If it's ripped abs you want, these 30 exercises will get you there.
Robert Yang 1 / 31
When you're trying to sculpt your midsection into a perfectly honed six-pack, it's only natural to assume that your first step should be hitting the mat and focusing on ab exercises. And no ab exercise is more dreaded than the bane of every high school gym class: the old-fashioned, on-the-floor crunch.
Instead, you should focus on getting your body into great all-around shape, and then working your abs. That's why we've created our Crunch-Free Abs Program, which will maximize your fat burn with a total-body overhaul and then hit your midsection with a finely tuned mix of ab exercises for maximum muscle definition.
This gallery is designed to serve as a reference guide for each exercise in the Crunch-Free Abs Program. Scroll through to get the details on how to perform each move, and then check out each of the four workouts:
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. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with toes turned slightly out. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.
Set a bench or box behind you that’s tall enough so that when you sit on it your thighs are parallel to the floor. Extend one leg in front of you and bend your hips back to sit on the bench, but don’t relax on it. Extend your hips to come back up.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and roll a barbell up to your shins. Bend down to grasp it outside your knees. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, push through your heels and extend your hips until you’re standing with the bar in front of your thighs.
Set a barbell on a rack and grasp it with hands twice shoulder-width apart. Take it out of the rack and step back. Bend your hips back and lower your torso until it’s parallel to the floor. Pull the bar to your belly button.
Secure your feet on a back-extension bench and set the pad just under the crease of your hips. Bend your hips and lower your torso as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back. Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips to lockout so your body forms a straight line.
Attach a V-grip handle to the pulley of a seated cable row machine. Set up on the bench with knees slightly bent and grasp the handle with palms facing each other. Row the handle to your sternum, drawing your shoulder blades back and pushing your chest out. As you lower the weight, allow your torso to bend forward so your lats get a stretch.
Secure a rope around a fixed object and grasp one end of it in each hand. Whip the rope into the floor as hard and as fast as you can for 30 seconds. If you don’t have a rope, get on all fours and crawl forward like a bear for 30 seconds.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand lunge length in front of a bench. Rest the top of one foot on the bench behind you. Bend both knees and lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor. Keep your torso upright.
Straddle a barbell with your feet at right angles to each other. Squat down and grasp the bar at arm’s length. Drive through your heels to stand up with it. Change the leg that points forward each set.
Set the bar on a rack at shoulder level. Grasp it with hands shoulder-width apart. Nudge the bar off the rack and step back. Raise your elbows so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor and brace your abs. Press the bar overhead, pushing your head forward as the bar clears your face.
Stand with feet outside shoulder width and toes turned out 45 degrees. Bend hips back to grasp the bar at arm’s length. Push your knees out and drive through your heels to extend your hips to lockout, lifting the bar until it’s in front of your thighs.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell (or dumbbell) with both hands. Bend your hips back so the weight swings between your legs and behind you. Explosively extend your hips and allow the momentum to raise the weight to eye level.
Sit on the floor and roll a loaded barbell into your lap. (You may need to wrap it in a towel or use a bar pad for comfort.) Lie back against a bench, bend your knees, and plant your feet on the floor. Brace your abs and drive through your heels so you raise your hips off the floor to full extension.
Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. Stand away from the machine to put tension on the cable and row the handle to your neck, flaring your elbows out.
Weighted Swiss Ball Crunch (pictured without weight)
Lie back on a Swiss ball holding a weight plate or dumbbell on your chest. Allow your body to mold around the ball so you feel a stretch in your abs. Raise your upper back off the ball while driving your lower back into the ball, contracting your abs.