10 Best Abs Exercises of All Time to Get a Six-Pack Fast

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 19, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Abs are coveted in the fitness world.

Ask anyone new to fitness and exercise what part of their body they are working on and chances are, they are going to say “abs.”

Six pack abs have become highly sought-after and many state it as a sign of great physical fitness.

However, while so many people are working to get flat abs, many don’t know how to get abs and find themselves struggling to achieve their goal.

It does take hard work, determination, and perseverance to tone and define your abs, but it isn’t impossible to do.

Couple these abs exercises with a great cardio routine, a healthy, nutritious diet, and a good-quality whey protein powder, and you've got an ideal recipe for losing weight and great abs.

Here's something to motivate you before we start discussing the different abs exercises.

Quick Summary

  • To achieve a six-pack and tone your abs, incorporate exercises like planks, squats, barbell squats, reverse press-ups, bird dogs, side crunches, standing lifts, boat poses, reverse curl and lifts, and bicycle crunches into your routine.
  • These exercises target various abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, for comprehensive core strengthening.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, exercises like barbell squats engage the core more intensely due to added weight, enhancing abdominal muscle engagement If the athlete flexes at the spine before 120° of hip flexion when squatting.
  • In my opinion, a combination of these diverse ab exercises, along with a balanced diet and cardio, is key to achieving well-defined and strong abdominal muscles.

What seems impossible today will one day become your warm-up.

-Sheely Eichas, Fitness Trainer

Top 10 Abs Exercises

To help you out, we have compiled a list of the 10 best abs exercises that require little to no equipment that you can do to get those six packs.

1. Plank

plank

The plank is one of the best core workouts you can do. It works all of your core muscles which are responsible for developing a six-pack.

The longer and more frequently you plank, the tighter those muscles will become. You’ll start to have more definition in your abs.

  • Step 1: Get on your hands and knees.
  • Step 2: Lower your elbows to the floor. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your hands are out in front of you, shoulder width apart. From the side, your arms should make a 90-degree angle.
  • Step 3: Step your feet back and lift up off the floor. Your entire body should be a straight line.
  • Step 4: Hold this position for 3 minutes, or as long as you can.

Trainer Tips:

  • Don’t look up or straight ahead—this will mess up your form. Look at the floor in front of you.
  • Don’t let your hips sag—this will mess up your form, as well. If you feel your hips starting to sag, squeeze your glutes and move your feet further apart to make it easier to hold this straight position.

Also Read: Guide to Cocoon Exercises for Stronger Core

2. SquatsWoman doing a squat

Squats can be an abs workout because they activate a lot of the muscles throughout your core in order to stabilize your body in this position.

When your core engages, your stomach muscles contract and this can help define your abs.

Follow the steps below on how to do squats.

  • Step 1: Stand looking forward and with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Step 2: Start to sit down like you are sitting in an invisible chair and stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Put your arms out in front of your or clasp your hands together to help you keep your balance.
  • Step 3: Hold this position for a few seconds, then stand back up. Do 3 sets of 10 squats.

Trainer Tips

  • To make this exercise more difficult, squat until you are almost sitting on the floor and stand back up only using your legs to push off of the floor.

 

3. Barbell Squats

Man doing barbell squat

Just like with regular squats, barbell squats work your entire body.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), with the added weight of the barbell, your core will be engaged even more than a regular squat in order to keep your body standing and that means your abs will be engaged as well [1].

Doing this exercises regularly will surely workout your whole body, not just the abs.

  • Step 1: Stand under the bar with your feet hip-width apart. Your head should be up and your chest out.
  • Step 2: When you release the bar from where it is resting, it should rest at the base of your neck. You should support it with your traps and grip in a way that is comfortable for you.
  • Step 3: Maintaining your posture, slowly lower yourself to the “invisible seat” position, or lower if you desire.
  • Step 4: After holding for a breath, stand back up. Do 3 sets of 10 barbell squats.

Trainer Tips

  • Before you start, make sure the barbell is located in pegs that is a comfortable height for you. Chest level will usually be the best placement. It is better to bend down slightly than have to return the barbell to a level where you have to raise up on your toes.
  • Keep your gaze straight in front of you. Looking anywhere else may ruin your posture.

4. Reverse Press Up

Reverse Press Up

Reverse press ups are great for defining your abs because they work your lower abdominal muscles.

The reverse press up relies solely on your core to lift and lower your legs in this exercise.

Give it everything you've got in this routine to get the most out of it.

To do this exercise, get your yoga mat ready for a comfortable workout.

  • Step 1: Lie on the ground like you are going to do a traditional crunch, with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be at your sides.
  • Step 2: Pull your knees to your chest as far as you can, making sure to lift your tailbone off the ground. Keep your legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Step 3: Slowly lower your legs back down. Repeat and do 3 sets of 10 reverse press ups.

Trainer Tips

  • To make the exercise more difficult, extend your legs all the way out instead of keeping them in a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your head on the ground and look straight ahead instead of looking around to keep your posture straight.

Related Articles: Does Getting Punched in the Stomach Give You Abs?

5. Bird Dog

bird dog

In my experience training clients, I've found the bird dog to be one of the best core exercises out there.

It really challenges all the core muscles to work in unison, maintaining balance while extending the arms and legs.

Initially, many of my clients find this exercise challenging, but with consistent practice, they significantly improve their overall balance.

  • Step 1: Get on all fours.
  • Step 2: At the same time, lift your left leg and raise your right arm. Extend both all the way out.
  • Step 3: Hold for five seconds and repeat on the other side of your body. Do 5-10 reps on each side.

Trainer Tips

  • Look down at the floor instead of straight ahead.
  • Keep your hips and shoulders square and do not let your back arch.

“The Bird Dog Exercise is a classic core exercise that emphasizes lower back strength and balance. If you’ve never done it before, the first few reps make seem awkward and difficult to balance, but once you get the form down, you’ll want to make it a staple in your exercise program.”

- Marc Perry, Fitness Trainer

6. Side Crunch

side crunch

Side crunches work the internal and external oblique muscles and the transverse abdominus.

This means this exercise targets all areas of your stomach and is very popular with those looking to get rid of their love handles.

You can make this routine more difficult by lifting your upper body and bent knees at the same time.

  • Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your hands behind your head.
  • Step 2: Slowly lower your knees together to the right until they touch the ground, still lying on your back and looking up.
  • Step 3: With your knees still touching the ground, sit up and lift your shoulders off the ground like you are doing a traditional crunch.
  • Step 4: Lower your upper body back down to the ground. Repeat, lowering your knees to your left side. Do 5-10 reps on each side.

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your gaze forward to avoid straining your neck or ruining your posture.

7. Standing Lift

Standing Lift

While this exercise is primarily a leg exercise, it also doubles as an ab exercise.

The standing lift also works your abs like a crunch as you move the medicine ball from side to side.

It looks like doing squats and the only major difference is that you are holding a medicine ball in this routine.

  • Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a medicine ball in front of you with both hands.
  • Step 2: Lower the medicine ball until it is beside your left knee, slightly squatting in the process.
  • Step 3: Slowly stand, raising the medicine ball above the right side of your head.
  • Step 4: Repeat for 5-10 reps on each side.

Trainer Tips

  • Always grip the medicine ball with both hands.
  • Keep your gaze straight ahead.
  • Keep your knees out and weight centered, careful not to roll your shoulders during this exercise.
youtube

8. Boat Pose

Boat Pose

The boat pose is one of the best ab exercises because it engages your entire core to keep you balanced and upright.

At first, you might find it difficult because it requires a lot of strength in stretching out your legs as long as you can.

If you can do this for 30 seconds, keep it up!

  • Step 1: Sit on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Step 2: Grab your behind your thighs and lean back until your feet are off the floor. Stretch your legs out straight after 30 seconds, if you can.
  • Step 3: Let go of your legs and reach your arms out straight to help keep your balance.
  • Step 4: Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.

Trainer Tips

  • The full boat pose can be hard to get into for beginners. If you have trouble, try it without straightening out your legs; just keep your knees bent.
  • If you feel yourself coming out of the pose, release and rest your feet on the floor for 30 seconds before trying to complete the remaining time of the pose.

9. Reverse Curl and Lift

Reverse Curl and Lift

The reverse curl is another one of the best core workouts you could do.

It works your lower abdominal muscles since this exercise relies solely on those muscles to lift your legs off the ground.

Do this regularly and you'll get toned abs in no time.

  • Step 1: Lie on your back with your legs stretched out straight and your arms behind your head.
  • Step 2: Bring your knees up to your chest. After your knees are lifted, raise your hips and pelvis as far as you can. Hold this position.
  • Step 3: Slowly lower your legs back down to the floor.
  • Step 4: Repeat and do 3 sets of 10 reverse curl and lifts.

Trainer Tips

  • After you are used to this exercise, lift your legs, hips, and pelvis in one swift motion.

10. Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches

Another one of the best abs exercises you can do is a bicycle crunch since this involves lifting your legs off the ground to work your core and ab muscles.

Since this exercise requires you to lift your legs for an extended period of time while you do these crunches, it makes for a great ab workout.

  • Step 1: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Step 2: Lift your legs off the floor, as well as your shoulders and arms supporting your head.
  • Step 3: Bend to bring your left elbow to your right knee and extend your left leg fully.
  • Step 4: Switch, bringing your right elbow to your left knee and extend your right leg fully.
  • Step 5: Repeat exercise on both sides in a pedalling motion for 3 sets of 12 reps.

You can also incorporate an ab roller in your workout.

Trainer Tips

  • Don’t do this exercise so fast that you are ruining your form. Go slow and focus on your breathing if you find yourself rushing.

Bicycle crunches are a great way to target the rectus abdominis and the obliques in one easy exercise. Six-pack, here you come!

- Susi May, Pop Sugar

Benefits of Training Your Abs

Training your abs offers several key benefits:

  1. Improved core strength: Strong abs enhance overall core stability, crucial for balance and posture, and beneficial for performing everyday activities and other exercises more effectively.
  2. Better posture: Regular ab workouts contribute to better spinal alignment and posture, reducing the risk of back pain and improving overall body alignment.
  3. Enhanced athletic performance: A strong core, powered by well-trained abs, is essential for athletic performance, aiding in better balance, agility, and power in various sports and physical activities.
  4. Injury prevention: Strengthening your abdominal muscles helps support the spine, reducing the likelihood of back injuries and strains during physical activities.
  5. Aesthetic appeal: Well-defined abs are often sought after for their aesthetic appeal, signifying fitness and health, and are a common goal in fitness regimens.

FAQs

What Exercise Gets You a Six Pack the Fastest?

To achieve a six-pack quickly, focus on exercises like planks, bicycle crunches, and leg raises, combined with a calorie-controlled diet to reduce body fat and reveal abdominal muscles more effectively.

What Exercise Gives the Most Abs?

The bicycle crunch is highly effective for sculpting abs, targeting both the obliques and rectus abdominis, and is renowned for its comprehensive core engagement and muscle definition enhancement with regular practice.

Do Pushups Work Abs?

Yes, pushups work abs by engaging the core muscles for stabilization, effectively strengthening the abdominal area along with the chest, shoulders, and triceps, making them a versatile upper body and core strengthening exercise.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4262933/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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One thought on “The 10 Best Abs Exercises
Guide to a Ripped Six-Pack

  1. Nice list. You can also add barbell rollouts. Been doing it for a month now using 10-pound plates. Let me also do those on your list. I’ll let you know once I have ripped abs!

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