Here's the truth: Endless crunches and situps are not the secret to six-pack abs.

In fact, repetitive or excessive spinal flexion—that is, bending your back so your chest goes toward your knees, exactly as you do during a crunch—is "just about the worst thing you can do for your back," says David Larson, C.S.C.S., a strength coach at Pulse Fitness in Scottsdale, Arizona. Oh, and another pro tip: No matter what exercises you do, a proper diet is essential for carving out that six-pack—just ask any fitness model or strength coach.

Once your diet is on point, make sure you do these six key exercises to get you started on making your abs the best they’ve ever been.