Add some iron to your midsection moves to reap the rewards of a rock-solid core.
Justin Grinnell, C.S.C.S., for Muscle & Fitness 1 / 7
6 Weighted Ab Exercises for a Shredded Six-Pack
We all want to feel great, stay healthy, build muscle, and stay lean—typically by keeping our midsections in check. Most people who are looking to reduce body fat and get in shape look at their stomach to see if they are making progress. It’s only natural. The coveted abdominals are the centerpiece of a guy's physique, so most guys at the gym make attaining a six-pack a high priority.
But first, a note of trainer wisdom: Doing endless amounts of abdominal exercises will have literally no affect on your progress to burn fat and trim your waistline. Spot-reducing fat has been proven to be a myth. Just because you work a body part hard in the gym with endless amounts of reps does not mean fat will fall off and improve the looks of that body part. It simply just won't happen.
And while nutritional intake will determine how lean you will become and how your body will look, proper exercise is a critical component to improve overall health, performance and aesthetics. In order to have a strong core and build a little muscle, you need to work the rectus abdominus (think 6-pack muscle) regularly. Just like any muscle group, once you remove the fat, you want the muscles to pop. By using weight during abdominal exercises, you will increase muscle and improve its appearance. (Plus, strengthening your abdominals will help you during your lifts and other athletic events.)
Try these six weighted abdominal exercises to sculpt a midsection worth showing off and strong enough to handle the heavy weights.
Out of all the rollout variations, this one is a favorite. It taxes your abs quite a bit, and requires your core to be pretty strong without engaging your lower back. Try keeping your feet up—set your weight on your knees—so you don't cheat by pulling with your legs.
This gymnastic movement is an advanced version of traditional hanging leg raises. It utilizes the lats, core, hip flexors, biceps and smaller muscles in the back. This exercise requires the body to contract from a global extension (hanging hollow body position) to a global flexion (pike position). This tough exercise isn't for everyone, though. You must first master the hanging straight leg raise without any weight (shown above). Once you get strong enough, try doing sets with low reps and no kipping action.
Start by gripping a small dumbbell with your feet and perform 3 sets of 8 reps and then add weight as you progress.
A side plank is great to engage the lateral core stabilizers such as the obliques. Ditch side bends to sculpt your abs and instead, perform the side plank row. The lateral core stability muscles are actually anti-lateral flexion, meaning that they're not made to bend side-to-side. It also allows us to work each side oppositely to help reduce muscular imbalances.
While just holding a plank is beneficial by itself, adding dynamic movements will increase its benefits. Try adding a cable with some heavy weight to increase the anti-rotary tension affect, and to increase difficulty.
Simply set up in a side plank position (pictured here) a few feet away from a cable apparatus, or a place where you can attach a band, so that you're facing the apparatus. Maintain a neutral spine, and then perform a rowing/pulling motion. Start with a few sets of 8-12 reps and increase tension when needed.
This exercise is a total abdominal-builder, but the oblique group is sure to take a beating as well. If you do not have a landmine apparatus with a handle, you can simply place a barbell in a corner of the room.
The key on this exercise is to NOT move the hips as you draw a half moon shape with the bar. Brace your whole body and do not move anything besides your arms as you perform the movement. To activate even more abdominal muscle fibers, brace your abs and exhale at the end of each rep.
Find a sturdy weight bench and lay down on your side. Start with your hip bone at the end of the bench. If you are on your right side, place your right foot underneath the right side of the bench, and place your left foot under the left side of the bench. With your body in neutral posture, lower it until parallel to the ground. Try and hold up to 60 seconds on each side while hanging on to a 10 pound plate and move up to a 45-pound plate as you get stronger.
Compared with traditional bent-knee situps, straight-leg situps (shown above with a barbell instead of a weight plate) put less stress on your back, isolate your abdominal area, and disengage your hip flexors. Make sure not to rock or jump up fast—use your abdominals to get yourself up.
Start by lying down on your back on the floor. Make sure your legs are straight. Hold a weight plate above your chest with your arms straight. As you sit up, raise the plate above your head and then lower it slowly to the ground.