The Ultimate Guide to the Best Exercises to Help Reveal Your 6-Pack
Your six-pack is on its way! The important thing to remember is that, as Jillian Michaels has said, "You can't spot-reduce fat." You need to lose overall body fat to reduce your belly fat so you can show off your amazing abs. You can do this through diet and cardio, specifically HIIT workouts. While you're on your journey to get leaner, you still want to include these effective ab exercises to strengthen your core, and once your belly looks slimmer, you'll reveal your sculpted abs.
Shoulder Press and Side Crunch
- Stand holding dumbbells at your shoulders. With your palms facing forward, press the weights overhead, straightening your arms.
- As you bend your elbows to lower the weights, lift your left knee up toward your left elbow. Squeeze your abs to exaggerate the side crunch.
- Lower your leg while raising the weights overhead, and repeat the side crunch on the right. This completes one rep.
Standing Side Bend
- Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart holding a five- to 10-pound dumbbell over your head. Squeeze your head with your upper arms to fire up your core and protect your neck.
- Bend sideways to the right, squeezing your waist on the right side. Keep your neck as neutral as possible, looking forward, not down.
- Pull your left ribs down to return to standing upright. This focuses the work on your left obliques. Switch sides, and bend to the left to complete one rep.
Low to High Woodchop
- Squat, and twist left to hold the dumbbell on the outside of your left leg.
- Exhale, and lift the weight diagonally across your body, ending twisted to the right with the dumbbell above your head. Pivot on your left foot as needed.
- The move is a bit percussive, so focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the weight back up to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your spine in neutral, lift a five- to eight-pound medicine ball overhead.
- Begin to circle the ball to the left, in the largest circles you can make, while maintaining a still and stable torso.
- Circle eight times, then reverse directions for another eight reps to complete one set.
Standing Weighted Twist
- Stand with your knees slightly soft, holding a dumbbell at chest level.
- Keep your pelvis stable as you rotate your ribcage right and left, to complete one rep. Be sure to keep your abs pulled toward your spine as you twist from side to side.
High to Low Wood Chop
- Holding an eight- to 10-pound dumbbell overhead, twist to the left, pivoting your right foot as needed.
- Exhale, and slice the dumbbell across your body to the right as you raise your right knee, bringing the weight to the outside of your right hip.
- Raise the weight back to starting position, and lightly tap your right toes to the floor. This completes one rep.
Reverse Lunge With Twist
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Hold a five- to 10-pound medicine ball with both hands with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Keep your core stable, and take a large step back with your right foot, planting your foot and then lowering your body until both legs are bent in right angles.
- As you sink into the lunge, twist your torso to the left.
- Bring your torso back to center, and exhale as you straighten your legs. Bring your feet back together, and then step back on your left leg, twisting to the right.
- This completes one rep.
Down Dog Abs
- Start in a Downward Dog pose, actively pushing your weight into your heels while reaching your tailbone to the sky. Lift your left leg up, squeezing the left glute.
- Exhale, and rock your weight forward over your hands, drawing your left knee toward your nose and pulling your abs to your spine to round your back.
- Inhale and lift your left leg up as your push your weight back into your heels. This complete one rep.
Plank With Bunny Hop
- Begin in a plank position with feet touching.
- Pull your abs in, and jump your feet to the right, bringing your knees toward your right elbow. Your torso will twist to the right.
- To complete one rep, jump your feet back to plank.
Plank and Rotate
- Begin in a plank position holding a five-pound dumbbell in each hand, keeping your wrists stiff to protect the joints. Open your feet a little wider than hip distance.
- Lift your left hand to the ceiling, twisting through your entire torso — keep the motion smooth and controlled. Your pelvis will rotate, but keep it level without letting it raise or drop.
- Bring your left hand back to the floor, and repeat this action on the other side to complete one rep.
Alternating Two-Point Plank
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet in line with your hips. Lift your left leg off the ground so your heel is even with your pelvis.
- Keeping your torso steady, reach your right arm forward. Really brace through your abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Hold this position for about three seconds. It's harder than you think!
- Return to plank, then switch sides, lifting your right leg off the ground and reaching your left arm forward. Hold for three seconds and return to plank. This is one rep.
Ball Pike to Plank
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your shins on the ball.
- Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine and use your abs to fold your body in half, pulling the ball forward toward your hands as your pelvis moves up in the air.
- Your toes will move onto the top of the ball and your back will become perpendicular to the floor like a handstand. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
- Lower yourself back into a plank position, and do not allow your pelvis to sag below your shoulders.
Standing Ab Rollout
- Place your palms on the ball, and stand with your legs wide, about three or so feet apart. Walk the ball out so your back is straight and your hips are in the same line as your ankles.
- From here, lean your body forward, allowing the ball to roll down your forearms. Stop once your elbows reach the ball and you're balancing on your tiptoes.
- Then use your core and legs to get your body back to the starting position. Keep your abs engaged throughout this move.
- Lie on your back holding an exercise ball above your chest, extending your feet up toward the ceiling.
- On an exhale, move your arms and legs away from each other, lowering both toward the ground. Inhale to bring them back toward each other, and transfer the ball from your hands to your legs.
- Then lower your arms and legs toward the floor away from each other.
- Bring them back together, transferring the ball back to your hands to complete one rep.
- Start face down on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees.
- Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
- Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
- Keep your back flat — don't let it droop or you'll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
- Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
Elbow Plank With Hip Dips
- From an Elbow Plank position, slowly rotate your spine to lower your right hip to just above the floor. Come back to Elbow Plank.
- Now lower your left hip toward the floor.
- This counts as 1 rep.
Twisting Side Plank
- Come into a side plank on your right side, with your feet stacked one on top of the other and your weight on your right elbow with your fingers reaching away from your body, palm down.
- Place your left arm behind your head, and inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and pull your navel to your spine to engage your deep abs, and rotate your left ribcage toward the floor. Stay there for a second, and deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine even more.
- Return to starting position. This counts as one rep.
- Start on your knees. If this hurts your knees, fold up a mat or towel and kneel on that for a little cushioning. Your thighs should be parallel.
- Hold a five- to eight-pound dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, lean back, squeezing your glutes, and use your abs to keep your spine straight. As you inhale, return your torso back to the starting position.
- Lie on your back, and reach your arms rigidly to your sides, off the floor. Lift your legs off the floor, and point them, so they are at about a 45-degree angle. Lift your head, so your shoulders are off the floor as well.
- When you're ready to begin, lift your upper torso off the floor, and bend your knees. You can lean back to make this move harder or come up more to make it easier. Slowly lower your upper body back down to the floor, straightening out your legs as you do so. Stop when your back is on the floor, but not your head, shoulders, or legs.
- This completes one rep.
- Begin sitting, balanced just behind your sit bones, and rock back slightly to lift your feet off the floor; gently pull your knees to your chest.
- Exhale, pull your navel to your spine, and lean back slightly as you open your arms to the sides and straighten your legs.
- Inhale and return to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Lie on your back, and open your legs into a diamond shape (aka butterfly legs) with the soles of your feet pressed together and knees out wide. Extend your arms overhead.
- Inhale to curl your torso up, and tap the floor in front of your feet to stretch your glutes a bit.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
- Lie on your back with your knees open and the soles of your feet together (in a butterfly position). Lengthen your arms overhead so they are resting on the floor.
- Exhale and bring your hands and knees toward each other, performing a full-body crunch. Your shoulder blades should be off the mat as you perform a small reverse crunch, lifting your pelvis a bit off the mat. Hold this position for a moment, and really feel your abs squeezing.
- Slowly lower your arms and feet back to starting position to complete one rep.
- Lying on your back, lift your legs in the air with your knees bent. Place your hands on the floor beside you.
- Without momentum, use your lower abs to slowly curl your hips off the floor and into your chest. Slowly lower them back to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
- Begin lying on the floor with your arms out wide to the sides, making a T with your body.
- Sit up lifting your right leg, and twist to bring your left hand to your right toes. Slowly roll back down, and repeat on the other side.
- This completes one rep.
- Start lying on your back with your arms reaching toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and roll up toward sitting while lifting your left leg up. Pause at the top and reach for your toes before rolling down slowly back to the mat, then perform on the other side. This completes one rep.
- Begin on your back with your legs straight and arms raised toward the ceiling.
- Roll up to sitting, focusing on the abs rounding your back. Roll back down to the mat slowly, one vertebra at a time.
- This completes one rep.
- Start on your back with your elbows resting on the floor at a 90-degree angle.
- With your core engaged, roll up to almost sitting while bringing your right knee up to meet your left elbow. It should feel a little like running.
- With control, straighten your leg as you slowly lean your back down, vertebra by vertebra, until your shoulders touch the mat last.
- Alternate with your other leg to complete one rep.
- Begin seated at the front edge of your mat, with knees bent and legs parallel. Reach your arms toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.
- Exhale and pull abs deeply toward your spine, and begin to roll down the floor one vertebra at a time; the movement should be smooth and controlled. Once your head reaches the mat, reach your arms overhead so they are parallel to the floor.
- Exhale and begin to roll up, peeling your spine off the mat and coming all the way to sitting. Inhale your arms up toward the ceiling. This completes one rep.
Double Crunch Pulse With Medicine Ball
- Begin lying on your back with your legs in the air, toes toward the ceiling, holding the medicine ball over your chest with straight arms. Engage your abs to press your low back into the mat while lifting your head, neck, and upper back off the mat.
- Exhale and round your low back so the bottom of your pelvis raises as you lift your upper body an inch higher off the mat. Aim the medicine ball toward your ankles as you perform this double crunch.
- Inhale, and lower your pelvis and upper back an inch toward the floor. Continue this slow pulsing motion.
- Lie on your back, and lift your legs and arms up, so they are extended toward the ceiling. Lift your upper back off the floor, reaching your hands toward your feet.
- Lower your legs toward the floor while reaching your arms overhead, keeping your shoulders off the mat and lower back pressed into the mat.
- Repeat the crunch motion to complete one rep.
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground (pull your abs down to also target your deep abs). Interlace your fingers, and put your hands behind your head.
- Bring your knees in toward your chest, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
- Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee. Make sure your ribcage is moving and not just your elbows.
- Now switch sides, and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep (and to create the "pedaling" motion).
- Lie flat on your back. Extend your arms so they're against the sides of your body with your palms pressing into the floor, or bend your elbows and place your palms under the back of your head. Bend your knees and draw them into your ribs. This will make it easier to pull your navel in toward your spine and actively press your lower back flat on the ground.
- Lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to engage your abs and pressing your lower back into the ground. Keeping your core strong, slowly lower your right leg down toward the ground until it is a few inches above.
- Then slowly scissor your legs, lifting your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down toward the ground. This completes one rep.
- Lie on your right side, with your left hand behind your head and right hand on the floor.
- Press down into your right hand as you raise your straight legs off the floor, bringing your torso toward your legs.
- Lower yourself back to the floor with control. This completes one rep.
V-Sit With Single-Arm Chest Fly
- Begin sitting with your heels planted about two feet from your butt, holding the weights at chest level with a slight bend in your elbows. Lean back a few inches, pulling your abs toward your spine to keep your spine long and straight.
- Your left arm remains still, as you open your right arm to the side, making sure the weight doesn't go beyond your shoulder.
- Bring your right arm back to center and repeat on the left side to complete one rep.
Seated Russian Twist
- Holding a dumbbell in both hands, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels off the floor.
- Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight.
- Pull your navel to your spine, and twist slowly to the left, bringing the weight to your left side. The movement is not large and comes from your ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center, and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
Dumbbell Crossover Punch
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, about two feet from your butt. Hold weights, five- to eight-pound dumbbells, in both hands at your chest with your elbows on the floor.
- Keeping your hands at your chest, roll up to a sitting position. Twist your ribs to the left as you "punch" your right hand to the outside of your left knee.
- Bring your right hand back to your chest as you untwist, bringing your torso back to the center, and roll down to the ground.
- Repeat the sit-up, twisting to the right side to complete one rep.
Tabletop to Reverse Pike
- Start off sitting on your bum, so your hands are planted eight inches behind you. Bend your knees, and place your heels about a foot away from your hips. Make sure they are hips-width distance apart.
- Inhale and lift your hips off the ground so your torso is parallel with the floor and your arms are straight. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders and your ankles underneath your knees, so make small adjustments if you need to. Lower your head behind you to increase the stretch in your chest and neck.
- Hold for a complete breath, and then keeping your arms straight, exhale to lower your hips and straighten your legs, so your hips are hovering above the floor. Engage your abs and try to keep your spine long as you balance on your heels and hands. After a complete breath, inhale and push yourself back into the first position.
Lying Overhead Reach
- Lie on your back with your hips and knees both at 90-degree angles, using your low abs to press your lower back into the mat. Holding five- to eight-pound dumbbells, raise your arms toward the ceiling, keeping your elbow joint slightly bent.
- Reach your arms overhead, tapping the dumbbells on the floor above your head. Do not let your back arch away from the floor as you lower the weights.
- Raise your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep.
Overhead Reach With Leg Lower
- Lie on your back with your arms reaching toward the ceiling, holding one weight with both hands. With the sole of your left foot on the mat, bring your right toes toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and lower your arms and leg toward the floor, keeping your lower back touching the mat.
- Lie on your back with a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms straight up above your chest, with a slight bend at each elbow. Raise your legs up to tabletop, with knees and hips bent to 90-degree angles.
- Inhale and open your arms to your sides, with a slight bend at each elbow. Exhale as you bring your arms back up to starting position.
- Once your arms are back straight, lift your upper back and curl up toward your legs, pushing your weights toward your shins. As you curl up, stretch your legs out in front of you.
- Uncurl your spine slowly as you lower your upper body to the floor while bending your knees back to 90-degree angles. Once your head is back on the floor, release your arms to back out by your sides, making sure not to let your upper arms touch the floor.
Resistance Band Flutter Kicks
- Sit on a mat or carpeted floor. Loop one handle of the resistance band on either foot. Hold onto the middle of the tube with both hands, and lie on your back.
- Draw your navel toward your spine, and press your low spine into the floor to protect your lower back, then lift both legs up so they are almost pointing straight up toward the ceiling.
- Holding the band securely, scissor your legs up and down one at a time, starting with the left leg. Move slowly, and point your toes.
- To make this move more difficult, lower your legs so they are about six to 10 inches above the floor — illustrated in the lower image. Make sure to keep your abs scooped when you work with your legs close to the ground.