body, but you'll definitely notice the ab and core strength these take.
Get into a plank position by laying on your stomach. Prop yourself up on your forearms and toes, while bracing your core to keep your back straight and neutral.
Keep your upper body in place as you rotate your mid-body/hips to either side. Each hip should "dip" to each side of your body ... that's why you'll often hear these called plank hip dips too!
Do this for a set number of reps ... I like to shoot for 10-15 on each side.
4. Leg Raises
This is a great ab exercise. for your lower abdominal muscles. It can also help you build some solid strength and stability.
If you sit at a desk most of the day like me, your hips flexors will love this exercise.
Lie face up with your back flat on the ground and arms at either side of your body. Start by lifting your legs off the floor until they are perpendicular to the floor.
If you need to, you can keep a slight bend in your knees. Slowly lower your legs to the floor, keeping your abs and core braced.
Try not to let your feet or legs completely return to the ground ... this will keep the tension in your abs! Do this for 10-20 slow and controlled reps.
5. Arm Slides
This is one of the best ab exercises you can do for your entire core! Before you start, you'll need a couple core sliders or two small hand towels and a smooth floor.
Start by getting on all fours so your hands are aligned with your shoulders and your knees with your hips. Place the towels or sliders under your palms when you're ready to begin.
Brace your core and keep your arms extended as you slide your palms forward. When you can't reach any further without losing balance, use your core to pull yourself back to the starting position. Start with 10-rep sets here, as this one can be very challenging!
6. Flutter Kicks
If you haven't done this ab exercise before ... it burns! Flutter kicks demand a ton of endurance from your abs and can even be taxing on your glutes, hip flexors, and quads.
Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides or under your glutes, palms facing down.
With a slight bend in your knees, extend your legs and lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor.
At a quick pace, move your feet up and down in short segments. That's it! Don't underestimate these though ... they can be brutal.
It's easiest to set a time limit for these as well, so do as many flutter kicks as you can for 30-60 seconds for a few sets!
7. Butterfly Sit-Ups
Butterfly sit-ups are basically a slightly more challenging version of a basic sit-up. The difference is you can't rely on your hip flexors as much as a normal sit-up. That just means more work for your abs and entire core!
Lie flat on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent like a butterfly stretch. From here, lift your arms above your head to get fully into the starting position.
Using the strength of your core, pull your body up until you're sitting upright and can touch your toes.
Next, slowly lower your body back down to the starting position.
I find that 10-20 is a good rep range to use here.
This is a great exercise that will work your entire core, especially your abs. It will also help with greater control and balance in all your daily movements!
Start by lying on your back with your arms above your head and legs extended in front of you.
Point your toes, squeeze your thighs together, and squeeze your glutes. Next, lift your legs and upper back off the ground so your hands and feet meet to form a V with your body.
Make sure your core is braced the entire time! When you reach the top, slowly lower your arms and legs back to the floor. Do this for a few sets of 10-12 reps and your abs will feel the burn!
9. Banded High-to-Low Chops
You are going to need an exercise band for this one ... it will engage your obliques like no other! Another way you can do this exercise is with a single-handle attachment and a cable machine.
Attach a band around a secure poll or attachment high up.
Grip the band with both hands, step backward, and face sideways compared to the band’s anchor point.
With your arms straight, chop across your body in a diagonal motion. You'll pull the band from eye level to roughly hip level on the opposite side of your body.
Once you've rotated as far as you can, slowly return the band to its original position.
10. Mountain Climbers
This exercise is going to really work your abs and get your heart rate up!
Start by getting in a plank position. Make sure to squeeze your abs and glutes to keep your back nice and straight.
From here, pull your right knee in toward your chest. Quickly shoot your right leg straight behind you, returning to the starting position, while also drawing your left knee in toward your chest.
You will rapidly switch between each leg, almost as if you're running in place. Do your best to make sure your core remains braced and your head stays up.
These are great to do for a set amount of time. Personally, I like doing them in 30-second intervals.
Piecing It All Together
Now that you’re headed in the right direction and have 10 effective exercises for your ab workout, here are some ways you can put them all together.
If you can start incorporating ab work into your workouts two to three times a week ... you'll notice a huge difference.
Here are two 15-20-minute ab workouts that will torch your core!
15 Minute Ab EMOM
If you don't know ... EMOM stands for "every minute on the minute." Complete the set number of reps for each of these exercises, then when the minute is up, move on to the next exercise!
You'll repeat this for 3 rounds...
|Flutter Kicks||As many as you can in 45 seconds|
|Mountain Climbers||50 Total (25 each leg)|
|Plank||Hold for 30 seconds|
15-20 Minute Ab Workout
This may just be your new favorite ab workout! Give it a try, and let me know what you think. If you'd like to make it more difficult ... feel free to add reps, sets, or even decrease your rest time.
|Butteryfly Crunches||2||15 Reps|
|Arm Slides||2||10 Reps|
|Plank Twists||2||30 Total (15 Each side)|
|Plank||1||Hold as long as you can!|
Don't Forget the Most Important Part!
Like I said earlier, if you really want your abs to show, your diet has to be on point.
That's why they say abs are formed in the kitchen ... there's nothing more important than your diet.
On top of that, your discipline and consistency with your other training sessions is also super important.
If you're not seeing the results you truly want ... that's what we're here for.
A great place for you to get the education, information, accountability, and help you need is inside the 1st Phorm App.
The app literally has everything you need to succeed. I'm talking a one-stop shop to track your food, get custom workout programs, and even learn all the info you need to reach all your health and fitness goals.
Heck, you can even message back and forth with your own personal advisor with any questions you may have.
So, what are you waiting for?
Make the commitment today and start making your health and fitness goals a reality ... one foot in front of the other.
If you have any questions or need any help, don't hesitate to reach out to us either! Our NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches are always happy to help out. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send an email to CustomerService@1stPhorm.com and we'll get you on track to earning the results you want right away!