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 professional 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 their abs to pop without a single situp.
Regardless of where you fit on the fitness spectrum, effectively training the core comes down to the three planes of motion: frontal, sagittal, and transerve. Doing abs exercises in a circuit style keeps the intensity high and will likely lead to more fat loss.
Ready to get ripped? Let these 30 abs exercises will be the last guide you'll ever need.
Kneel on the floor and hold an ab wheelbeneath 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.
Lie on your back, knees bent 90 degrees, and raise your armsstraight overhead, keeping them pointing upward throughout the exercise. Sit up halfway and then steadily return to the floor. That's one rep.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Get into pushupposition 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.
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.
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.
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.
Lie on your left side resting your left forearm on the floor for support. Raise your hips up so that 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 trainerand 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.
Hold the 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 instead and let him throw it back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.