Best Abs Exercises For a Rock-Strong Core

If you want to learn how to get six-pack abs, you need to combine a healthy diet and consistent fitness routine with these best abs exercises…

Some people think that the best way to build a six pack is to do endless crunches. If they were right, this article would be incredibly short.

Get kitted out for your abs workout with the best gym shorts for men

The reality is that you need the best abs exercises to work all your abdominal muscles – the deep-lying transversus abdominis, the internal and external obliques and the rectus abdominis, the muscle that makes up the visible six pack.

Of course, if your body fat levels are too high, you won’t be able to see your six-pack, so you need to combine effective abs exercises with a healthy diet and – to lose body fat – a moderate calorie deficit.

Related: Six-Pack Science – The Anatomy Of Your Abs

9 Best Abs Exercises

man demonstrating barbell rollout man demonstrating barbell rollout

BARBELL ROLLOUT

Recommended reps: 6
Recommended sets: 4

Benefits of the barbell rollout

When it comes to abs training, sports and conditioning coaches don’t see eye to eye with physique-focused trainers.

Sports coaches are wary of isolation moves and conventional abs exercises that have little application on the field.

One of the few abs exercises that both camps love, however, is the rollout.

This is because it packs a lot into one move: working the whole kinetic chain (your muscles, bones and nerves), and requiring stability at the end of the range of movement and strength to get back to the start position.

How to do the barbell rollout

  • Start by kneeling on the floor with your hands on the bar, below your shoulders and just wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Your spine should remain in a neutral position throughout the move.
  • Contract your abs and slowly roll the bar away from you, making sure you don’t let your hips drop and your back hyperextend.
  • When you can’t go any further without compromising good form, roll the bar back to the start.

Abs advice: Keep your core braced for the duration of the exercise.

Related: 35 Of The Best Barbell Exercises For Every Muscle Group

man lying flat on ground demonstrating part one of modified v-sit man sitting up demonstrating modified v-sit

MODIFIED V-SIT

Recommended reps: 12
Recommended sets: 4

Benefits of the modified v-sit

Time under tension is important for building muscle, and there’s no better way to keep your abs under pressure for an extended period than with a controlled v-sit.

The full version requires good hip flexibility, but this modified version can be done by anyone and works your obliques, hip extensors and balance as well as the abdominals.

Stay fractionally off the ground between reps – it’s tough, but you’ll see the benefits.

How to do the modified v-sit

  • Lie flat with your arms by your sides and your feet together just off the floor.
  • Sit up and extend your arms forward while at the same time bringing your knees in to your chest.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

Abs advice: Hold for 2 secs at the top of each rep for optimal muscle activation.

man demonstrating reverse crunch best abs exercises man demonstrating reverse crunch best abs exercises

REVERSE CRUNCH

Recommended reps: 12
Recommended sets: 4

Benefits of the reverse crunch

If you’ve been training your abs hard with crunches, you’ve probably already built a two-pack.

But if you fail to include any lower abs exercises into your workout regime, all you’re doing is ensuring that your two-pack never spreads south and turns into a solid set of six.

The reverse crunch specifically targets your lower abs so you can complete your rock-hard core.

How to do the reverse crunch

  • Start with your head and shoulders flat on the floor with your fingertips at your temples, your knees bent at 90˚ and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Contract your abs to lift your hips, then curl your knees towards your chest, keeping them bent at 90˚.
  • Pause at the top, squeezing your abs, then lower your legs slowly back to the start.

Abs advice: Lower your legs under control to maintain time under tension.

man demonstrating dumbbell crunch best abs exercises man demonstrating dumbbell crunch best abs exercises

DUMBBELL CRUNCH

Recommended reps: 12
Recommended sets: 4

Need a pair of dumbbells? Discover the best dumbbells for home workouts

Benefits of the dumbbell crunch

Are you doing crunches until the cows come home but still finding you haven’t sculpted the perfect six-pack? The chances are you’re not working your abs hard enough.

Like every other muscle group, they need increasingly heavy loads to keep growing.

The fix is ​​simple: start adding extra weight to the crunch to force your abs out of their comfort zone so they have no choice but to strengthen.

How to do the dumbbell crunch

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand with bent elbows.
  • Contract your abs to lift your torso up, straightening your arms as your chest rises towards your knees to take the weights towards your feet.
  • Pause at the top of the move before lowering slowly back to the start.

Related: Best Dumbbell Exercises & Workouts For Every Body Part

man demonstrating star side plank best abs exercises

STAR SIDE PLANK

Recommended reps: 15 seconds each side
Recommended sets: 5

Benefits of the star side plank

You can’t underestimate the importance of having a solid core. Not only will it allow you to lift heavier in all the major lifts and move more effectively on the sports pitch, you’ll also have the foundations to build an impressive six-pack.

This upgrade on the plank will work your core and obliques – those muscles either side of your abs – really hard, as well as recruiting muscles in your shoulders and quads as you raise and straighten your arm and legs to form a star shape.

It’s a great (and under-used) move to build stability and strength across your body.

How to do the star side plank

  • Lie on your side, supported on one forearm with your elbow under your shoulder and one leg on top of the other.
  • Raise your hips off the ground to form a straight line from head to heels, then raise and straighten your arm and leg and hold.

Abs advice: Once you can hold for 15 secs, try holding a light dumbbell in your raised hand.

man demonstrating crunch and throw with medicine ball best abs exercises man demonstrating crunch and throw with medicine ball best abs exercises

MEDICINE BALL CRUNCH AND THROW

Recommended reps: 12
Recommended sets: 4

Benefits of the medicine ball crunch and throw

Doing cunches is a good start if you’re trying to build an impressive six-pack. But adding weight and explosive power to the move with the medicine ball crunch and throw makes for a tough and highly effective abs builder.

Not only are your abs forced to work harder to crunch your torso up with the extra resistance from the med ball and generate enough force to propel the ball forward, but they also need to keep your torso up so that you can receive the ball back.

How to do the medicine ball crunch and throw

  • Start flat on your back with knees bent at 90˚, holding a medicine ball with both hands against your chest.
  • Crunch up and powerfully push the medicine ball away from you towards a partner.
  • Hold at the top of the move as he passes the ball back, then lower back down and repeat.

Abs advice: If you don’t have a training partner, chuck the ball into the air at the top of each rep, catch and repeat.

Related: Medicine Ball Workout For Men: Full-Body Circuit

man demonstrating abs walkout exercise man demonstrating second part of abs walkout exercise

WALKOUT

Recommended reps: 8th
Recommended sets: 4

Benefits of the walkout

Being able to walk on your hands provides far more benefits that just being able to join the circus.

This surprisingly tough abs move works your entire core region, as well as your shoulders, lats, chest and arms, making it a great exercise to build a strong, v-shaped upper body.

The key to the move is to not rush it: the slower you can do it, the longer you place these target muscles under tension so they have an effective stimulus to grow back bigger and stronger.

How to do the walkout

  • Bend from your hips so that your hands and feet are close together on the floor.
  • With your feet rooted to the spot, slowly walk your hands forward until your body forms a straight line from head to heels, then walk back to the start position.

Abs advice: Make the move harder by holding a plank or doing press-ups at the bottom before walking back up to the start position.

Man performing a gym ball rollout - best abs exercises
GYM BALL ROLLOUT

Recommended reps: 10-12
Recommended sets: 3

Benefits of the gym ball rollout

Using a gym ball keeps your arms closer to your torso, limiting the range of motion your abs are exposed to.

How to do the gym ball rollout

  • Start on your knees with your hands on the gym ball.
  • Slowly roll the ball away from your body, keeping your core braced throughout.
  • Once your torso is parallel to the ground, contract your abs to roll the ball back to the start.

Abs advice: This is a good move to build core strength before you advance to more testing exercises such as the band fall-through.

Man performing a standing band fall-through - best abs exercises
STANDING BAND FALL-THROUGH

Recommended reps: 10-12
Recommended sets: 3

Benefits of the standing band fall-through

This is an ultra-effective abs move because there’s tension on your abs even in the start position. Starting each rep with your abs under tension ensures the muscles never get the chance to relax and switch off – in fact, they have to work increasingly hard throughout each individual rep and as the set progresses.

How to do the standing band fall through

  • Attach resistance bands over pull-up handles and hold one in each hand.
  • Stand leaning forward slightly so there is tension on your abs.
  • Keeping your body straight, lean forwards as far as you can go, maintaining tension on your abs throughout.
  • Hold the bottom position briefly, then contract your abs to return to the start position.

Abs advice: Focus on tensing your abs as well to increase muscle stimulation so you recruit and train more fibers.

Related content:

  1. Arms and Abs Workout To Maximize Your Mirror Muscles
  2. 10-Minute Abs Workouts For Core Strength & Lung Power
  3. Abs Workout: Work Your Core With This Crunch-Free Routine

Head over to our sister site, Women’s Fitness UK, to discover the best abs exercises for women

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