The 5 best ab exercises for building six-pack abs

An extremely fit man is standing in a dark room, with only his body exposed. By looking at his sixpack abs, it's obvious that he have been doing ab exercises.

Having six-pack abs isn’t all about which ab exercises you’re doing in the gym. Sure, working your abs will help you achieve nicer abs and maybe even make your dream of having visible abs easier to obtain. That being said, you’ll never have a visible six-pack if your fat percentage is too high. Lifting heavy, being in a calorie deficit, and eating the right amount of the different macros will all help you towards your goal of six-pack abs.

Here is my 5 favorite ab exercises for building a strong set of abs.

Still not sure what it takes to have visible abs? Here is our guide on how to get abs

Hanging leg raises

Making a list of the best ab exercises would be impossible without including hanging leg raises. While it’s possible to mention a lot of reasons why hanging leg raises is a go-to ab exercise for most gymgoers, there’s one thing that makes them stand out. Whether you’re a beginner or already have some strong abs, there’s a variation for you.

Bent-knee raises in a captain’s chair is a good move for beginners, slowly work your way up to straight leg raises, and progress to a hanging bar. When you’re able to do straight-leg toe-to-bar raises, you’ll have an extremely strong core.

For heavier sets, holding a Dumbell or medicine ball between your legs works well. If you add a twist at the top you’ll be able to target deeper rotational muscles and obliques. This is why hanging leg raises is my favorite ab exercise.

Remember, no matter which variation you’re doing, you should always use your abs, not the momentum to get your legs up as high as possible.

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Cable crunch

Cable crunches are another ab exercise that works well for all fitness levels. Any cable machine can be used and it’s easy to adjust the resistance to fit your desired rep range.

It’s even a fairly simple exercise to perform but still, quite a lot are doing it wrong. It’s easy to target the hip flexors and shoulders instead. Here are four tips to remember if you want to perform cable crunches efficiently.

  1. Keep your hips forward and flex your glutes. The further you’re sitting back, the more it’ll target the hip flexors.
  2. Round your back during each rep.
  3. Keep your hands against the side of your head to avoid targeting your shoulders.
  4. Keep your neck natural, don’t tuck your chin.

If you follow these four steps, you’ll see why cable crunches had to be on this list.

Wondering if you have to do cardio to lose weight?

Russian twist

To target the obliques, you’ll have to do one of the three following movements. Either bend to the side, suck in your belly, or rotate your trunk. By adding weight to the twist, you’ll hit the obliques in two of the three possible ways.

Don’t round your back like you would doing cable crunches but instead, try to keep it straight.

Most believe that their feet should be lifted from the ground when doing this exercise. Yeah, that’s true if you have the strength and technique to keep your feet still and not letting them sway from side to side. If you don’t you’ll be better off leaving them in the ground until you’re strong enough.

Exercise ball pike

Did you know that the exercise ball can be used for more than just sitting on? Shocked me too.

Actually, the exercise ball pike has been proved to be one of the best ab activating exercises out there if done correctly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how.

  1. Take a plank position with the ball positioned under your thighs. Your shoulders are rotated back and down and your legs are straight behind you. Take a moment to find stability.
  2. Use your hands to “walk” yourself forward until the ball is under your thighs or knees. The further forward you go, the higher and less stable your pike will be. Experiment with this to find the right distance for you to do a pike.
  3. Inhale.
  4. Exhale and with one motion, use your abdominal muscles to pull your hips into a pike position Your hips should be bent, legs straight and your arms extended into the floor. Keep your chest wide and your shoulders far from your ears. Going slow while pressing your legs into the ball will help you with stability.
  5. Inhale: Go down and get into the plank position again slowly.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for as many reps as you want.

With these steps, you’ll be ready to add exercise ball pikes to your ab workout.

Ab roll-out

The ab roll-out wheel has gained increased popularity over the last few years and it’s not without reason. According to studies, the ab roll-out is as effective, if not more than other ab exercises such as hanging leg raises.

But why is the ab wheel so effective? As you roll out, the abs will try to make sure that your spine won’t collapse under the weight of your body.

Ab roll-outs work well for everybody, no matter their current level. You can’t do reps while going all the way out on your knees? Reduce the distance you’re moving during each rep and slowly work your way towards full reps.