No one will dispute the fact that you need to train you core, the general area that connects all of your fleshy stuff from below the chest and above the waist, all the way around. The core provides a stable base to produce, reduce, and redirect force with the limbs of the body.
But some people will argue that directly training the anterior core—or front, which includes the rectus abdominis (the “six pack”)—is unnecessary because big and heavy compound movements like the squat and deadlift already work it sufficiently.
The quest for washboard abs doesn’t begin and end with abdominal workouts, but they are of paramount importance. The aim of this workout is to comprehensively train all the muscles of the core (alternating between upper and lower abs) to produce a perfect chiselled six-pack.
Aim to perform this workout between 2-4 times per week, either as a ‘standalone’ session or bolted on to the end of your usual routine. With no rest in between moves, it should take you just 10 minutes to complete. this is the quickest way to get a six-pack.
The Routine (Repeat 3 Times):
- The Overhead Crunch: 12 reps
- Reverse Crunch: 12 reps
- Janda Sit-up: 12 reps
- Frozen V Sit: 12 reps
- Extended Plank: 45 seconds
1. The Overhead Crunch:
Why: By extending your arms you add a longer ‘lever’ to the exercise, placing a greater strain on the upper region of the rectus abdominis.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms straightened behind you.
- Then, keeping your arms straight above your head, perform a traditional crunch.
- The movement should be slow and controlled.
Related article: The Only Back Workout You Need for That Perfect V-Shape Torso
2. The Reverse Crunch:
Why: Although it’s important to remember that your rectus abdominis is actually one long muscle that travels from your lower chest to your pelvis and that most abdominal specific exercises train the entire muscle, the reverse crunch will emphasise the lower part of the stomach muscle
- Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest until they’re bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed.
- Contract your abs to curl your hips off the floor, reaching your legs up towards the ceiling, then lower your legs back down to their original position without letting your feet touch the floor.
- The exercise should be slow and controlled, with no leg swinging or overuse of hip flexors.
- Pay particular attention to the downward phase – it’s tempting to let your legs drop, but they key is to maintain tension in the abdominals throughout the entire exercise.
Related article: 3 Of The Most Beneficial Exercises for a Bigger Broader Chest
3. Janda Sit-up:
Why: The theory is that by contracting your hamstrings, you disengage your hip flexors, which in turn makes the muscles of the stomach work that much harder during the exercise.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands placed behind your head.
- Then try ‘digging’ your heels into the floor, contracting your hamstrings, whilst performing an ordinary crunch.
Related article: The Top 9 Best Thigh And Calf Exercises Ever Devised In One Workout
4. Frozen V Sit:
Why: After specifically targeting (and pre-exhausting) the upper and lower regions of the rectus abdominis muscle, the frozen V-sit exercise is a great way to comprehensively train the stomach muscles in their entirety in one exercise.
- Lie down on your back with your arms and legs outstretched and your hands and feet lifted just above the floor.
- Begin the exercise by simultaneously raising your torso and legs up to touch your feet.
- Hold for the required time.
5. The Extended Plank:
Why: Very similar to the traditional plank, this specifically trains the transverse abdominis muscle – the deepest layer of abdominal muscle which wraps around the whole midsection. By extending your hands past the shoulders you force the muscles involved in the plank to work over a larger (and more difficult) range of movement.
- Get into a press-up position, placing your hands around 10 inches in front of your shoulders, with the toes of your shoes placed against the floor.
- Hold this position with your back straight and try to continue to breathe as normal.