An impressive set of six-pack abs signifies a commitment to training and nutrition—and that’s no small consideration. 

Both bodybuilders and sport-specific athletes pursue abs, though athletes tend to view abs as a byproduct of their training, not a goal.

That’s why some guys end up with a washboard without focusing much on the abs. A full-body routine, coupled with a solid nutrition plan for more muscle, provides the perfect environment for abs to flourish. On the other hand, a guy who hasn’t dropped below 10% body fat is unlikely to see his abs regardless of how many abs-specific sets he knocks out. (You can read more about the nutrition-for-abs discussion here.) 

It’s worth noting here that producing abs should be an around-the-clock effort that goes beyond training and nutrition.  When you’re stuck in a meeting or in traffic, take an opportunity to work your abs by drawing your belly button in away from your belt buckle. This is not the same as sucking in your gut and holding your breath. Simply pull your belly button in. Do a set of 10 every 30 minutes over the course of your day.

This simple exercise not only works your abs but also promotes better posture. The abs stabilize the spine, after all, and you want to maintain a neutral spine in all lifts, not a rounded one.

Assuming you’ve dialed in your nutrition and developed an abs mindset, this ultimate workout will produce results. 


  • You’ll do this workout as a circuit. Perform 10 reps of the following six exercises (unless otherwise noted), back to back, without resting between exercises.
  • Do three circuits total. You may take a one-minute rest between circuits as needed.

Pete Williams is a N.A.S.M.-certified personal trainer, and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.