For most people, having six-pack abs is the definition of fitness success. You might have massive muscles, you may be able to bench press 400 lbs. But there’s something that’s so attractive about a tight toned core and rock hard abs. The trick to achieving that look is using the best ab workout routine and ab-building best-practices.
It’s okay to want the sex appeal that abs offer, and it’s even possible for you to make your ab dreams come true.
The only issue is that there’s a ton of junk advice out there today about how to achieve the perfect abs.
If you’re going to get the abs that you want, you’ll have to look past all the tips out there that will pull you away from actually reaching your goals. Forget about the following…
- Performing ab workouts daily
- Only Squatting or deadlifting for abs, and thinking it’s enough
- Selectively eating some foods while avoiding others (abs aren’t that picky)
- Just maintaining a low body fat percentage (that’s not all there is to it!)
Most people think getting perfect abs is difficult, confusing and time-consuming. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
In fact, you only need to follow two basic steps in order to reach the abs of your dreams. Those two steps are the key concepts of our best ab workout routine below.
Get Amazing Abs Following Two Principles
You only have to do two things in order to get that glorious six-pack that will make you the envy of everyone on the beach.
First, drop your body fat levels to get rid of any belly fat you’re holding onto. This is largely controlled by your diet, so take the time to get that in check.
We aren’t going to concern ourselves with that step much here though, but for more information on diet follow our guides below.
Nutrition And Diet Guides
- How Many Calories To Build Muscle And Lose Fat
- How Much Protein Is Needed
- How Much Fat Is Needed
- How Many Carbs Are Needed
Second, build your core muscles to make them larger and more likely to show through.
This is the step that we really care about. Many bodybuilders or powerlifters that focus on increasing their lift weights overlook core workouts or believe that they aren’t all that important for their success.
This just isn’t true. We’ll look at the different muscles that make up the core just to showcase why.
The Muscles that Make up a 6 Pack
Below is an overview of all the different muscles that make up the core and that work together to help you build an impressive 6-pack. A truly impressive set of washboard abs relies on all of these muscles being toned and impressive.
This muscle group is the main set that makes up a 6 Pack. These bands of muscle run up and down your core and making them stronger and larger will significantly enhance the look of your abs.
The obliques run along the left and right sides of your abs. They help build a more impressive looking 6-pack with muscle striations along your sides. They also help frame your 6-pack to help it stand out more.
Transversus Abdominis (TVA)
Possibly the most important muscles to strengthen but also the most overlooked. As a stabilising muscle, The TVA’s duty is to protect and support the lower back and core.
These are incredibly deep-lying muscles and run from the pelvis horizontally to the ribs.
The serratus muscles are just under your armpits at the top of where your obliques are. They help build a well-rounded upper body.
Not only should these muscles be as strong as possible in order to give you an impressive 6-pack after you lose your body fat, but they also support your spine when performing any heavy lift.
If you want to avoid back injuries and to have the strength to take your lifts to the next level, you need strong core muscles to make that possible.
The Exercises that Make up the Best Ab Workout Routine
Just working your core on a regular basis isn’t enough to give you a truly impressive core with standout 6-pack abs.
There are loads of people out there that can literally do thousands of crunches or hold planks for 10 minutes or longer that don’t have an impressive core.
They have excellent endurance, but their abs are small. That’s because the core muscles are the same as any other muscle. You can build endurance or you can build size.
If you aren’t challenging your abs with heavier weights, you aren’t challenging them to grow in size.
That’s why some of the lifts included in our best ab workout routine are weighted exercises. These are the movements that challenge your abs to grow, while others help maintain their endurance and overall strength.
You only need a few weighted core exercises in order to enlarge and strengthen your entire core, you just have to choose the right ones.
Get familiar with the different movements in our workout and start using them and you’re sure to experience major benefits over time.
Heavy Compound Exercises
Research shows that heavy compound lifts also help increase the growth hormone released in your body, so performing these lifts weekly will help improve your muscle gains for your other workouts as well.
Perform those key lifts each week, and really push heavy weight with those movements once you perfect your form with each.
The Ab Wheel Rollout
The ab wheel rollout is the only movement that requires any kind of special ab gadget, and it’s very effective for building a strong core while also giving you the ability to add more weight when you’re ready to.
Use this frequently with a good sturdy wheel, and add a weighted vest to the workout when you’re ready for a greater challenge.
This movement is an impressive technique for building the rectus abdominals as well as your obliques.
It’s a weighted movement that relies on a vertical cable. Use the standard movement for your rectus abdominals and a twisting motion to really target your obliques and challenge them to grow.
While this isn’t a weighted workout, the air bicycle movement really challenges your abs, your TVA and your obliques to work to get stronger.
It’s a powerful tool for building a strong foundation for preparing your body to handle more weighted core movements.
Try and use it frequently and you’ll notice that your core strength goes up in a big way over time.
Captain’s Chair Leg Raise
You can work through three different progressions of this powerful movement to really increase the strength and size of your lower abs as well as your obliques.
You should start off by lifting your knees up and progress to lifting straight legs when you have the strength. Finally, start adding weight in between your feet while lifting your legs for serious muscle development.
Hanging Leg Raise
This movement is essentially the same as the Captain’s Chair leg raise, but you’re hanging from a pullup bar during the movement.
You start off by tucking up your knees, then progress to straight legs and finally weighted straight legs just like you do with the other movement.
Just make sure to keep your body stabilized throughout the movement for the best results and to avoid injury.
How to Build the Best Ab Workout Routine
There are just a few simple rules that you need to follow when building your ab routine. They are as follows.
Use Weighted and Unweighted Movements
If you want a core with the different striations and the definition that stands out so well you need to develop a great deal of muscle.
This requires you to use a regular mix of weighted and unweighted ab exercises to achieve growth. Make sure you have a blend of both types of movements built into your workout routine.
While you don’t want to train your abs every day, these smaller muscles can handle more training than the large muscles that you need for heavy compound movements.
You can do ab workouts two or three times a week while also doing compound lifts on other days and achieve optimal growth and development over time.
Be Sure that You’re Progressing
The last key element of building the best ab workout routine for you is to take steps to make sure you’re raising the difficulty of your routine.
That means you should be slowly adding more weight to the weighted lifts and increasing the reps you perform with the unweighted lifts.
This is the only way you’re going to challenge your abs enough for them to grow at the proper levels.
Building a Routine
Now that you know the rules, we’ll look at how you can build different workouts. The setup is basic, you’ll perform three different exercises one after another as a circuit.
After completing a single rep of your circuit you’ll rest before doing it once again.
A circuit should look like this
- The weighted ab exercise for 10 to 15 reps
- One unweighted ab exercise to failure
- Another unweighted ab exercise to failure.
When performing the weighted ab movement the goal should be to keep your reps between 10 and 15. If you can do more than 15 reps you should increase your weight by 5 lbs.
You should try and repeat the circuit three times for a full ab workout. Build a few different circuits using different movements and try and go through two or three ab workouts throughout the week.
You May Also Like
- The Metabolic Accelerator Workout (Your Guide To Shredded Abs)
- The Top Exercises To Lose Weight Fast
- Best Cardio For Burning Fat (The Definitive Guide)
Can Supplements Help You Get Better Abs
Supplements can help give you abs that you’ll love, but they only help, they won’t fix a poor diet or training routine.
If you want to reach your abs goals, you need to fix these aspects of your routine first before you ever worry about something like supplements.
Once you’re on a good routine and you’re starting to see some progress, then it’s time to add in supplements to supercharge your results.
There are supplements that will help you burn fat faster. There are others that will help your body run more efficiently and to help your organs perform well.
There are even supplements to help you build muscle faster and more effectively. All those benefits will result in you achieving your results sooner as long as you’re doing everything else well already.
The Right Ab Workout Makes a Difference
Hopefully, this writeup makes it clear that there isn’t a secret weapon to give you a 6-pack in a few weeks.
It’s going to take you much longer than that to reach your goals and that’s only if you’re very serious, otherwise, you won’t reach them at all.
You’ll have to follow a routine like our best ab workout routine detailed up above, and you have to nail down your nutrition and diet properly as well.
If you can build up your ab muscles and drop your body fat levels, you can have abs that others will marvel at.
It takes time to reach these results, not secrets, so get to work and achieve the look that you want!
Related: The Ultimate Lower Ab Workout
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Hi, I’m David and I believe absolutely anyone can achieve the body of their dreams. I’m a qualified health and fitness coach and have been helping clients achieve their dream bodies for 15 years. Whether you are looking to get beach body ready, compete in a bodybuilding show or simply to improve your confidence and wellbeing, I can help.