The number of “how to build a six pack” programs out there on the market is staggering.

The obsession is real for some people because having a six pack is considered the fitness version of winning the lottery — and utmost respect is given to those that dare to carry them.

But honestly… what does it really take to get a six pack?

In one sentence — you must reduce your body fat percentage (through maintaining a calorie deficit over time) and secondly, you must train your abs directly.

Most people train their abs directly by doing unlimited ab crunches. With little to no regard to reducing their body fat percentage through nutrition.

I’ve been there done that.

You will be liberated from your frustrations once you come to realise that lowering your body fat percentage is just as important as training your abs in the gym.

I’ve made this mistake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Quick summary

  • A great set of abs is developed and visible by a combination of low levels of body fat (guys, usually around 10–12% BF. Girls, usually under 20% BF) and by training them directly. Yes, if you only care about learning the “best” ab exercises in this article without considering a calorie deficit to drop BF percentage levels… this article will be a waste of your time.
  • Low levels of body fat is achieved by maintaining a calorie deficit over time.
  • Training abs directly by doing ab-specific exercises (I will list them below)
  • Don’t obsess over developing only abs by “spot targeting.” Having developed abs with neglect to other muscle groups will make your abs look ridiculous.

The Best Ab Exercises You Can Do

There are no “secret” ab exercises. There are no hacks or anything special with building abs. Again, there are only a few ab exercises that need to be done consistently to really bring out your abs.

Remember, abs are just another set of muscles. So they need to be progressively overloaded to make them bigger! And to make them bigger you need to be in a calorie surplus and getting enough protein every day.

Here are some photos of my abs to prove that I am not just dishing out advice without having ever achieved the result myself.

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The “before” photo was actually taken after about 18 months of doing ab crunches. If you are reading this you can probably relate to my story. It’s frustrating doing ab exercises and not seeing abs.

See how a high body fat percentage is like a blanket that covers the muscles? My abs are there…but nobody can see them!

What changed? The ab exercises didn’t really vary that much. What changed was I dropped my body fat percentage down. In these photos, I am about 10–11% BF. The before photo was about 21% body fat.

Now. If you are looking to maximise muscle growth for your abs, you must be in a calorie surplus. This means you will also need to add some fat to your frame so you can maximise muscle growth

This means you will lose sight of your abs (but they are still there, under a layer of fat — see the above “before” photo). During your “bulk” you will follow the ab exercises below; continuing to train your abs and accepting that you won’t be able to see those abs until you commence your “cut” cycle (calorie deficit) to bring your body fat percentage back down again.

Here is a summary of how I train my abs. By the way, this was how I trained them when I was really building them. Once you have well-developed abs, you can scale this back:

  • Train abs 2–3 times per week (just like the calves. Abs are a small set of muscles that recover very quickly).
  • One day minimum rest between ab training sessions
  • 2–3 minutes rest between sets

Consistency is key, once again. And remember, if your body fat percentage is sky high, your abs will grow (with high protein dieting) but you won’t see them. Period. Once this makes sense to you, you will stop stressing about burning yourself out with 300 reps of sit-ups.

And the most effective way to bring your body fat percentage down is maintaining a calorie deficit. Trust me. It only took me a good 6 years to figure that out.

The following exercise list which is actually my list that I have pretty much stuck to over the years. There is nothing unique about it and are not necessarily the “best” exercises.

If you are training for bodybuilding then it may be necessary to balance your ab exercises to hit-every-single-muscle-striation in your abs. But most reading this just care about getting abs, so read on!

Here are my favourite ab exercises

I’ve made each exercise clickable to a video demonstration of how that exercise is performed.

This is how I usually structure my own ab exercises. Just say I am training abs on a Monday along with my “Chest” day. I would first get my chest out of the way (bench press, etc). I would then hit my abs last.

My Ab Circuit

  1. Ab wheel roll-out (to failure) followed by 2–3 minutes rest. Repeat 4 times!
  2. Leg Raises (to failure) followed by 2–3 minutes rest. Repeat 3 times.
  3. Weighted cable crunch (with enough weight added to produce 5–7 reps). Repeat 3 times.

That’s pretty much it.

The general rule of thumb is to hit your abs with 1–2 heavy weighted exercises for up to 5–7 reps (this is how ab muscles are built).

Then you can pick and choose unweighted ab exercises such as ab wheel roll-out and operate to failure (until you can’t do another rep), rest for 2–3 minutes, and rinse and repeat for 3 sets).

This routine takes me no more than 20 minutes! Seriously. There is no need to spend any more time then this working your abs nor is it necessary to burn away at hundreds of sit-ups and ab crunches.

My Closing Thoughts

The ab wheel in the photo above has travelled to over half a dozen different countries with me! I take it everywhere.

If you would like to buy one so you can transform your own core. Click here. There are a heap of different colours to choose from 🙂

Please leave your comments below. I am more than happy to help out.

I also host a number of free online fitness courses over at my online fitness school. Be sure to go and check it out.

LEARN HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN MEAL PLANS AROUND THE FOOD YOU LOVE THE MOST, WHILE BUILDING THE BODY OF YOUR DREAMS.

90% OFF LIFETIME ENROLMENT TO MY MEAL PLANNING MASTERY COURSE

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