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The Best Ab Workout For A Six-Pack

The routine is composed of 7 abdominal exercises carefully chosen to hit both the upper and lower abs. Use them to get a ripped core!

How do you train your abs? You can make your ab training long and complicated, like many people do, but in my book, the best ab workout is the one you'll do over and over again.

Yes, it's true that that abs are earned in the kitchen, but if a six-pack is your goal, it's also important to pick the right ab workout for the job.

This routine is composed of seven abdominal exercises carefully chosen to work both the upper and lower abs. Hit it hard three times a week, along with a healthy diet, some lifting, and the right amount of cardio, and you'll see your abs soon enough.

Magnificent 7 Ab Circuit
3 rounds, resting as little as possible between movements and 1-2 minutes between rounds

1

Sit-Up

15-20 reps or to failure
Sit-Up Sit-Up

Leg Raise

15-20 reps or to failure
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise

Jackknife Sit-Up

15-20 reps or to failure
Jackknife Sit-Up Jackknife Sit-Up

Knee Pull-In

15-20 reps or to failure
Flat Bench Leg Pull-In Flat Bench Leg Pull-In

Toe Toucher

15-20 reps or to failure
Toe Touchers Toe Touchers

Crunch

15-20 reps or to failure
Crunches Crunches

Reverse Crunch

15-20 reps or to failure
Reverse Crunch Reverse Crunch


How to Do This Core Routine

This is a fairly advanced ab routine, so how you do it matters.

Beginners are better off just performing three exercises out of the seven for just two sets each of as many reps as possible, with a minute of rest in between sets. From there on, build up endurance by adding exercises and sets and cutting back on rest periods.

A great goal is to be able at the end of 12 weeks to do the seven exercises in a big circuit all at once, rest a minute or two, and repeat it two more times.

As you build up to that, feel free to break up the routine in different ways. For instance, I like to perform supersets like this:

  • Repeat 3 times:
  • Exercise 1 and 2, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 3 and 4, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 5 and 6, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 7, rest 60 sec.

For each of those sets, perform each set to momentary muscle failure, or until you can't easily do another rep.

You will note that no direct oblique work is present. The reason for that is the fact that in my experience, direct oblique work only leads to a wider waistline. Besides, obliques get enough stimulation from exercises like squats, deadlifts, and other full-body weight training.

When to Work Your Abs

For most people, performing this routine a minimum of 3 days per week will be plenty. An advanced bodybuilder could do it nearly daily.

Personally, I like doing abs and cardio first thing in the morning and weight training in the afternoon. That way, I get to spike up my metabolism twice a day.

If you'd rather do everything in one session, I would recommend either performing the ab routine as a warm-up for your weight training or afterward if you're going to be doing heavy lifting like squats or deadlifts. Then perform your cardio last.

How to Make This Ab Routine Easier or Harder

If you cannot do an exercise, due to lower-back injuries for instance, feel free to substitute it for an exercise that does not bother your back.

If, on the other hand, you have a healthy lower back and would like to add extra mass to your abs, I would just do the routine three times a week and use some resistance in the exercises, such as holding a small plate or dumbbell.

How to Perform the Exercises

Exercise 1: Sit-up

Primary Target: Upper Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your legs secured under a piece of heavy furniture or bench.
  2. Place your hands by your chest.
  3. Flexing your abdominals, raise your torso until you are in nearly a sitting position.
  4. Retaining tension on the abs, lower your torso to the beginning position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 2: Leg raise

Primary Target: Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands at your sides by the floor for support.
  3. Flexing your lower abdominals, raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Retaining tension on the abs, lower your legs to the beginning position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to let your legs drop on the negative portion of the movement.)

Exercise 3: Jackknife sit-up

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands at your sides by the floor for support.
  3. Flexing your lower abdominals, raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. At this time, raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your back from the floor.
  5. Maintaining tension on the abs, lower your legs to the beginning position and then bring your torso to the starting position as well. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 4: Knee-in

Primary Target: Lower Abs

  1. Sit on the floor (or on the edge of a chair or exercise bench) with your legs extended in front of you and your hands holding on to the sides for support.
  2. Keeping your knees together, pull your knees in towards your chest until you can go no farther.
  3. Keeping the tension on your lower ab muscles, return to the start position and repeat the movement until you have completed your set.

Exercise 5: Toe-Toucher

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Sit on the floor (or on the edge of a chair or exercise bench) with your legs extended in front of you and your hands holding on to the sides for support.
  2. Simultaneously bring your legs up as far as possible while at the same time bringing your torso towards them.
  3. Return to the start position and repeat the movement until you have completed your set. (Note: This is a modified version of a V-Up. In a true V-Up, your starting position is lying down on the floor and bringing yourself up with no arm support.)

Exercise 6: Crunch

Primary Target: Upper Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs in front of you bent at the knees.
  2. Place your hands by your chest.
  3. At this time, raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your back from the floor.
  4. Retaining tension on the abs, bring your torso to the starting position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 7: Reverse Crunch

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands at your sides by the floor for support.
  3. Slowly bend your legs at the knees bringing them towards your chest.
  4. Once the knees are by your chest, raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your back from the floor.
  5. Return your legs to the starting position and bring your torso back to the floor.