I’m going to show you the best as exercises for developing a six pack.
And I’ll tell you how you can put together an as routine that works for you.
Abs Exercises Alone Won’t Get You A 6-Pack!
Before we get into this abs workout. I want to remind you that no matter how many abs exercises you do, you won’t be able to get visible abs unless your body fat percentage is low enough to reveal them.
If you have more genetic muscle thickness, then you’re going to be able to see your abs at a higher body fat percentage than someone who has a thinner genetic muscle thickness in their abs. But you still have to be at a fairly low body fat percentage in order to see abs.
For men, it tends to be about 10 to 14% body fat, where they’re going to start to see their abs. Women will tend to have them at a slightly higher percentage, perhaps 14 and all the way up to 20. Especially for a woman who has genetically thick abs. Which I don’t, by the way.
What Actually Gets You Visible 6-Pack Abs
If you’re really serious about getting visible abs 90% of the result that you’re going to get is through your nutrition.
You can build your muscles a little bit through training (and that’s what I’m going to show you), but you have to reveal them through your nutrition.
So that means a diet that allows you to get into a caloric deficit and lose belly fat.
So no, these exercises won’t burn your belly fat off.
They just help you strengthen the rectus abdominis, which is the six pack muscle.
Building Your 6-Pack Abs
The abs and particularly the rectus abdominis are muscle like any other. And they can be trained to a certain extent.
So you want to work towards hypertrophy and that’s muscle growth. Just as you might for other muscle groups.
The Role Of The Rectus Abdominis
The rectus abdominis is responsible for flexing the spine. So you’re either bringing your rib cage down towards your pelvis, or you’re bringing your pelvis up towards your rib cage. And we’re going to incorporate exercises that do each of those things.
Now, crunches are a perfectly fine way of training the rectus abdominis. You are curling your spine up.
My problem with crunches is that people tend to abuse them. They crank their head and their necks too hard.
And full sit-ups (when you’re coming all the way up) can be even worse because then you’re using momentum and then a lot of your hip flexors as well. But as long as you’re careful with crunches and they’re quite controlled, then you can still get the benefits here.
I’m showing you a controlled crunch on the ground. You want to keep your elbows back and then gently curl up. Once you can do about 15 reps. I think it’s useful to load with a little bit of weight for the crunch.
Long Lever Crunch
You can also try the long lever crunch by extending your arms overhead, and then slowly crunching forward. It just gives you a bit more resistance to work with.
Hanging Leg Raise
In the hanging leg raise, you’re bringing your pelvis up towards your rib cage. You really want to squeeze at the top for this exercise.
Now, normally this is an exercise that most people will do in quite low reps. It is quite challenging, perhaps six to eight reps. Once these become too easy for you, you can try to load them. You can either hold a weight between your feet or do what I’m doing here, which is just adding some ankle weights. The hanging leg raise works the lower part of the rectus abdominis. And you want to make sure that you really pull your pelvis up towards your rib cage.
Double Leg Thrust On Bench
The double leg thrust on a bench has also been shown to be effective at targeting the rectus abdominis you want to extend out and then bring it back. It’s also one of these exercises where you can maintain control. And I think you can do higher reps for this. So you can go from about 15 to 20 reps on this, or you can keep your reps a little bit lower and add weight either with an ankle weight or for this one. It’s actually easy enough to hold the dumbbell.
In cable crunches, you’re bringing your rib cage down towards your pelvis. I’m showing a variation that’s a band pulldown. But it’s exactly the same movement.
Make sure that you’re not pulling down hard with your arms. You really want to focus on that curling action of your abdominals for the lying leg raise. You just want to hold yourself overhead and then you’re slowly bringing your legs up and then controlling the motion down as well. So you want to be really careful that you’re keeping your abs tight the whole way and that you’re controlled. So really focus on that mind muscle connection with the abs. If you do too much swinging on this one, you’ll involve your hip flexors. You’re going to involve them anyway. But if you try to focus on the rectus abdominis, then you can avoid using the hip flexors as much.
The reverse crunch also brings the pelvis towards the rib cage. It’s a little less challenging and you can make it a smaller movement. If you want, you can keep your knees bent and just do a shorter range of motion, or you can fully extend the legs. They’re quite good for beginners. And you can also make them more challenging as you go along and you want this to be a fairly controlled movement. So you don’t involve the hip flexors too much.
The Importance Of Back Training
If you’re doing abs training, it’s also important that you do enough work for your back as well. So something like an alternating Superman when you’re alternating the arms and legs
Or a full Superman where you’re doing a hold or you can do up and down as well. So make sure that you incorporate that into your routine. So if you’re doing abs three times a week, then you also do these back exercises three times a week. You can do that on the same day, or you can do them on alternate days.
Adding TVA Exercises
And if you’re doing a lot of rectus abdominis work, it’s also important to train the TVA as well. So something like a stomach vacuum can be a great addition, but I’ve got a whole collection of TVA exercises as well on my channel. So you can check those out.
Try to incorporate a TVA exercise on most days that you’re training. If you overwork the rectus abdominis and don’t do any TVA exercises, you could put yourself at risk of developing a diastasis recti, if you are predisposed to that condition.
Putting Together Your 6-Pack Abs Routine
So here’s how we’re going to put it together.
You can do rectus abdominis exercises three to five times a week. They do tend to recover better than other muscle groups. So you can train more frequently if you like. I think three times a week is just fine. It’s actually more than I do myself. And then for each of those days, pick two or three of the exercises that I’ve given you and do about three sets.
Ideally, you’re going to have a combination of crunching moves. So you’re bringing your rib cage down towards your pelvis. And then also the ones where your legs are raising. So your pelvis is coming up towards the ribs.
The abs and particularly the rectus abdominis are composed of type one, which are slow Twitch muscles and type two, which are fast Twitch muscles. So that means they’ll respond to a combination of high repetitions and lower repetitions as well.
So for me, lower repetitions is about six to 10 and then higher repetitions are about 12 all the way up to about 20. I think some people do higher reps than that, but once you get to 20, it’s harder to focus and you start to lose your form. And you’re more likely to injure yourself.
Training Abs With Progressive Overload
Remember that you should also train the abs with progressive overload.
So once an exercise becomes too easy, you can either load it with weight as I’ve shown in some of the exercises, or you can switch to an exercise. That’s a little bit more challenging. Hanging leg raises are a bit more tricky than reverse crunches. So if you’re starting out, you might want to start at the reverse crunch.
And then once you get a bit stronger, work your way up to a hanging leg race, remember that you’re also going to incorporate an exercise like a Superman, as well as an inner ab TVA exercise. Like a stomach vacuum.
That gives you a well-rounded program for a 6-pack, and minimizes the risk of injury.