The 15 Best Ab Workout Exercises In 2024
— Updated on 4 July 2024

The 15 Best Ab Workout Exercises In 2024

— Updated on 4 July 2024
Medically Reviewed by: Jono Castano  | 
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

There are lots of reasons to build a core of steel, from the strength you’ll be able to hit every workout with to the confidence that comes on a trip to the beach. However, we can sometimes overlook the fact that getting the best washboard abs goes beyond just the odd workout and a consistently healthy diet.

You might be hitting the gym every day, but you’ll most likely fail to see your desired results if you’ve got the wrong workout plan. And yes, diet is another crucial factor (1) determining how long you will be training in the gym before you start to see some serious results.

It sounds easy. Just decrease your body fat while working on your core. But while it’s straightforward on paper, knowing the right cardiovascular exercise program for you so you can drop that body fat percentage without losing muscle mass (2) is fine art you’d have to work on to get exactly right.

best ab workout

RELATED: The 10 Best Shoulder Workouts & Exercises For Men

As mentioned above, a healthy diet is obviously a must, and decreasing your fat intake with a well-balanced diet is mostly just a matter of willpower and some planning around the meals you’re eating. It’s also important to know the best ab workouts for men if you want results you’re happy with, which is exactly why you’re here. Let’s get you across some of the best and most effective abdominal exercises so you can get familiar with and leap your way into a very strong core.

First, before you dive headfirst into these abdominal exercises (3), it’s important that you realise changing your body fat percentage depends on various other factors like consistency and a healthy diet. As with all exercises geared towards fat loss, carefully managing your calories and fat intake is crucial. If you’ve got a well-balanced diet, then you’re ready to tackle these ab workouts so you can work your way to getting that washboard stomach. From hanging knee-ups to the reverse crunch, read on for the most effective ab workouts for men.

Editor’s Note: The fitness content on Boss Hunting is informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical or professional fitness advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, consulting with a trusted medical professional or trainer is always a good idea.

RELATED: The 9 Best Gyms In Sydney To Tighten Your Sloppy Rig



The Best Abs Workout & Exercises For Men

1. Ab Crunch (Sit-Ups)

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper and middle abs
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 2-4
  • Reps: 15-30
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Ab crunch, also called sit-ups, is a common type of ab workout that helps build and strengthen your core muscles. It remains one of the best exercises that will get your abs ripped in no time. While it might seem like a simple workout, you can challenge yourself by using a plate weight or a dumbbell. Here’s how to do sit-ups the right way

How to do it:

  1. Find a comfortable spot and lie on your back. You can use your training mat here.
  2. Bend your knees, position your arms on your temple and raise your torso while keeping your core engaged. 
  3. Consider using a plate weight or a dumbbell to challenge your ab muscles while performing the ab crunches.
  4. Ensure you keep your neck straight while raising your torso.

RELATED: The Best Rear Delt Exercises for Men


2. Plank

best ab workout
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 30-60 seconds
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: The plank exercise is one of the best home ab workouts. When done correctly, this ab routine can benefit you tremendously. This workout comes highly recommended because it works on your core muscles in one hit. You will engage the upper, middle, and lower ab muscles during this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on the floor and assume a plank position by placing your forearms and elbows on the floor. 
  2. Raise your body off the floor using your toes and aim to keep your back straight.
  3. Keep your neck straight by looking at the floor. Looking straight ahead might strain your neck.
  4. Hold the plank position for 1 minute. Relax. That’s 1 set.

3. Barbell Russian Twist

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques and middle abs
  • Equipment needed: Barbell and mount
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Core abs workout also requires working on the sides of your abs. This helps to tone your ab muscles and burn your belly fat. The barbell Russian twist is a great workout to strengthen your core and trim your abs to get the right shape. Apart from working on the abs, this exercise will work the thighs, hamstrings, shoulders, and obliques.

Put some weight on one end of a barbell and lock it. Use lightweight when starting to get the proper movement before putting on more weight. Light weights can be quite challenging if you do more reps (repetitions).

How to do it:

  1. Lift the weight above your eye level and hold it with both hands.
  2. Keep your arms straight and gradually lower the barbell to your right hip.
  3. Lift the weight back to the starting position before lowering it to your left hip.
  4. Keep your core engaged as you move the weight from one side to another.

4. Leg Raise

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs, quads
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Leg raises are a simple ab workout, but they can make a massive difference to your abs when performed well. Here’s how to do it.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor or on a mat. Hold onto something heavy at the back of your head. For instance, a bench or a chair can offer you the support you need here.
  2. With your legs straight, raise them until vertical. Remember to keep both your left leg and right leg aligned at all times.
  3. Gently lower them back in position while keeping your core engaged. Don’t drop them to the floor – tighten your core as you return to the starting position before performing the next rep.

5. Medicine Ball Russian Twist

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle abs, obliques
  • Equipment needed: Medicine ball and foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-30
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: The medicine ball Russian twist is another explosive version of the Russian twist that will give you a burning sensation while doing your ab exercises at home.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor and assume a sit-up position.
  2. Hold a medicine ball right above your knee with both hands.
  3. Explosively twist your body while moving the medicine ball to the left. Twist and move the ball to the right. That’s one rep.

6. Slow Hanging Leg Raises

best ab workout
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs, quads
  • Equipment needed: Overhead bar
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Slow-hanging leg raises will target your lower abs, external obliques, and hip flexors.

How to do it:

  1. Stand beneath a bar that is above your head. Reach out for the bar with both hands, giving you a hanging position.
  2. Keep your back straight, engage your core, and lift your legs by bending your knees to your waist height.
  3. Hold in place for about 2 seconds and lower the legs to the starting position.

7. Side Plank With Elevated Foot

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques
  • Equipment needed: A bench
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 30-60 seconds per side
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: After working on your abs using any of the above exercises, you should also focus on those obliques. Side planks with an elevated foot can ensure you target those thin muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a side plank position and keep both feet together.
  2. Engage your core and raise the left foot and the left arm.
  3. Hold this position for 1 minute, or 30 seconds as a beginner. Ensure you don’t hatch your back while in place.
  4. Switch sides and repeat.

8. Dumbbell Side Bend

best ab workout
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques
  • Equipment needed: Dumbbell
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12 on each side
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: You will require a dumbbell for this ab workout. This exercise works on those external obliques. Incorporating this exercise into your ab workout routine will help to provide a good definition of your outer ab sections.

How to do it:

  1. Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your palm facing inward.
  3. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Gradually bend toward your left foot as far as possible.
  4. Move to the starting position and perform 10 reps.
  5. Switch sides and hold the dumbbell using the right hand. Perform 10 reps.
  6. Increase the weight of the dumbbell for a tougher challenge.

9. Cable Trunk Rotations

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle abs, obliques
  • Equipment needed: Cable machine
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15 on each side
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Cable trunk rotations are a great exercise to work out your core stability, thanks to the dynamic nature of the movement and how simple it is to try next time you’re in the gym.

How to do it:

  1. Set up your cable machine at shoulder height.
  2. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart in front of the cable machine, holding the tensioned cable handle with both arms out in front of you.
  3. From this position, rotate your torso and straight arms away from the cable machine approximately 90 degrees.
  4. Once at 90 degrees, return to the neutral position with arms straight out in front of you.

10. Two-Point Bridge

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: The two-point bridge will target your abs, arms, legs, back, shoulders, chest, and neck. It’s a great workout routine for the entire body.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a push-up position.
  2. Hold in position and lift your left arm and right leg off the floor simultaneously.
  3. Stay in this position for 10 seconds, then relax to your starting position. Count this as one rep.
  4. Switch sides and hold for another 10 seconds. That’s the second rep.

11. Side Jackknife

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 2 for 15 seconds each
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: You will have to work on those obliques more often to give your abs the perfect frame from the sides. The side jackknife exercise is a must-do at-home ab workout routine. Here’s how to effectively perform this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a side plank position with your right elbow on the floor for balance.
  2. Hold the left hand on your temple or behind your ear. Keep the elbow pointed toward your feet.
  3. Raise your feet slightly above the floor while ensuring that your torso is in position.
  4. Hold this position for 15 seconds to feel the contraction on the left side of your waist.
  5. Relax and switch sides. Do the same for the right side.

12. Squat

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Middle abs, quads, glutes
  • Equipment needed: N/A
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Sure, you might question why this exercise is on this list. Most people ignore this exercise because they assume it only works on the lower body. However, it’s a compound exercise that can help strengthen your core. Both front and back squats can also give you an ideal posture.

Consider incorporating squats during leg workouts to keep things interesting. If you are following a strict 7-day six-pack program, work on your legs first. The last thing you need is to squat when you’re feeling weak.

How to do it:

  1. Strand straight with feet hip-width apart
  2. Tighten those stomach muscles
  3. Lower your back down, and keep it straight, as if you were going to sit on a chair. Keep those knees bent.
  4. Straight your legs to lift back up. Don’t let your knees buckle.
  5. Repeat movement

13. Ab Wheel Rollout

best ab workout
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs, delts, triceps
  • Equipment needed: Ab roller
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: Ab wheel rollout is a common ab exercise that most people practice at home and at the gym. Some studies indicate that this workout is even more effective than sit-ups, hanging leg raises, and reverse crunches. Here’s how to safely perform this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on the floor with a mat placed on your knees. Hold an ab wheel in position right below your shoulders.
  2. Tighten your abs and roll the wheel until your head is almost between your arms.
  3. Slowly roll yourself back to your starting position. That’s one rep.

14. Arms-High Partial Sit-Up

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Upper abs
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: The arms-high partial sit-up ab workout routine is good for newbies, especially if you don’t want to strain yourself. It’s a simple exercise that will work on your back, shoulders, arms, and abs.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a sit-up position.
  2. Start by raising your arms above your head as far as you can.
  3. Return to the starting position. That’s one rep.

15. V Sit-Up

  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Target muscles: Upper, middle, and lower abs
  • Equipment needed: A foam mat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 30 seconds

Benefits: V sit-up is an explosive exercise that will work on your lower, middle, and upper abs. If you’re struggling with belly fat, consider incorporating this exercise into your home ab workouts.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor facing up and extend your arms behind your head.
  2. Tighten your core and raise your feet slightly while at the same time raising your upper body. 
  3. Extend your arms to touch your feet, creating a V-shape.
  4. It might be difficult to touch your feet at first, but this should be easy once you’re flexible enough.

How To Train Your Abs Faster

best ab workout

Now you have all the best ab workouts that will get you ripped within weeks. Try the following short programs if you’re looking to train your abs within the shortest time possible. These exercises are an ideal option when you don’t have all the time to do hundreds of crunches.

3-Minute Ab Routine To Train Your Abs Faster

  • Leg raises — 30 seconds
  • Planks — 30 seconds
  • V sit-ups — 30 seconds
  • Medicine ball Russian twists — 30 seconds
  • Sit-ups — 30 seconds
  • Relax and stretch

3 Minute Plank Shifts To Train Your Abs Faster

  • Normal plank — 30 seconds
  • Plank with an elevated right foot — 30 seconds
  • Normal plank — 30 seconds
  • Side plank — 30 seconds
  • Plank with an elevated left foot — 30 seconds

RELATED: The Workout That’ll Get You ‘Gladiator 2’ Ripped Like Paul Mescal


Why Is Abs Training Important?

best ab workout

Besides getting a superb physique, training your abs more often will score multiple benefits for your muscles. Over time, this translates into improved physical performance. Ab workouts don’t just involve sit-ups and push-ups. This article will fill you in on other vital exercises that will get you those hard-won washboard abs in no time.

Just remember to maintain proper form at all times to minimise the risk of injury, so most of these workouts will require you to keep your feet flat or your knees bent, or your arms extended and sometimes your legs extended. These instructions are important and not just included as suggestions.

Before looking at these ab exercises, here are some benefits you stand to gain (4) by training your abs.

Improved Balance & Stability

An ab workout will strengthen your entire core, which will help enhance your body’s stability. This means that stronger abs are a clear sign of better balance and stability in everything you do. Therefore, getting the right balance is especially important for athletes. (5)

Correct posture is also an outward sign of confidence and strength, not only do women find this as one of the most attractive qualities in a man, but it will also go far in earning your respect around the office and with peers. Optics matter and good posture is the best optic of them all.

Reduced Back Pain

Weak abs also force your back muscles to work harder. Stronger abs can relieve the burden on your back muscles while at the same time protecting you from tension-related injuries.

Well-defined core muscles prevent your tummy from hanging, leading to a bad posture. Failure to exercise your abs could make your body hunch. Again, this puts more pressure on your back muscles to work harder. People who are overweight can attest that they often feel back pain because of their hunched posture. (6)

Lower Risk Of Injury

Ab workouts will make you stronger, and you will notice that you rarely struggle when performing other exercises. Your great posture will make it easy for you to get the perfect movements, which helps prevent injuries.

So, you might assume that home ab workouts are unnecessary because you perform other compound exercises like deadlifts and squats. However, the benefits of training your abs indicate that they are equally important and worth focusing on.

Again, just take note of all parts of a workout and note the smaller details like using a weight plate, keeping your shoulder blades upright, your legs in a straight line or your arms extended overhead. As above, none of these words should be taken with a grain of salt. If the exercise says to do something specific, it’s for a reason.

Better Performance

For sports players, in particular, stronger abs are an absolute must. If you’re playing a sport such as football, basketball, tennis or soccer, you’ll be required to constantly produce force with your limbs, which means turning your body frequently while trying to maintain posture. With stronger abs, your spine will be neutral and your core will be stable, reducing the risk of injury (as above) but also enhancing your performance. (7)

Easier Breathing

With stronger abs, your body will be stacked much better overall and hence it will be easier to breathe properly in all situations. Developing those stronger breathing muscles like your diaphragm and intercostals comes easier with better core strength according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (8)

A Slimmer Waistline

There’s more to a slimmer waistline than just looking good and helping your clothes fit well. Your waist circumference has long been known as a market for long-term health risks and the development of conditions such as diabetes. Six-pack abs are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also help you actually live a life without the added stress of lifestyle diseases.


What Are Washboard Abs?

best ab workout

The common term washboard abs refers to being able to see the individual bumps of someone’s rectus abdominis muscle. You need a solid core training program and a healthy diet to get to this point. For men, a flat stomach like this would typically be around 10% to 14% body fat. The term washboard abs obviously refers to the rigidity of a washboard, which is what a flat belly resembles.

Washboard abs and six-pack abs are usually thought of as synonymous but there is a key difference. Six-pack abs have a clear definition with 6 bulging muscles that are obvious, which is usually what people talk about when they refer to a bloke with strong definition in this muscle group. That means a washboard stomach is more in reference to a flat belly and is hence more used for women than men.

Regardless, throughout the article, we will refer to both interchangeably as they have come to mean the same thing. The goal is the same, after all — lose weight, look good, and feel better.


Anatomy Of Your Abs

best ab workout

Every time you hit the gym, it’s crucial to know which part of the body you are training and how best to train it.

There are five main muscles in this group: pyramidalis (found on each side of the linea alba), rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, and transversus abdominis (9).

Upper Abs

If you’ve tried an ab workout at home, you must have noticed that different exercises work on other parts of your abdominal muscles. After completing your reps, you may feel a burning sensation in the upper or lower abdominal muscles. Generally, upper abs exercises involve exercises that focus more on pulling your upper body.

Middle Abs

To get a six-pack, core exercises involve working on your middle abs. This part of your ab muscles is vital for flexing your spine.

Lower Abs

Working on your lower abs is more challenging for most people than the upper or middle abs. People who are overweight take time to see their lower abs form. Exercises to train your lower abs will also be discussed in this critique.


3 Tips To Make Your Abs Workouts More Effective

best ab workout

Exercising the same muscles every day might not be the best way to get the most from your ab training routine. The following tips should ensure you get the most from the few minutes you exercise your ab muscles. (10)

1. Variation Is Key

Always try to perform different ab exercises to ensure your ab muscles don’t adapt to your routine. If you performed lower ab exercises during a specific day, try switching things up the next time you train. This will give you the best workout.

2. Increase Your Intensity

You’ve often heard that you should either “go hard or go home.” Well, there’s no easy way out when working on your abs. You must focus on increasing your intensity. The goal is to challenge your ab muscles beyond what it has been used to. Combining variation with intensity will give you desirable results within a short period.

3. Train Your Mind

Ab exercises are engaging, and you must be mentally strong to push yourself to do an extra rep or more. So, you must train mindfully for the best results.

It doesn’t matter what training goals you’ve set for yourself. It’s never too late to start training your abs. Getting the physique you want is a challenge. The exercises pointed out here should help you get the ripped body you strongly desire within a couple of weeks. If you want to see the results of your hard work, you need to train your abs consistently.

RELATED: Jake Gyllenhaal’s Workout & Diet Plan To Get ‘Road House’ Ripped


The Best Ab Workout Exercises For Men — Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ab exercises & workouts to get a six pack quickly?

While, sadly, there’s not really any such thing as a quick fix, some of the best ab exercises to help you achieve that six-pack and lose that belly fat include the V sit-up, ab wheel rollout, leg raise, plank, and ab crunch.

What foods should I avoid if I want a six pack?

Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the typical foods that increase belly fat fast, so cut down on carbs and unhealthy fats. Any fast food and processed food should be avoided whenever possible. As long as you’ve got the discipline then there’s no way you can’t achieve those fitness goals.

How can I tone my abs fast?

You need to strengthen your core muscles whenever possible so make sure you’re planking for a good 30 to 60 seconds regularly, as well as doing side planks to work out your lateral abs. Squats and lunges work particularly well when it comes to toning your abs.


Citations

  1. What foods might help define a six-pack?, Medical News Today, 17 March 2021.
  2. The Role of Diet and Exercise for the Maintenance of Fat-Free Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate During Weight Loss, Sports Medicine, .
  3. Muscle activity in upper and lower rectus abdominus during abdominal exercises, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1 May 1996.
  4. Do Ab Exercises Help You Burn Belly Fat?, Healthline, 8 October 2019.
  5. Core stability: The centerpiece of any training program, Current Sports Medicine ReportsSpringer, 24 March 2014.
  6. Efficacy of Core Stability in Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain, Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 22 April 2021.
  7. Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength, Sports Medicine – Springer, 7 October 2012.
  8. The Effects of Deep Abdominal Muscle Strengthening Exercises on Respiratory Function and Lumbar Stability, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 25 June 2013.
  9. Fibre types in human abdominal muscles, Acta Physiologica Scandinavica – Wiley Online Library, December 1979.
  10. Functional load abdominal training: part 1, The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 1 July 1999.

The Boss Hunting Fitness Reviewer — Jono Castano, Certificate IV in Fitness, Precision Nutrition Level 1

Jono Castano is a Sydney-based celebrity personal trainer and certified nutrition coach who specialises in fitness, training, workouts and diet plans. He is the co-founder of the popular Acero fitness brand and fitness app and has become well-known for his extensive work with noted figures like Rebel Wilson, Jessica Mauboy, Lincoln Lewis, Joel Creasy, and The Veronicas.

Jono has built a large social media following with over 800,000 subscribers on Instagram. He has also been profiled by publications such as Men’s Health and has become one of the most recognisable fitness instructors in Australia.

  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • Credentials: Certificate IV in Fitness, Precision Nutrition Level 1
  • Expertise: Fitness, Training, Personal Training, Workouts, Diet Plan

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Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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