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7 Best Abs For Men and Women

Athletes of all sports from baseball to football to hockey base their physical training on improving the strength of their core using compound movements. That's great for professional athletes, but what about guys who just want to get a ripped six-pack?

First off, let's acknowledge a hard truth: Not all abs are created equal. Some guys need to work their belly to exhaustion before they can carve out abs, while other dudes seem to get  their abs to pop without a single situp.

Regardless of where you fit on the fitness spectrum, effectively training the core comes down to the three planes of motion: frontal, sagittal, and transerve. Doing abs exercises in a circuit style keeps the intensity high and will likely lead to more fat loss.

Ready to get ripped? Let these 8 abs exercises will be the last guide you'll ever need.

Cable Crunch

The cable crunch is one of my favorites because it’s weighted and targets the entire rectus abdominis.

You can use it to hit the obliques as well by doing twisting reps where you touch your right elbow to your left knee, following by a regular straight rep, followed by one where your left elbow touches your right knee, back to the middle, and so forth.

Captain’s Chair Leg Raise

This exercise is one of the best for developing both the rectus abdominis, including the “lower abs,” and obliques.

You can start with knees bent but you want to work toward legs straight. Then, as you get stronger, you can add weight by snatching a dumbbell in between your feet.

 Mountain Climber

Think of the mountain climber as a moving plank. You perform a mini crunch when you explosively draw one knee into your chest.

What makes this move so difficult, however, is that your core has to work overtime to keep your body stable and straight every time you lift a foot off of the floor, according to Gaddour.

“You can also do it interval-style, making it a serious conditioning move to ramp up your heart rate and burn a ton of calories,” he says. For example, do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat for 4 minutes.

Resisted Reverse Crunch

Lie on your back on the floor and wrap the band around the arches of your feet. Cross the ends of the band over each other to make an “X” and grasp the ends with opposite hands. Bend your hips and knees so that your knees are near your chest and then crunch your torso off the floor. Extend your legs while you raise your arms overhead—keep your shoulder blades off the floor. That’s one rep.

Medicinale Ball seated Knee Tuck

Sit on a bench and squeeze the medicine ball between your feet. Extend and elevate your legs out in front of you and extend your torso so that your body forms a straight line. Hold on to the bench for support. Crunch your torso forward and bring your knees to your chest.

Dragon Flag

Find an anchor to hold onto with arms extended overhead—like a chair, bench, or closed door. (We used a floor anchor in the photo above.) Lie faceup with knees bent. Shifting weight into shoulders, engage core and lift feet overhead (think shoulder stand). Try to keep legs as straight as possible. Lower legs, without allowing them to touch floor, then repeat. Do 3 to 5 slow and controlled reps.

Note: Do not perform this exercise if you have preexisting shoulder issues. Once in shoulder stand, look straight ahead, never side-to-side, to protect your neck from injury.

Hanging Leg Raises

Start by hanging from a pull-up bar with your feet off the floor. Contract your abs and tuck your hips underneath you. Raise your legs up towards the bar without swinging, using only your core strength. As your legs come up, relax your glutes and tense your abs pushing into your armpits and lift them as high as you can. Lower slowly to keep core muscles engaged for max benefits. Repeat.