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5 Best Six Pack Ab Exercises

A set of six – or eight – perfectly crafted abs is at the top of most MH readers' wish lists, but most men and women don't know how to make this muscle-building wish come true. There's so much more to building a cobblestoned core than constant crunches; not to mention the fact too many reps of this ab-crafting staple can do serious damage to your lower back. It's time to expand your armoury in the search for superior abs.

 Half Kneeling Vertical Pallof Press

HOW TO DO IT: Attach a triceps rope to a cable machine and turn away from it while holding the ends of the rope in your hands on either side of your head. Drop into the bottom position of a lunge, with your front knee bent 90 degrees and your rear knee touching the floor. Brace your core and press the ends of the rope overhead until your arms are fully extended. Pause, and lower them. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

WHY IT WORKS: "This move forces your abs to battle against the backward pull of the weight stack," says Gentilcore. "That's a new stimulus for most guys, making it a good core builder that also smokes your shoulders."

 Cable Rotation

Stand holding a cable with both hands out in front of you at just under shoulder height. Keeping your arms fixed and straight and your abs engaged, rotate your upper body to the left, then back to center, and then to the right, and then back to center. That’s one rep Alternate sides for one set of 10 complete reps.

Dragon flag

Lie back and hold the bench behind your head. Bend your knees and kick your legs up towards the ceiling, bringing your backside and back off the bench. Slowly move your body back down to starting position, then repeat.

Top tip: It might make it easier, but don’t swing your legs back up to the top of the rep. Instead, slowly pull your legs into a crunch before extending them upwards – it’s two moves for the pain of one.

 Barbell Landmine

Wedge one end of a barbell in the corner of two walls. Lift the barbell up by the other end and hold it on your chest (a). Next, press the barbell directly out from your chest with both hands, fingers laced (b). Keeping your arms straight, rotate from your shoulders to one side, then to the other. Return to the start position (c).

Hanging leg raise

Grab a pull-up bar and lower yourself into a dead hang. Let your legs straighten and pull your pelvis back slightly. Tense your core and raise your legs until your thighs are perpendicular to your torso. Hold then lower slowly back to the starting position.

Top tip: Let your legs dead hang at the bottom of each rep. This will force you to generate movement with your abs and stop you relying on the momentum of the down swing to get back up. If you’re swinging, you’re not winning.