If you're someone who wants stand-out abs, sure, there's some work you need to do in the kitchen. But, you're also definitely going to want to make good use of metabolic training.

Metabolic training involves intense combinations of traditional strength-based exercises and high-rep programming that will give you a serious cardiovascular challenge. You do the exercises one after another with short rest periods in between, giving you an all-around intense workout that will shed fat, improve your cardio conditioning, and work every muscle in your body in the process.

The workouts below take those benefits one step further by adding more core exercises to add a little growth stimulus to the crucial muscles of the obliques and rectus abdominis. Sure, you engage the core in just about every standing exercise you do. But, in these metabolic workouts, you'll be zeroing in on those moves that emphasize your visible ab muscles.

You get leaner abs through a combination of building up those muscles, and losing body fat so the definition you're building shows through. These workouts will do both in 30 minutes or less, so there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to fit it into your busy day.

1. Killer Crunch Circuit

This circuit is a great option if you're at the beginner to intermediate level, and will work both your strength and endurance at the same time. It's also a great circuit to perform at home, since all you need is a set of dumbbells and an exercise ball.

Perform each exercise in order. Aim for 20 reps of each one before going on to the next. Once all the exercises are finished, rest for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit a second time through. Go for a third time if you're up to it.

5 Full-Body Circuits To Carve Out Six-Pack Abs
Killer Crunch Circuit
1
Circuit: Perform 1-3 Rounds
Note: Rest as little as possible between exercises and 1 min. between rounds.
Exercise Ball Crunch
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps
Bodyweight Lunge
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps per leg
Mountain Climbers
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps per side
Exercise Ball Pull-In
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps
Single Leg Deadlift
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps per leg
Burpee
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps
Air Bike
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps per side
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps, on flat bench or ground
Bosu Ball Push-Up
1-3 sets, 15-20 reps (using medicine ball or exercise ball if no BOSU ball is available)

2. One Side at a Time

Sometimes the best way to work the abs is to focus on balance. That might sound counterintuitive, but doing exercises that put your body off balance can dramatically increase overall core recruitment, which can lead to a stronger mid-section. The following workout uses this principle, using stabilization-focused movements that work all the main areas of your body, including your core.

Perform each exercise for the reps indicated. Once each exercise is done, rest for 30 seconds before moving on. Repeat the circuit four times through.

5 Full-Body Circuits To Carve Out Six-Pack Abs
One Side At A Time
1
Circuit: Perform 4 Rounds
Note: Rest 30 sec. between exercises and 60-90 sec. between rounds.
Split Squats
4 sets, 15 reps per leg
Single Leg Deadlift
4 sets, 15 reps per leg
Standing Military Press
4 sets, 15 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
4 sets, 15 reps
Side Lateral Raise
perform on left leg
4 sets, 15 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise
perform on right leg
4 sets, 15 reps
Barbell Step Ups
Or Dumbbells
4 sets, 10 reps per leg
Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy
Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy
BCAA Powder with Natural Energizers for Focus and Recovery!
3. Mountain Climber Madness

Mountain climbers are an excellent cardio exercise that will target your abs if you focus on using your core to help drive your feet in toward your body with each step. They're also great for burning calories and for working your upper body, as well.

For this circuit, alternate between mountain climbers and bodyweight-based ab moves to really give your core a workout.

5 Full-Body Circuits To Carve Out Six-Pack Abs
Mountain Climber Madness
Note: Rest as little as possible between exercises.
1
Circuit: Perform 1 Round
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 25 reps
Plank
1 set, 1 minute
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 30 reps
Bosu Ball Push-Up
1 set, 20 reps (using medicine ball or exercise ball if no BOSU ball is available)
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 35 reps
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
on flat bench or ground
1 set, 15 reps
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 40 reps
Side Bridge
1 set, 1 minute per side
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 35 reps
Air Bike
1 set, 25 reps per side
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 30 reps
Jackknife Sit-Up
1 set, 20 reps
Mountain Climbers
1 set, 25 reps
4. Legs On Fire

Another great way to work your core is to train your legs. Lower body training can be incredibly intense since it works so many large muscle groups at once to burn calories fast. Your core will be engaged in every single lower-body exercise you do while standing.

This lower-body metabolic circuit might be one of the hardest you'll ever face, but rest assured, you're earning results. Move through each triset, doing one exercise after the next. Once all three exercises are completed, rest for two minutes before repeating again two more times.

After each triset is done three times, move on to the next.

5 Full-Body Circuits To Carve Out Six-Pack Abs
Legs On Fire
1
Triset 1
3 Sets, Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets
Barbell Squat
3 sets, 20 reps
Bodyweight Squat
3 sets, 20 reps
Bodyweight Walking Lunge
3 sets, 15 reps per leg
2
Triset 2
3 Sets, Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets
Lying Leg Curls
alt: perform with feet on exercise ball
3 sets, 15 reps
Romanian Deadlift
Barbell or Dumbbell
3 sets, 15 reps
Reverse Hyperextension
alt: hyperextension or ball hyperextension
3 sets, 15 reps
3
Triset 3
3 Sets, Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets
Split Squat with Dumbbells
3 sets, 15 reps per leg
Barbell Step Ups
or Dumbbells
3 sets, 15 reps
Step-up with Knee Raise
3 sets, 15 reps (no added weight)
5. Reps for Time

A final, brutal way you can structure your metabolic circuit is by attempting to reach a number of reps in a given time period. Your mission is to beat each rep level that you accomplished the workout before. By doing so, you help increase your fitness and up the intensity of the workout overall.

Perform each of these exercises for one minute. Count your reps and track them in a journal. This workout lasts only 10 minutes, but it should be a very intense 10 minutes. If you need to rest to maintain good form during each exercise, do so. As you become more advanced, you can try to perform two rounds instead of one.

Between sets, rest only as long as necessary to set up the next exercise.

Note that for any weighted exercise, you should be using a low amount of weight. Try using around 40-50 percent of the weight you usually use for your 5-rep sets.

5 Full-Body Circuits To Carve Out Six-Pack Abs
Reps For Time
1
Circuit
1-2 Rounds
Barbell Squat
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Bent Over Barbell Row
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Hanging Leg Raise
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Pushups
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Plie Dumbbell Squat
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Plank
1 set, 1 minute
Arnold Dumbbell Press
1 set, max reps in 1 minute
Decline Oblique Crunch
1 set, max reps in 1 minute

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

View all articles by this author

Ab Workout Abs