Dear Reader & Fellow Sixpack Seeker,
As a man in today’s “plugged in” world, you can easily discover tons of exercise routines that workout your abs and give you the elusive beach body sixpack that you desire.
The biggest challenge that most men face is that they lack the expertise to separate the garbage ab exercises from the proven, most effective ab workouts that will sculpt, define & harden your belly & give you a ripped sixpack.
But the good news is this:
I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 ab exercises for you below, that can “plug and play” in to your current workout routine instantly.
While this list may not be 100% perfect or complete, it does provide sixpack exercises that work each specific section of your abdominal muscles and are recommended by research studies & industry experts.
If you find this article on ab workouts for men useful, you can share the list with your friends & colleagues on Facebook, twitter, etc.
Let’s Get Started On Your Sixpack Abs:
The first step in deciding which ab routine or exercise you should use is to clearly define (to yourself) why you want abs. For instance, a football player may want to build strong abdominal muscles so that can improve his core strength which will help boost his overall athleticism.
However, another man might want a shredded six pack so that he can look good at the beach and feel confident about this health. He’s not concerned with improving his overall athleticism, meaning that he should actually ignore many of the workout routines that the football player would use.
Our Top 10 Ab Workouts are for men who want a combination of improved strength, athleticism and a reduced risk of injuring themselves but would also like to have a set of well defined abdominal muscles that will boost your confidence. Let’s dig in.
Ab Workout #1: Single-Leg Jackknife Sit-Up
The Single-Leg Jackknife Situp utilizes your arms, trunk and legs and requires some degree of coordination and balance. But not to worry, you don’t have to be a super athlete to effective perform this ab routine. Although enough single leg jackknife sets and you’ll be well on your way to having an incredibly strong core that would make most athletes green with envy.
Abdominal Exercise #1: Single-Leg Jackknife Situp – Here’s how to do them:
1. Lie flat, with your back touching the ground. Extend your arms over your head, so that the tips of your fingers are pointed at the wall behind you. Your palms should be facing the ceiling.
2. As you begin to sit up, make sure that your back is straight and bring your shoulders past your ears while simultaneously lifting your left leg up off the ground and bringing it towards your hands.
3. Keep your left toes extended and your leg as straight as possible (try not to bend your knee—more on this in a second).
4. Finally, continue to drive your left leg towards your hands and continue to bring your hands forward until they reach your ankle.
5. Repeat with right leg.
Ab Workout Video #1: Single-Leg Jackknife Sit-Up
Benefit: Lifting your leg in to the air forces you to balance and the primary muscles that we use for balance are the abdominals. Next, by bringing both of your arms over your head and performing a “situp” motion activates additional muscle fibers in your core. The activation of additional muscle fibers means more workload on your abs and more workload means more growth.
Up next is an effective lower ab workout
Ab Workout #2: Garhammer Raises
When you want to target your lower abs, it’s important to know that the abs below the belly button (subumbilical) have a “different integration pattern” than your other abs. So conventional ab routines simply won’t get rid of those amazingly stubborn lower abs.
But here’s one exercise that will help you build & tone your lower abs fast.
Abdominal Exercise #2: Garhammer Raises – Here’s how to do them:
1. Head over to the pullup bar and grab the bar so that your palms are facing towards the wall in front of you.
2. Second, drop your chin towards your sternum
3. Bring your knees up to 90 degrees and touch the insides of both knees together.
4. Next, touch the inside of your two big toes together but keep your heels separated. Your feet will resemble a triangle shape.
5. Finally, drive your knees towards your lower sternum, keeping everything else constant and then return to the 90 degrees position.
Ab Workout Video #2: Garhammer Raise
Benefit: The Garhammer Raise allows you to specifically target the lower abs based on their integration pattern, which as you will remember, is different than the integration pattern of the abdominal muscles above the belly button.
Number 3 on our list is….
Ab Workout #3: The Reverse Crunch
Here at M&F Workouts, we don’t believe that all crunches are created equal. In fact, if we were having a party and inviting our favorite exercises, Mr. Situp wouldn’t get an invitation and if he tried showing up, we’d have Uncle Phil throw him out, Fresh Prince of Bel Air style.
However, when it comes to the reverse crunch or reverse situp, we’re true believers. So let’s take a break from my nerdy, 90’s TV analogies and break down the reverse crunch.
Abdominal Exercise #3: Reverse Crunches – Here’s how to do them:
1. Lie on your back with your legs elevated and knees bent and your hands behind your head.
2. Bring your knees to your chest and make sure you do not pull on your neck or head with your hands.
3. Try to bring the top of your knee cap as close to your chest without touching as possible, then drive back
down so that your heels face the wall, toes pointed to the ceiling, knees slight bent.
Ab Workout Video #3: Reverse Crunches
Benefit: Many workouts require engagement (flexion/movement) from other muscle groups which reduces the amount of tension that you can apply to the muscle. However, the reserve crunch does not require engagement from your back or hips thus maximizing the amount of tension that can be applied directly to your abs on each rep.
Ab Workout #4: Low Cable Pullins
I’ve just recently begun to implement this ab workout in to my exercise routine and I have to say I’m in love. When it comes to biomechanics, conceptually it is the same motion as your generic “hanging knee raises.”
But…so much better.
If we break-down muscular development to it’s most simplistic form, muscle can be built in two ways:
1) Increasing Time Under Tension
2) Increasing Load Under Tension
Therefore, by applying additional “load” (weight) will increase the level of tension on your abdominals and thus result long term abdominal muscle growth. (More details below)
Abdominal Exercise #4: Low Cable Pullins – Here’s how to do them:
1. You begin by laying down with your feet facing the cable machine.
2. For this exercise you can use either ankle straps (pictures below) or the “handles” most often used in conjunction with the cable machine (pictured below too).
3. For beginners and the less flexible, please leave your ego at the door and apply a minimal amount of weight, say 5 or 10lbs. This exercise utilizes your hip flexors and too much tension will injury them, meaning that you get sidelined…and when you’re sidelined you can’t work out your abs…and when you can’t work out your abs you get fat.
4. Finally, with the cables secure around either your ankles or feet, drive your knees past your hips up towards your head. Bring them back down, so that your legs are fully extended (erect) and repeat.
Ab Workout Video #4: Low Cable Pull-Ins
Benefit: When we want to build our chest, there’s more options than just bodyweight exercises like pushups. We can add weight to our bench press or increase dumbell weight.
But when it comes to abdominals, most conventional exercises are bodyweight only. The low cable pullins give us an opportunity to increase “load under tension” thus stimulating growth in our abdominal muscles that are otherwise unachievable with bodyweight exercises.
Disclaimer – I’m extremely biased when it comes to this exercise. I currently perform these twice a week, 3 sets consisting of 25-30 reps…and when I come home and check myself out in the mirror, wishfully hoping for a “fitness model” sixpack…my abs are popping out.
Personally, I’ve seen more “fast results” in terms of definition of my abs using this exercise than any other single abdominal workout. With that being said, when it comes to attaining a sixpack (or any muscle for that matter), only fools rely on a single workout.
So for the love of all things muscular, remember to use the other exercises listed in this article and don’t let my newfound, boyish ab-enthusiasm trick you into thinking this is the end-all-be-all exercise for sixpack abs.
“Enough ranting Timothy”…
Yes, indeed. Now it’s time for:
Ab Workout #5: Cable Crunch
Apart from “Good girl, Bad Girls” (Abductor/Adductor Machine), I used to think that cable crunches were the single most awkward exercise on the planet.
Olympic Athlete & Strength Trainer, Charles Poliquin, actually turned me on to this bad boys…and when Charles recommends a particular exercise, I try it.
Abdominal Exercise #5: Cable Crunch – Here’s how to do them:
1. First, begin by selecting your weight – you’ll find out that you can do significantly more than you first envisioned…which is cool and should make you feel good…no, really. It should.
2. Next, with your knees on the floor, grab the rope and pull it down so that the insides of your wrists are flush against the back of your head. (You may have to initiate a crunch to achieve this position, that is perfectly fine).
3. Then, keeping your feet and knees firmly planted on the ground, begin to perform a crunch. Focus on driving your elbows inward, so that they touch your thighs.
4. Finally, after your elbows have touched your thighs, retract the crunch and return to the starting position by driving upwards with the back of your head. I like to retract as far as I can (without the cable losing tension)which essentially means the top of my head is pointing to the ceiling.
Ab Workout Video #5: Cable Crunch
Benefit: Similar to the Ab Workout #4 (Low Cable Pullins), the Cable Crunch adds a weighted resistance component to ab exercises, of which, I am a huge proponent. However, the real benefit lies in the constant tension (flexion) of your ab muscles throughout this exercise combined with the deep crunch you are able to achieve by driving your elbows and tucking underneath yourself.
Next up is another all-time favorite…And one that my former trainer used to torture me with. So like any good man would do, I’m going to help you torture your ab muscles:
Ab Workout #6: Russian Twists with a Medicine Ball
I’ve even gone so far as to rename this next variation as “Tim Twists” because of their uniqueness and their ability to sculpt and define the upper region of your abdominals (rectus abdominis).
Abdominal Exercise #6: Russian Twists (‘Tim Twist’ Variation) Here’s how to do them:
1. Grab a medicine ball (6-12lbs) and place it on the ground directly to your right.
2. Sitting on the ground, cross your feet and lift your legs in the air, bending your knees slightly.
3. Grab the medicine ball with both hands and move it across your body and touch the ground on your opposite side hip.
4. Next, bring the ball above your head (arms fully extended).
5. Finally, touch ground with the ball on your right side.
Benefit: Russian twists work your internal and external obliques; helping to destroy those pesky love handles. The “lift” in this Russian twist variation also helps to build and sculpt the upper portion of your abdominals (rectus abdominis). This exercise is also phenomenal in terms of helping boost rotational mobility and deep core strength – helping to put an extra “pep” in your step.
Ab Workout #7: Seated Leg Tucks
This ab workout is also known as leg pull ins and were a “pre-competition” exercise used by Arnold Schartzennegar.
Abdominal Exercise #7: Seated Leg Tucks – Here’s how to do them:
1. Begin by sitting in the middle of a bench with your legs stretched out in front of you. They should be slightly below parallel while your arms are to the side, holding the bench. Lean your torso back by about 45º degrees. This will be your starting position.
2. Exhale and bring your knees towards your chest, while also moving your torso towards your knees. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause.
3. Finally, inhale and return to the starting position.
Ab Workout Video #7: Seated Leg Tucks
You can also perform this exercise while seated on the floor with your hands to your side.
Benefit: Seated leg tucks are a bodyweight isolation exercise that can be done from anywhere and are great for beginners who are just getting started and also for more advanced folks who are looking for another efficient ab workout to sculpt and define their stomach.
Ab Workout #8: Bicycle Kicks
If you were going to choose the top at home ab workout to tone and build your lower abs, bicycle kicks should be in your list.
Ab Workout #8: Bicycle Kicks – Here’s how to do them:
1. Begin by lying on your back on a mat or padded carpet with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Next, put both hands behind your head and bring your right elbow over to your left knee, and then bring your left elbow over to your right knee. Your legs will move as if you were pedaling a bicycle while you twist your torso, touching your elbows to the opposite side knee.
3. Remember, you will touch the inside of your right elbow to your left knee. Keep your hands interlaced behind your head – without pulling your head or kneck upwards. Don’t Cheat Yourself! Ensure that you each repetition includes the full extension of each leg
Ab Workout Video #8: Bicycle Kicks
Benefit: The American Council on Exercise (AOE) rates bicycle kicks as the #1 exercise that generates the most muscle activity in your abs. I’ll break down the importance of activating different types of muscle fibers and muscle activity in another article but for today’s learnings – understand that more muscle activity = more tension = more overall growth .
But! But! But! Yes, to the one guy out there that wants to fight me on this – with proper rest and recovery, an increase in tension is correlated with an increase in muscle growth.
It’s okay:) I’m a nerd too – I respect sticklers…But this is my house
and we’ve still got two ab workouts to cover.
Ab Workout #9: Leg Lifts
If you’ve ever seen a Navy Seal documentary, you’ve seen this classic workout where candidates lie on their backs, while being sprayed with a hose and perform an endless number of leg lift repetitions.
I have painful memories, dating back to high school of my coach hammering us with timed leg lift circuits. It was here where I learned that when someone says two minutes, it really means 5 minutes.
Abdominal Exercise #9: Leg Lifts – Here’s how to do them:
1. Start out by lying on your back on the ground.
2. Hands by your side, keeping your knees locked, lift your legs as high
as you can in to the air until you get to about 60º degrees.
3. Bring your legs back down about 1 inch off the ground and lift again to 60º degrees.
For beginners, if you find yourself struggling to bring your legs to 60º degrees you have two alternatives.
a) Lift to your legs the next highest altitude achievable
b) Perform flutter kicks by lifting one foot about 4 inches, bringing it back down and then lifting your opposite foot up. The same movement as your legs do when you’re swimming.
Ab Workout Video #9: Leg Raises
Benefit: If you’re not in your “athletic prime” – the largest health benefit for you here (apart from six-pack definition) is boosting your trunk flexibility. Why is trunk flexibility important? Boosting trunk flexibility means that you have an easier time rotating your hips and you are able to change direction faster and more efficiently. Overall, leg lifts and improved core strength result in improved balance and physical stability.
But what about the “Beach Body” benefits?
Leg lifts will help you build well-defined lower abs (tendinous inscriptions). Plain and simple.
Drum roll please…#10 on our list of Top 10 Ab Workouts For Men is:
Ab Workout #10: Toe Touches
Number 10 on our list is the abdominal toe touch. It’s an exercise that can be done at home and without any equipment plus it’s age and experience friendly. But more importantly, it’s very effective in building your upper abs.
Abdominal Exercise #10: Toe Touches – Here’s how to do them:
1. You’re going to start by lying flat on your back. Bring your legs to about 90º degrees, bending your knees slightly.
2. Next, you’re going to drive your shoulder blades forward, until your hands touch your toes.
3. Keep your arms straight at all times and flex your core as you reach for your toes.
Ab Workout Video #10: Toe Touches
Benefit: Rather than doing a random exercise, you are spot targeting your upper abs. Upper abs for many folks are the region to first “pop through” which increases your momentum and the odds that you’ll stick with your fitness goals.
While that may seem like “nu nu nah nah” psychology – it’s helped tens of thousands of men around the world follow through on their workouts and get the ripped six-pack abs of their dreams.
In terms of physical aesthetics and appearance, mixing in upper abdominal exercises will allow you to build proportioned definition so that you aren’t the guy who looks like he started an ab program and never finished.
I wish I could tell you to do 100 crunches per day for 28 days and you’ll have six-pack abs that would make Arnold Schwartzneggar jealous and the women swoon. But the reality is, you need to target each specific region if you want to get a six-pack fast.
It’s a total package kind of thing, and you need to work on your upper, middle and lower abs if you want to get results. Sure, implementing a few of them is better than none, but the goal is to make your abs “pop”, build a strong core and make your six-pack look so damn good that your friends and women start asking you for fitness advice. Plus – destroying your belly fat and being in good shape never hurt anyone either.