The best ab workouts aren’t just for those seeking chiseled physiques. Athletes of all sports—from baseball to football to hockey—base their physical training on improving the strength of their core using compound movements. Learning how to engage your core is crucial for protecting the spine during everyday movements, as well as sports.
Regardless of where you fit on the fitness spectrum—whether you’re a pro athlete or just want to get ripped abs—a comprehensive core workout should comprise three planes of motion: frontal, sagittal, and transverse to hit your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and transversus abdominis.
Myriad total-body exercises light up your core muscles, but targeted ab workouts can really make a difference in strengthening your core from every angle. And doing core exercises in a circuit keeps the intensity high and will likely lead to more fat loss.
But we need to acknowledge a hard truth: Not all six packs are created equal. Some guys need to work their belly to exhaustion before they can carve out abs, while other dudes seem to get a six pack to pop without a single situp or side plank.
To get ripped and lose your love handles, you need to clean up your diet, be patient with progress, and stay consistent. Of course, ab exercises aren’t just hitting your upper abs, rectus abdominis, and deep core muscles. Some of these exercises hit the upper body, lower body, or total body to help prevent injury by bolstering muscles like erector spinae (muscles along the spine) and hip flexors.
Below we’ve highlighted 50 core strengthening exercises so you can mix and match to create an endless array of ab workouts. Of course, not all core exercises just hit your core, so some of these are upper body and lower body exercises that work your abdominal muscles while strengthening other body parts (think side plank, woodchops, and getups).
Not sure how many reps and sets to do? Follow this guide.
The 50 Best Abs Workouts of All Time
How to do it
1. Ab Wheel Rollout
- Kneel on the floor and hold an ab wheel beneath your shoulders.
- Brace your abs and roll the wheel forward until you feel you’re about to lose tension in your core and your hips might sag.
- Roll yourself back to start.
Reps: Do as many reps as you can with perfect form.
Sets: End the set when you think you might break form.
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