There’s an ongoing debate about whether you need to train your abs with an extra load or just use high reps with body-weight exercises to make them stand out. We’ll settle it right now: You need both. Heavy training muscles up your abs as it does for every other body part, so avoiding it is a mistake. Still, the problem most people have with training their abs heavy is the lower-back pain that can result from weighted crunches and sit-ups. The solution? The kneeling cable crunch, which allows you to train your six-pack against strong resistance without aggravating the lower back. Perform it at the beginning of your routine when you’re fresh to avoid injury. 

How to Do It

Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. Kneel down facing the stack so your knees are bent 90 degrees. Allow your arms to be stretched overhead -you should feel tension on the cable and a stretch in your abs. Crunch your chest toward your hips and pull with your arms until your head is between your knees and your abs are fully contracted.

Sample Ab Workout

Kneeling Cable Crunch

Sets: 4   Reps: 8-12

Lying Bent-Knee Raise

Sets: 4   Reps: 12-15

Lie on your back and bend your hips and knees 90 degrees. Raise your hips off the floor and toward your chest.

Side Plank

Reps: Hold for 90-seconds total (each side)

Rest on your left forearm and the outside of your left foot with your hips off the floor. Hold your body straight. Perform as many sets as it takes to reach 90 seconds

Quick Tip: Keep your hips down-do not bounce into each rep. You must keep the tension on your abs. 

Editors Pick: “Whether done kneeling, standing or with one arm at a time, this is my favorite ab exercise. When you perform them correctly you’ll feel them from top to bottom and along the side – M&F EIC Shawn Perine