Let’s not beat around the bush—everyone and their mother wants a 6-pack.
It’s not only one of the most impressive muscles aesthetically, but a strong core is absolutely crucial in so many functional and athletic movements. There’s no way you can go wrong with strengthening your abs, and the extra attention whenever your shirt’s off definitely won’t hurt.
So let’s get right into it and see what it takes to get an Adonis-like physique.
…other than all the positive attention every time you hit the beach.
Core muscles are an extremely important part of your musculature, which makes core workouts a top priority for most people. For example, developing your core can have carry-over effects to other, heavy compound lifts such as deadlifts and squats.
Training the core can also help to protect against lower back pain, back injuries, and even increase your respiratory function—all key ingredients for a body that works like a well-oiled machine. This is in addition to the better balance you’ll develop, a better posture, and greater agility.
The “mirror” part of your abdominals is the rectus abdominis, which makes up what is considered the 6-pack muscle. This is in addition to other abdominal muscles such as the transverse abdominals, external obliques, and internal obliques—all of which have important roles to play, which is why it’s necessary to keep them in balance.
When it comes to talking about the upper abs, middle abs, and lower abs, it mostly comes down to the rectus abdominis. Your middle abs, for example, are critical for flexing your spine and bringing your ribcage close to your pelvis. A strong middle-ab region means a stronger core.
And since many of the best exercises involve just your bodyweight, they make for terrific home workouts.
Sit-ups are one of the most ubiquitous workouts out there, which has brought along its fair share of scandal—are sit-ups good or are they bad for?
With proper form, they can be great for the core. However, things don’t stop with the classic sit-up. Add some flair to the movement, and you’ve got an abs workout that’s sure to help your way to 6-pack-dom.
As you might’ve guessed with the name of this sit-up variant, it requires you to be in a declined position rather than the conventional flat-on-your-back position. With your upper body at a lower position than your hips and thighs, you have to put in much more work to raise your upper body to the necessary level. And more work means more gains.
You can do this with or without holding a weight, depending on your fitness level. Adjust a sit-up bench to about 30-degrees and firmly hook your legs underneath the footpad. With your hands behind your neck and keeping the back straight, slowly lower yourself backward until your back is almost touching the bench,
Reverse the movement until your body is parallel to the floor. The key with this exercise is going slow and maximizing the time your core is engaged.
This is an advanced abdominal exercise that’s guaranteed to gas out your abs.
The primary benefit of the hanging leg raise is that you’ll be hitting your abs from a completely different angle than most other abs exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. Rather than bringing the top of your body closer to your legs, you’ll be trying to get your legs up towards your upper body.
And since you’ll be hanging throughout the movement, your core will also have to engage its stabilizing muscles to prevent swinging.
All you’ll need is a pull-up bar and your own bodyweight for this ab workout. Begin by grasping the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing forward. Although you’ll be hanging, pull your shoulder blades back to prevent placing unnecessary stress on them.
Keeping your legs as straight as possible, engage your abdominals and hip flexors in order to slowly raise your legs out in front of you. While you want to aim for your legs to be parallel to the floor, go as far as you can while maintaining proper form. At the top of the movement pause for a moment before slowly lowering your legs while exhaling.
Try aiming for 10 reps in a set, or do as much as you’re able to.
Preparing you both for the Himalayas and the beach, mountain climbers are a terrific exercise to get you into the best shape ever.
Their primary claim to fame is what they do for your abdominals (obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about them here), but if done at a quick enough pace they really do become a full-body workout that also imparts cardio benefits. If you’re leaning towards a more rapid pace, mountain climbers can be a good HIIT activity.
Your legs and upper body will also get benefits from this movement since you’ll have to be supporting your weight throughout.
To begin, drop down into a push-up position with your weight supported by your toes and hands. Your arms should be fully extended and your legs straight and in line with your back. Keep your core engaged throughout the entire motion, with your shoulders, feet, and hips in a straight line.
Begin by bringing up your right knee to your chest as far as you can before returning it to the starting position. Then, continue with the left leg and continue alternating. While you can do these either fast or slow, going quicker will give you extra fat-burning benefits that’ll help when it comes to getting those abs to show.
Supermans are a relatively simple exercise, but with super benefits for several aspects of your body.
Much of their emphasis is placed on the erector spinae muscles and the abdominals which help to straighten and rotate. This exercise will also effectively engage your hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders if properly performed—the key being that it’s properly performed.
Adding a twist to the movement will further emphasize its focus on the muscles along your spine when compared to the conventional superman. This means a stronger back and lower chances of back pain and injuries from occurring.
You’ll want to lay down flat on your chest with your legs stretched straight out back while holding your fingertips to the sides of your head, elbows bent. Initiate the exercise by raising your chest and your legs up at the same time, trying to have just your abs touching the floor.
Once you get to the top of the position, hold it for a moment before twisting your upper body to the one side. Slowly do this and alternate sides before relaxing and coming back down to the ground.
If you’re down for a challenge you can make this exercise more difficult by holding a smaller weight on your neck with your hands.
Much like the sit-up, crunches have been the source of scandal for a long while as well. While they’re generally safe for most people if performed with good form, there’s a better alternative if you’re trying to carve out that 6-pack—especially when it comes to the middle abdominals.
Much like with leg raises, the reverse crunch has you switching up the conventional ab-workout by bringing your legs up to your upper body, rather than bringing the upper body down to your legs.
Reversing the classic crunch is a fantastic way to hit the exterior of your abdominals and ensure that they pop out with a low enough body fat. Furthermore, reverse crunches put your abs under tension for a longer amount of time than traditional crunches. And more tension equals more gains.
But just like with the classic crunch, the reverse crunch also needs to be done with the correct form.
Begin by lying down on your back with arms by your sides. Then, raise your legs so as to make your thighs perpendicular to the floor and bend your knees to achieve a 90-degree angle. Breathing out, brace your core, and bring the knees to your chest. Continue by bringing your hips up off the floor.
Once you’ve reached this position, hold for a count before slowly reversing the movement. And as with most of the exercises on this list, the key will be to go slow—this will lengthen the time your muscles are tensed and will impart better gains.
One of the most important roles that your abdominals play is allowing you to twist, and effectively control the twisting motion.
Many exercises don’t take this into account, since most movements in the gym are done with both halves acting equally to push or press something. This isn’t the way to emphasize the development of your core, however.
The Russian twist, which has your upper and lower body twisting in opposite directions, is called working in the transverse plane. This is extremely beneficial for developing the oblique muscles, which are in turn beneficial for a well-developed abdominal region.
Begin by sitting on the floor and bending your knees so as to allow your feet to be flat on the floor. Lean back your upper body and try to get to about 45-degrees to the floor, ensuring that your back remains straight throughout the entire exercise.
Clasp your hands together in front of you and engage your core while bringing your legs up off the floor. Continue by rotating your arms to one side and then alternating sides.
Floor wipers are exceptionally effective at working out the abdominals. Add a bit of free weight into the mix and you’ve got a seriously challenging workout that hits several different parts of your body.
It primarily targets the oblique muscles of the lateral abdomen, but it’ll also hit your mirror abdominal muscles that give you the six-pack—and as a cherry on top, it’ll give you a rounded workout by also engaging your deep abdominal muscles.
More than that, you can increase the difficulty by increasing the amount of weight you’re holding. That’ll help to train your shoulders and forearms to a lesser extent, helping you develop your stabilizer muscles.
Begin the exercise by lying down on your back. You’ll want to raise your arms straight up with elbows locked out, holding onto a barbell with your chosen weight. With arms extended and legs straight out, raise your legs about 6 inches off of the ground. Keep your knees locked.
Lift up your toes to the right side of the barbell while bracing the abdominal muscles. Try to reach as high as possible and then pause for a moment. Then, slowly reverse the movement making sure to keep the pace relatively slow. Repeat on the opposite side and alternate.
This advanced calisthenic movement is guaranteed to burn through your abdominals while also giving your back a workout at the same time.
Muscles worked will include the lats, teres major, abdominals, rhomboids, and even the traps. This movement requires you to create a V-shape with your body, hinging at the hips. Similar to the hanging leg raises, you’ll instead be doing pull-ups while trying to maintain your body’s V-shaped form.
Much like with regular pull-ups, a wider grip will allow you to place a greater focus on the lats while a narrower grip will emphasize the arms.
You’ll need a pull-up bar and your own body weight to perform this move. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing forward, and bring back your shoulder blades so you’re not at a dead hang.
Initiate the exercise by raising your legs until they’re at least at the level of your eyes—the more pronounced the v-shape, the more of an ab workout you’ll be getting. Continue by pulling your chin up to the bar while maintaining the shape of your body. Once you get to the top of the movement, pause for a count before slowly lowering yourself back down.
Bringing it back to basics with the hollow hold, this ab training staple is a must in any core workout routine.
If done correctly, the hollow hold will improve your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, inner thighs, quads, and the rector spinae muscles. It’s a key exercise for developing both stability and strength in your core region, so performing it well is extremely important.
Since this is a hold, much like the plank position in reverse, it’s considered an isometric exercise. This means that your muscles are kept tense but there is no movement taking place, which is a good type of element to throw in your training.
Lie down on your back with your legs extended out and your arms by your sides. Begin the hold by bracing your core and squeezing your thighs together. This should effectively drive your lower back into the ground and raise your shoulder blades off of it. Your legs should also remain 2 to 3 inches above the floor, along with your head.
Try holding for as long as possible before lowering back down.
When it comes to taking out some stress (or rage), the medicine ball slam is the way to go. And while you’re giving yourself some mental self-care, you’ll be happy to find out that your abs and upper back are also going to be thanking you.
The medicine ball slam is a terrific movement for engaging all sorts of muscles in your body. While the abs and upper back will be the most important, everything from your legs to your arms will be necessary to successfully pull this off—not that it takes much to successfully perform it.
The key aspect is having a solid-enough floor, or maybe opting for a lighter weight or a sandbell if you’re not quite sure.
Begin by standing with a medicine ball in both hands out in front of your body. Adopt a shoulder-width stance before pressing it overhead—continuing until your arms are straight and elbows locked out. Now comes the “slam” part.
Picturing something (or someone) underneath the impact zone is optional, but you will need to follow the ball down with a squat. However, try to maintain proper squat form and avoid bending at the hips. The ball will bounce up, which is your cue to grab it and press it upwards once again. Continue for the desired amount of reps—about 12 to 15 should do it.
While our list of middle abdominal workouts will put you on the right path to a Greek sculpture-like aesthetic, the correct movements are only a small part of getting a 6-pack.
What’s most important is getting enough cardio and eating the right foods to burn off any excess body fat and keep belly fat at an absolute minimum. The key here is having a low body fat percentage, which healthy eating should help pave the way for.
If you’re looking to turbocharge your way to the 6-pack club, consider taking a fat burning supplement. With your new, shredded physique, you’ll be turning all the heads next time you hit the beach.