With the start of a new year you may want to shed some body fat and finally get into the best shape of your life. Whether it’s to look good for your significant other or maybe just to get into a healthier lifestyle, losing that stubborn belly fat and showing of your abs is the ultimate sign of a fit body. Although abs are definitely made in the kitchen by what you eat, these exercises can help to fully develop your abdominals/obliques to give you an incredible midsection.
Exercise #1: High Cable Pulley Crunch
The crunch is one of the staple movements when trying to build a six pack because of the limited range of motion and constant tension it puts on your upper to middle abs. Always make sure you’re using your core to pull the weight and not your torso, arms or any other body part.
- Set up pulley cable machine as high as the attachment will allow with a rope attachment
- Face away from the machine and place each side of the rope on either side of your neck
- Crunch the weight down while breathing out and pause and squeeze at the bottom then return to the top
Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15
Top Tip: Don’t worry about keeping a flat back on these like you normally would a squat or deadlift. The purpose of the movement is to contract the muscle bellies as efficiently as possible and to do so you must minimize the movement by crunching straight down with rounded back.
Exercise #2: Decline Crunch
To work on the lower portion of your abs, hop on a decline bench in your gym or use a flat bench with a platform underneath one side. This will help build your entire core but with a primary focus on the lower abs. Depending on your flexibility and strength, the advanced version of this movement is done with your legs straight throughout the movement and the modified has your legs slightly bent- whatever works for you.
- Set up decline bench and lay with head at top of the decline and feet resting on the ground
- Brace yourself by holding onto pad behind you and engage your core while lifting legs
- Pull your legs all the way up to 90 degrees or even a little past that, squeeze and contract, then lower them back down slowly
Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15
Exercise #3: Ab Wheel Rollouts
One of the hardest ab workouts around is the ab wheel rollout. With the enormous amount of strain it puts on your midsection the further you roll out, only you can control how you want it to be worked. Put yourself to the test and go to absolute failure on these to where at the end on your final rep, you can’t roll back in. These work the top, middle and lower portions of the abs so get ready for a deep burn throughout your entire stomach.
- Put a pad on the ground and rest knees on it with wheel out in front of you
- With a hand on each side of the wheel, engage your core and slowly lower and roll yourself out to feel as deep as stretch as you can handle
- Squeeze your stomach muscles and pull yourself back to the starting position but remembering to keep constant tension throughout the movement
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12 (absolute failure on last rep of each set)
Top Tip: To use some added resistance; instead of the ab wheel you can also use a barbell with plates on each side that will roll smoothly.
Exercise #4: Around the Worlds
These are an ultimate challenge on this list and are not for the beginner in the gym either. These take incredible core strength to be able to work the abs correctly and not your hip flexors. Once mastered though, this is one of the greatest ab exercises that can be performed by hitting all areas of stomach.
- Place hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart on a pull-up bar
- Engage your core while legs are hanging at the bottom and move legs in an arcing motion from the ground all the way up to bar and then back down on the other side
- Repeat going back the other way remembering to keep core engaged and blowing out all your air when legs are being raised and breathing in when lowering them
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12
Ab training is something a lot of people are indifferent about – either thinking that you can just work them out and get results or that they are trained enough through other compound movements. To really develop a great set of abs your diet has to be the number one priority followed by direct training on them a couple times per week coupled with ample cardio.
Don’t be discouraged when you don’t have a shimmering six-pack after the first week. Keep at it and stick to your diet and your plan and you’ll be chomping at the bit to take your shirt off this spring.