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Top 5 Six-Pack Ab Exercises

When it comes to your health and fitness goals, there’s a good chance that ‘getting a six pack’ ranks somewhere up in the top five. Most people, regardless of whether their main goal is fat loss or muscle building, covet a slim and toned abdominal region. For good reason too – the appearance of a fit pair of abs demonstrates that you are someone who knows what they are doing in the gym and has a high level of commitment. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be sporting that type of middle. There are a few genetically blessed individuals who manage to maintain a six pack despite never working out or watching what they eat, but they are few and far in between. For most of us, it takes hours of hard work along with rigidity on our diets to strip off that layer of fat and reveal those muscles.

This said, not all exercises are created equally. While no six-pack ab exercise is going to help you ‘see’ your six pack (if there is a layer of fat covering it, you’ve got to remove that layer first), doing the right six pack-ab exercises will help you develop a stronger core and make sure the muscles themselves are looking their best.

Here are the top five six-pack ab exercises that you should focus on.

The Plank

The plank is a well-known exercise that can be performed with many different variations. The standard plank is performed on a simple mat or carpet area with elbows and fists about shoulder width apart while the feet are directly beneath you, also about shoulder width apart.

This movement is really going to call the entire abdominal region into action, including the obliques and lower back. It will also work the shoulder and chest muscles as well since they will be used to help hold the body in the position and be used for stabilization support.

The one thing to really watch when performing the plank is that your body does not begin to drop down causing you to move from the flat horizontal position to more of a shallow ‘U’. Likewise, don’t let the back begin to rise up, forming an inverse ‘V’. As soon as you move out of the proper position, stop the exercise, rest, and resume again when you are able to. You’re better off performing the hold for thirty seconds using the right position than holding for one minute using the incorrect position.

Decline Weighted Sit-Ups

The second exercise that is great for building a stronger core is decline-weighted sit-ups. The one thing to keep in mind with these is that you likely don’t want to perform them if you are looking to maintain a very thin looking waist as they could cause muscle hypertrophy, which essentially makes the muscles grow in size.
Doing weighted work though will enhance the build of the muscles, so if you’re looking to bring out greater definition when you do lose the body fat, this is a good way to go.

Plus, since weighted work is typically more intense than non-weighted work, you will also see a greater metabolic increase after weighted sit-ups compared to regular sit-ups. You can compensate for this metabolic difference, however, through other exercises if you do choose to not include weighted-ab work.

With weighted sit-ups you need to really focus on contracting the ab muscles and not calling the hip flexors into play. This is a mistake that many individuals make and will really take the stress off the abs entirely. You will likely be able to tell if you are making this error because after doing the decline weighted-ab work you will find you are tight in your hip flexors the next day. Since these are not overly strong muscles to begin with, they will get sore quite easily even with a small amount of stimulation.

The Bicycle

The bicycle exercise is another one that can be performed with weight or without and stimulates the entire abdominal region as well, particularly the oblique muscles. The nice aspect of this exercise is that when done right, it’s going to cover a larger range of motion than traditional sit-ups, really working the muscle fibers to a greater extent.

The common mistake that individuals make when performing this movement is they will let momentum carry them through the motion, or will not keep their legs in the proper, lower position. This is usually indicative of a lack of strength and not being able to hold the legs ups while moving the upper body. When this occurs consider placing the legs up on a low step and just performing the upper body motion until you are more comfortable. Then add in the legs when you are ready.

Ab Wheel Roll-Outs

If you can get your hands on an ab wheel, this exercise is potentially one of the most intense movements to perform for the abs. Since you virtually have no solid base of support as you roll outwards, it’s going to be all up to your abs to help you maintain control over the body and complete the motion.

The nice thing about this movement is that you can simply adjust how far you roll the ball out in order to match your skill and strength level. It’s very rare to find someone who can roll the entire way down right off the start, so this exercise allows for lots of room to progress as time passes.

You need to maintain a straight back alignment position with the spine, not hunching over as you move the body downwards. As soon as you move out of proper spinal alignment you are going to place a very large amount of stress on the lower back, which could contribute to serious back problems down the road. If you are ever in doubt of how far to go down, always err on the side of caution because a well-controlled movement, even if you aren’t rolling out very far, will still provide very good results for strengthening the abs.


Finally, this last exercise is going to throw a curveball at most people since it’s not even an ‘ab exercise’ per se. But, the squat is still one of the best movements to perform for six -pack abs.

The first reason why this movement is included is because when you are squatting heavy, you are going to be really working the abs as dynamic stabilizers as you move down and up back again. If your abs are not contracting, you’re not going to be able to squat effectively, so never doubt that they are in fact working.

Secondly, because the squat works such a high number of muscle fibers at once, it will really ramp up your metabolic rate. It is this increase that is going to help you burn fat all day long, and as we touched upon in the introduction, removing that layer of fat is vital in order to see your six-pack abs. While ab work may strengthen your abs, strengthening and seeing are two completely different things. Squats will give you the best of both worlds by providing strengthening and fat-loss benefits.

So, be sure you implement at least a few of these movements into your ab program for top level results. You don’t need to do them all every workout; two or three different exercises performed correctly should be enough to fully strengthen the abdominals and get good results. Just like any other muscle group, they can be overworked and when this happens, they often lose their definition and don’t look as good. Be sure to work them hard, and then back off and give them time to rest. That is what will get you the best results in the long run.

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