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The hallmark of fitness is a nice six-pack, because it not only represents a certain level of effort in the gym, but also maintaining a relatively low bodyfat percentage.
For this, both diet and exercise play important roles, but the reward is a set of abs that are the envy of everyone you know. Here are six abs exercises to get you that highly sought, but rarely achieved, holy grail: the six-pack.
Perform one set of each exercise three times a week. These exercises are of sufficient difficulty that one set will be a good start. Shoot for a rep range of 8-12. Once you can consistently get 15 reps with good form, and still make it through the workout, add another set.
Rest: 90-120 seconds
Lie face-up with your legs straight, arms at your sides, palms facing down. Raise your legs and torso 45° off the floor. (You should look like a “V”.) Reach your hands alongside your legs as high as you can without rounding your back.
Key point: This one is tough, but focus on contracting the abs to move your body.
Attach a D-handle to a low-pulley cable and stand so your left side faces the weight stack. Grasp the handle with your left hand, keeping your arm by your side, and place your right hand on your hip. With your head facing forward, slowly bend to the left. Return to standing, repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Key point: Granted, obliques aren’t abs, but this movement is an integral part of any abs workout.
Lie face-up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms toward your knees, holding a lightweight plate with both hands. Keeping your arms extended, slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor moving into a full crunch.
Key point: Again, focus on contracting your abs to do the work. Use a light weight and anchor your feet if needed.
Lie face-up with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms extended overhead with your hands clasped together. (Your upper arms should be alongside your ears.) Keeping your arms straight and alongside your head, curl your torso forward, raising your shoulders off the floor. Pause, then return to the start.
Key point: Another great way to hit the abs with extra overload: perform shortly after the weighted crunch for a deep burn.
Get into a pushup position on an exercise ball: hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and your legs extended behind you, feet up on a ball. Maintain a straight line from head to toe, and push back slightly such that your arms are out in front of you. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
Key point: This ain’t your grandma’s plank. Your abs and entire midsection will be screaming by the end of this.
Lie face-up and tuck your hands under your pelvis, palms down. Keeping your legs straight and feet together, raise your legs so your heels point toward the ceiling. With your head and shoulders flat on the mat, lift your glutes off the floor and lift your feet toward the ceiling. At the top of the movement, twist your hips to the left (your feet should point to the left). Lower your legs back to the start (feet suspended off the floor), then lift up and twist to the right. Alternate sides for reps.
Key point: A great way to finish off your abs. Start with your hips on the ground if needed, and progress to the exercise as described.