Updated: Mar 7
Almost everybody wants to have 6 pack abs. Usually they're a great sign of physical fitness and are pretty hard to obtain for most people.
The abs are one of the most important muscle groups to have in check for men wanting to look good and look physically strong.
However while there is so much craze around the abs, many people do not know the exercises that they should be doing, nor do they know the more important factors that they have to take into consideration during their journey towards that shredded 6 pack.
We're here to address that in this post, giving you the 5 best exercises you can do for your abs, as well as the other measures that you have to think about when you're trying to get there!
First of All: You Have to Know This!
We have to start this post by saying that no amount of crunches or planking is going to get your abs visible. If you're currently working towards getting a shredded core and you're doing this by doing a ton of ab exercises everyday, you're doing it wrong.
You see, everybody actually has abs. Everybody naturally has abs lying underneath the fat. For most people this layer of fat is going to be too thick for the abs to be visible. And since the abs are lying underneath the fat, no amount of ab exercises is going to make them visible.
If you want to show them off, you have to be at a low enough body fat percentage. And it's also been scientifically proven that you can't spot reduce fat either. By this, we mean you can't specifically exercise a certain body part and expect to lose fat in that area.
Take the quote from this study conducted by Rodrigo Ramírez-Campillo for example. "In conclusion, the training program was effective in reducing fat mass, but this reduction was not achieved in the trained body segment."
This supports the idea that you cannot spot reduce fat, and instead you have to burn fat across the entire body, and eventually you'll lose fat in your target area.
And how do you do this?
You'll need to be in a caloric deficit. This is going to be the only way that you can lose weight and burn fat. You need to be burning more energy throughout the day than you're eating. This is the only way that you're going to be able to burn fat.
If you're not sure what a calorie is, it's basically the amount of energy that an item of food or drink carries. So when you eat a burger that contains 400 calories, you're eating 400 calories worth of energy. Your body will then use and burn that energy for everyday activity and movement such as breathing, walking, etc.
And any excess calories that we eat (over what we expended) will be stored as fat for future energy use.
In order for us to lose weight, we have to consistently stay in a caloric deficit, and force our bodies to use the fat stored on our body as energy instead of the food and drink that we consume. This does not mean that you shouldn't eat and drink. That's incredibly unhealthy.
But you do need to be burning more than you're eating. Usually just a deficit of 300-500 calories is going to be sufficient and a good place to start.
If you keep this up for weeks and months (yes, it does take a while for most people depending on where you start), you'll eventually have visible abs. It's not about how many ab exercises you're doing, but instead it's about how much you're eating.
Your diet and caloric intake is far more important than any number of crunches ever will be if we're talking about revealing your six pack.
Doing additional exercise can help to develop the size and thickness of your abs, which may help to get the visible at a slightly higher body fat percentage. It'll also help to increase your core strength/endurance, and help to develop the look of them once you do get to a low enough body fat level.
However, your diet still does need to be in check. Otherwise you'll never reach your goal.
Hopefully that all makes sense.
The key takeaway is that you need to be watching how much you're eating and losing weight gradually if you want to reveal your abs. No amount of ab exercises alone is going to get your abs to show.
Now that you understand the measures you actually need to be taking to get your abs showing, we can get into the 5 best ab exercises you can to do develop the look and strength of your abs!
The 5 Best Ab Exercises to Build an Iron Core
We're starting with the most basic movement here. Almost everyone knows what a plank is.
Its a great exercise that you can use to work all the muscles of the abs at once. Holding the weight of your body against gravity is no easy task, and holding a bodyweight plank for even just 2 minutes is going to be pretty challenging for most people.
It's even better if you can do these weighted!
How to perform the plank:
Assume a high plank position like you would be at the top of a push up
Keeping your body in a straight line, bend your arms and rest on your elbows instead of your hands. Feet should remain in the same place.
Your shoulders should be in line with your elbows. Adjust as needed.
Simply keep your body in a straight line and hold yourself in that position for as long as you can. Try not to allow your hips to rise or sag. This is going to make the exercise easier.
Check out the video below by Scott Herman below to see a demonstration!
Ab Wheel Rollouts
The ab wheel is another ab exercise that's also great for working the entire abs. And if you do this with an unstable ab wheel, you can actually work the obliques to quite a large degree as well.
The ab wheel is tougher than the plank, and most people actually won't be able to do the proper movement. Most people will have to start on their knees, as this is a pretty tough exercise that requires a lot of ab strength and stability.
Alternatively, if you haven't got an ab wheel a barbell is going to do the trick as well. You just won't be able to work your obliques as much.
To do the ab wheel rollout:
Grab onto the handles of the ab wheel or grab the barbell with a double overhand grip shoulder width apart.
Start with your feet on the ground and the wheel on the ground in front of you.
Fix your body into a straight line and roll the wheel or barbell out until you're in am extended plank position, holding yourself up from falling down.
Roll the wheel back in and repeat.
If this is too difficult you can do them on your knees and slowly build up your strength.
See the video demonstration below by Pike Fitness below!
Hanging Leg Raises
The hanging leg raise is a great exercise that you can do with very minimal equipment, and is tough enough to have most people fail in under 20 reps.
All you need is a pull up bar, or really any place that you can comfortably grip onto and hang from.
To do them:
Hang from a bar, completely relaxed.
Keeping your legs as straight as possible, raise them up out in front of you by thinking about using your abs.
Try not to swing too much.
Lower your legs and repeat.
If this is too difficult, you can perform knee raises instead.
Simply bend your knees and keep your legs close to you, then raise them the exact same way.
Check out Concurrent Athletics' video below to see what this looks like!
The Russian twist is a great movement that you can use to develop your obliques and help to further build up the overall look of your midsection.
You can do these with just your bodyweight or holding a small weight such as a weight plate, a dumbbell or a kettlebell.
To perform the Russian twist:
Sit on the ground with your feet in front of you.
Bend your legs slightly and rock back onto your glutes until you're holding your bodyweight. Your body should look somewhat like a 'v'.
Keeping your core tight, twists from side to side and either touch the ground with your hands or with the weight you're holding.
Go from side to side for desired reps.
Check out the video below by Project Drop to see what this looks like!
Mountain climbers are a great exercise that you can use to really finish off the abs and get a good burn on them, when you're already tired.
They're a great addition to bodyweight HIIT workouts since they work quite a lot of muscles at once, and are definitely a good choice of exercise for the core.
To do them:
Assume a high plank position like you you be at the top of a push up.
Keeping your body straight and your shoulders over your hands, kick your legs up forward, sort of like you would do if you were climbing up a mountain.
Alternate from leg to leg and make sure you're bringing your knees as close to your chest as you can. This is the best range of motion.
Keep the intensity high.
Check out the video below by Performance U to see what this looks like!
Wrapping It Up
Getting a shredded six pack requires different measures and steps to what most people think. The main thing that you have to remember is to keep your diet in check, and not waste your time doing endless crunches and sit ups.
The exercises we have given you will only help to develop the look of them and their strength. These exercises alone will not get your abs visible.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking otherwise, it's just not how it works.
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