Training

The Best Barbell Exercises For Abs

The Best Barbell Exercises For Abs

Ab exercises are important for anyone who wants to build a solid foundation. You use your core in everything you do and so it makes sense to develop it to be a strength. The barbell is a versatile piece of equipment and you may be reading this because you have a home gym with limited equipment, you work out in a crowded gym where you can only really get one piece of equipment at a time or because you just want to know what cool exercises you can do with one. Here are my top barbell ab exercises.


Barbell Exercises For Abs

✓ Barbell Roll Out

Put a round plate each side of the barbell. The weight doesn’t matter, as long as each plate is the same diameter, so the bar is level. Kneel with the bar in front of you place your hands shoulder width apart on the bar and roll forward keeping your arms locked and your back strong until you are as close to the floor as possible and then tense your abs to pull yourself back to your starting position. Make sure your lower back does not cave in, if you need to start in a slightly rounded position to make sure this does not happen then do so.

✓ Straight Arm Bus Driver

Position one end of the barbell in a corner or a secure area on the floor, pick up the other end of the barbell (you can add a plate to this end also), hold the bar or plate and twist slow and controlled all the way to your left keeping your hips pointing straight forward and then twist all the way to the right. You want your arms slightly bent, but locked and the force to move the bar should be coming directly from your core.

landmine exercise

✓ Barbell Pull-Over

This may not be seem like an all out ab exercise, but it definitely works your abs whilst you work other areas. Take a barbell with desired weight in your hands, position yourself with your shoulder blades on a bench and your feet planted on the floor at the side of the bench, sink your hips and stretch the barbell behind your head, keep your arms slightly bent, but locked and pull the barbell back towards your torso. With each repetition aim to stretch as far over your head as possible while keeping your hips down and feel the stretch of your serratus anterior.

✓ Single Arm Barbell Landmine Press

Similar to the bus drivers plant one end of the barbell in a corner or a secure area then take the bar in on hand and press it up in the air, I advise taking the other hand and holding it against your abs so you can feel yourself bracing as you press the bar up each time. For this variation do not squat down or push with the legs in any way, use your abs to control the weight on the way down and then press back to the top, switch arms and repeat.

✓ Barbell Side Bend 

Take a barbell on your back as if you are going to back squat then bend to the side as if you are trying to get the barbell to a vertical position and then back to the center. This is challenging and if you plan on using plates make sure you secure them with collars.

✓ Zercher Squat

Position your hands together in front of you and form a triangle with your arms and torso, pick up the barbell in your elbow joins and then perform a squat holding the bar there in front of you. These are a fantastic exercise to really test your overall core strength and a welcome change up in regards to squatting.

zercher squat


Take Home Message

There are some great exercises to attempt with just a barbell to light up your core. Endless crunches and ab machines are fine but you don’t need fancy equipment to get a great ab session in, the great thing is you can add in most of these during or just after some of your other compound lifts so you save time in the gym and get your core work done as you go. So get in the gym and grab a barbell to push your core strength to new heights.

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Kevin Dickson

Kevin Dickson

Writer and expert


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