Do you do abs workouts or focus on getting lean? Squats or bench press? Dips or pull-ups? There are a million different ab workouts for men, each promising to give you the secret to six-pack abdominals, but how do you know which process is right for you?
Regardless of whether you are just getting into fitness for the first time or you are a certified gym junkie, ab workouts and exercises have long been a touchy subject. Sure, we know the basic principle behind visible abs isn’t complicated, but somewhere between cutting out carbs and hitting the gym, we get a little lost on our journey to that often-elusive washboard midsection. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the simple fact is this; no matter how hard you push yourself, no matter how bulging your biceps are or how heavy you can lift, your overall physique will always be judged on how visible your abdominal muscles are.
But can the best ab workouts really help?
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What are Your Abs?
Put simply, your abs are some of the most important muscles in your body. Located on the midsection, this muscle group works to support the trunk, allowing for movement whilst also holding organs in place by regulating internal abdominal pressure.
Here is a list of 10 ab exercises to add to your best ab workouts.
1. Slow Hanging Leg Raises
An exercise that targets the rectus abdominis, hip flexors and external obliques, Slow Hanging Leg Raises are a great introduction to ab exercises and isolation techniques. To perform Slow Hanging Leg Raises effectively;
- Stand beneath a bar, reaching up and clutching it overhand with both hands.
- Maintaining a straight back, inhale as you engage your abdominal muscles.
- Lift your legs by bending at the knees. Go no higher than your waist.
- Exhale as you lower your legs in a controlled movement until you’re back in the starting position. Remember to keep your core engaged.
Reps: 3 sets of 8-10
2. Hardstyle Plank
One of the most basic ab exercises, but one that easily makes its way into many of the best ab workouts for men, the Hardstyle Plank is a fitness staple. When you engage your core and squeeze your entire body, this ab exercise can have a massive impact. Not just a great one to add to your ab workouts, the Hardstyle Plank also targets your quads, glutes, core, back and fists. To perform a Hardstyle Plank properly;
- Keeping your elbows aligned underneath your shoulders, assume a modified push-up position lie, with your weight resting on your forearms, rather than your palms.
- Keeping your forearms parallel to one another, tense your abdominal muscle and hold the position.
Reps: 3 sets of 30 seconds
An extension of a yoga position, this complex movement involves working both sides of your body simultaneously. For this specific exercise, it pays to keep a strong focus on core engagement, while keeping a slight bend in your elbows; you don’t want to run the risk of hyperextension. To complete a Bird-Dog properly;
- Start in a tabletop position, with your shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
- Engaging your core, lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously.
- Flex your foot as you kick back, whilst keeping your palm facing in towards your body.
- At the stretch’s highest point, paise for a moment, keeping your arm and leg are at the same height as your torso
- Slowly bring the two limbs back to starting position.
- Repeat on opposite arm and leg.
Reps: 5 sets of 5
4. Hollow Extension-to-Cannonball
More difficult than it sounds, Hollow Extension-to-Cannonball is one worthy addition to the best ab workouts for men routine. The key to this ab exercise is having a contraction at both ends of the spectrum. Your neck and legs should stay off the ground the entire set, so avoid the temptation to relax and drop. To perform a Hollow Extension-to-Cannonball properly;
- Assume a cannonball-type position, hugging your knees into your chest.
- Extend your legs and arms outwards into a “hollow” position, pressing your lower back to the floor.
- Hold for five seconds before curling up again, maintaining that elevated feet and neck position.
Reps: 5 sets of 5
5. Hanging Windscreen Wipers
You may have seen guys do this at the gym and wondered what they were thinking, but it turns out the humble Hanging Windscreen Wipers is one of the best ab exercises for men. Employing a familiar hanging movement, you must resist the temptation to rotate your body. Staying controlled in your movements is key to making this exercise a worthwhile addition to your best ab workouts. To complete Hanging Windscreen Wipers effectively;
- Pulling down with your lats and engaging your shoulders, hang from an overhead bar.
- Squeeze your anterior core to bring your toes up toward the bar.
- Maintaining oblique control, move your legs side-to-side, trying to keep them together.
- Try to focus on not lowering your legs or twisting your hips.
Reps: 3 sets of 10
6. Side Plank with Elevated Foot
You may have already done the Hardstyle Plank to target your front abs, but now it’s time to focus on those obliques. By switching to the Side Plank with Elevated Foot, you can stretch those long, thin muscles, providing greater strain on that often underworked muscle group. To perform a Side Plank with Elevated Foot properly;
- Assume a side plank position with your right forearm on the floor, stabilised by keeping your right foot on the floor.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs.
- Raise your left arm and left foot off the ground.
- Hold this position.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Reps: 3 sets of 30 seconds each side
7. Dumbbell Side Bend
One of the few ab exercises that requires equipment, the Dumbbell Side Bend will target those external obliques, providing greater definition in those outer ab sections. To complete an accurate Dumbbell Side Bend;
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing inwards towards the torso.
- Keeping your back straight, engage your core, then slowly bend to the side as far as possible—but only at the waist.
- Hold at the bottom tensing your ab muscles
- Return to starting position.
- Reps: 15-20 per set
8. Swiss Ball ‘Stir the Pot’
This is one ab exercise that may make you feel like an idiot, but it will do the trick. You will need a Swiss ball and a lot of patience to get yourself sorted, but this movement will demonstrate how important your ab muscles are to stability and balance. To complete the Swiss Ball ‘Stir the Pot’ properly;
- Assume a kneeling position with your forearms resting on a Swiss ball.
- Extend each leg until you are in an almost plank-like position on the ball.
- Without taking them off the ball, slowly rotate your arms in a clockwise fashion for 10 rotations.
- Repeat the movement for 10 rotations in a counter-clockwise direction.
Reps: 3 sets of 10 rotations each direction
9. Medicine Ball Soccer-Throw Sit-Ups
This complex movement is one of the best ab exercises for men, offering an opportunity to work out the core and the upper body simultaneously. If you want to put together one of the best ab workouts, you simply can’t go past this one. To perform Medicine Ball Soccer-Throw Sit-Ups properly;
- Lie on your back with a medicine ball overhead facing a wall.
- Curl head and shoulders off the floor and squeeze abs in. Raise the ball overhead and slam it against the wall.
- Pick the ball up and raise it above your head.
- Keeping your arms outstretched, slowly return to the starting position.
Reps: 3 sets of 10
10. Battle Rope Slams
Another full-body exercise, Battle Ropes offer engagement in your core, along with a wealth of other added benefits. We’ve gone with the simultaneous Battle Ropes Slam for this workout, however, the alternating movement works just as well. To complete Battle Ropes Slam ab workout properly;
- Stand in front of the Battle Ropes.
- Clutching them in each hand, ensure there is only slight slack.
- Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight.
- Using only your arms, raise both of the battle ropes to eye level, before slamming them down as hard as possible.
Reps: As many reps as possible in 1 minute