Athletes of all sports—from baseball to football to hockey—base their physical training on improving the strength of their core using compound movements. That’s great for pro athletes, but what about guys who just want to get a ripped six-pack?
First off, let’s acknowledge a hard truth: Not all abs are created equal. Some guys need to work their belly to exhaustion before they can carve out abs, while other dudes seem to get theirs to pop without a single situp.
Regardless of where you fit on the fitness spectrum, effectively training your abdominal muscles comes down to the three planes of motion: frontal, sagittal, and transverse. Doing abs exercises in a circuit style keeps the intensity high and will likely lead to more fat loss.
Ready to get ripped and lose your love handles? These 30 abs exercises will be the last guide you’ll ever need.
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. Do as many reps as you can with perfect form and end the set when you think you might break form.
2. Arms-High Partial Situp
Lie on your back, knees bent at 90 degrees, and raise your arms straight overhead, keeping them pointing up throughout the exercise. Sit up halfway, then steadily return to the floor. That’s one rep.
3. Barbell Rollout
Load the bar with 10-pound plates and kneel on the floor behind it. Your shoulders should be over the bar. Brace your abs and roll the bar forward, reaching in front of you until you feel your hips are about to sag. Roll yourself back.
4. Barbell Russian Twist
Grasp the bar near the very end again—this time with both hands. Stand with feet at shoulder width. Swing the bar to your left, pivoting your feet as needed, then swing to your right.
5. Swiss Ball Crunch
Lie back on the ball with feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Your lower back should be supported by the ball. Place your hands behind your ears and tuck your chin. Curl your body up off the ball until you’re sitting up.
6. Dip/Leg Raise Combo
Suspend yourself over the parallel bars at a dip station. Bend your knees slightly and raise your legs in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor. This will build you a magazine-worthy six-pack.
7. Flutter Kick
Lie on your back with legs straight and arms extend out at your sides. Lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor and rapidly kick your feet up and down in a quick, scissor-like motion.
8. Front Squat
Set a barbell on a power rack at about shoulder height (if you don’t have a rack, clean it to your shoulders). Grasp the bar with hands at shoulder width and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips—as long as your elbows stay up, you’ll be able to balance the bar. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.
9. Horizontal Cable Woodchop
Set an adjustable cable pulley to shoulder level (or attach a band to a sturdy object) and grasp the handle with both hands. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, perpendicular to the anchor point, and arms extended, far enough away from the machine so there’s tension on the cable. Twist away from the machine as if you were chopping into a tree. Keep your feet stationary.
10. Leg Raise
Lie on the floor and hold onto a bench or the legs of a heavy chair for support. Keep your legs straight and raise them up until they’re vertical. Lower back down, but stop just short of the floor to keep tension on your abs before the next rep.
11. Medicine Ball Russian Twist
Sit on the floor in the top position of a situp and, holding a medicine ball with both hands, extend your arms in front of you. Explosively twist your body to one side and then twist back. Alternate sides.
12. Medicine Ball Mountain Climber
Hold the ball with both hands and get into pushup position on the floor. Drive one knee up to your chest, then quickly drive it back while you raise the opposite knee.
13. Pike to Superman
Get into pushup position with your toes on the ball. Bend your hips and roll the ball toward you so your torso becomes vertical. Roll back so your body is straight again and extend your spine, then roll the ball up your legs so your body forms a straight line with arms extended overhead but hands still on the floor. You should look like Superman flying downward. That’s one rep. Pull with your lats to return to the pushup position and begin the next rep. Here are even more ab moves that use a stability ball.
Get into pushup position and bend your elbows to lower your forearms to the floor. Hold the position with abs braced.
15. Pullup to Knee Raise
Hang from a pullup bar with hands outside shoulder width and palms facing away from you. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar and then raise your knees to your chest in the top position.
16. Pushup Rocket
Get into pushup position with your feet in the cradles of a suspension trainer and perform explosive pushups so that your hands leave the floor and you can clap in midair.
17. Resisted Reverse Crunch
Lie on your back on the floor and wrap the band around the arches of your feet. Cross the ends of the band over each other to make an “X” and grasp the ends with opposite hands. Bend your hips and knees so that your kneesare near your chest and then crunch your torso off the floor. Extend your legs while you raise your arms overhead—keep your shoulder blades off the floor. That’s one rep.
18. Swiss Ball Rollout
Rest your forearms on the Swiss ball and extend your legs behind you. Brace your abs and roll the ball forward as you extend your arms and hips. When you feel you’re about to lose tension in your abs, roll yourself back.
19. Medicinal Ball Seated Knee Tuck
Sit on a bench and squeeze the medicine ball between your feet. Extend and elevate your legs out in front of you and extend your torso so that your body forms a straight line. Hold on to the bench for support. Crunch your torso forward and bring your knees to your chest.
20. Side Plank
Lie on your left side resting your left forearm on the floor for support. Raise your hips up so your body forms a straight line and brace your abs—your weight should be on your left forearm and the edge of your left foot. Hold the position with abs braced.
Place your feet in the foot cradles of the suspension trainer and get into pushup position with your hands on the floor. Drive one knee to your chest while the other leg remains extended. Now drive the opposite leg to your chest while you extend the other back. Continue so it looks like you’re running in place.
22. Situp and throw
Hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest and sit on the floor. Anchor your feet under something sturdy for support, and lie back on the floor a few feet away from a brick or concrete wall. Explosively sit up and throw the ball into the wall and then catch it on the rebound. If you have a partner, you can throw the ball to him/her instead.
23. Star Plank
Get into pushup position. Move your arms and feet apart as wide as possible—your body will make a star shape. Hold the position with your torso straight and abs braced for 30 seconds.
24. Straight-Leg Barbell Situp
Lie on the floor holding an empty or lightly loaded bar over your chest as in the top of a bench press. Your legs should be extended on the floor in front of you. Perform a situp, raising your torso until it’s vertical. Keep the bar over your head, so it drifts back to an overhead press position at the top of the situp.
25. Suitcase Deadlift
Load the barbell on the floor and stand to the left of it with feet hip-width apart. Bend your hips back and lower your body until you can grasp the barbell in its center with your right hand. Brace your core and, keeping your lower back in its natural arch, push through your heels to stand up and lock out your hips. Squeeze the bar hard to keep it from teetering. Focus on keeping your spine straight the entire set—do not bend laterally toward the barbell.
26. Swiss Ball Plank Circle
Place a Swiss ball on the floor and get into pushup position with your hands on it. Now lower your forearms to rest on the ball, keeping your entire body in a straight line with abs braced. Use your elbows to roll the ball in a circular motion, clockwise and then counterclockwise, as if you were stirring a pot.
27. Swiss Ball V-Up and Pass
Lie on your back on the floor and hold the ball between your ankles. Extend your arms behind your head. Sit up while raising your legs simultaneously and pass the ball from your legs to your hands. Go back down to the floor and repeat, passing the ball from your hands to your legs. Each pass is one rep.
28. Medicine Ball V-Up
Lie on your back on the floor holding the ball with both hands behind your head. Extend you legs. Brace your abs and sit all the way up. Raise your legs simultaneously and reach for your toes with the ball. Your body should form a V shape at the top.
29. Weighted Situp
Lie on the floor holding a weight plate at your chest. Bend your knees 90 degrees with feet on the floor. Tuck your chin to your chest and sit up all the way.
30. Half Kneeling Chop
Get into the bottom of a lunge position with your left leg forward and reach up over your left shoulder to grasp the band. Pull it diagonally downward across your body to the outside of your right hip.