The Best Exercise For Abs to Build Your Six-Pack Fast

May 30, 2024

A man doing crunches to build biceps

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The best exercise for abs is the one that delivers the most effective results. However, the actual workouts and their durations often vary. In fact, if you ask 10 fitness experts the best way to achieve the coveted six-pack abdomen, they might recommend 10 different exercises. The good news is they all work. What matters is your willingness and ability to see it through, 

What Makes a Good Ab Exercise? 

The ideal workout for building a toned stomach targets the core ab muscles with each rep. Some exercises cover only one or two of these areas, but generally, the more muscles you can work at once, the closer you are to getting your six-pack. These are:

Rectus Abdominis

This is the largest major muscle in the abdominal region, making up the body’s upper and lower abs areas. The rectus abdominis spans almost your entire torso, holding internal organs in place and maintaining stability during movement. It’s also the primary muscle that makes the six-pack bumps when you have a trim, fit abdomen.

External and Internal Obliques

Your external obliques help rotate your body, controlling the momentum and returning to your natural position. These muscles run from the outer edges of your ribcage to the pelvic area. The internal obliques run diagonally in the opposite direction. They also allow you to rotate your torso and bend your body sideways. Exercising these areas can produce a more toned frame that enhances the six-pack physique. 

Transverse Abdominis

These muscles stabilize your core during movement. They’re located in the midsection of your body, just slightly above the waist. When you suck in your tummy, it’s your transverse abdominis doing the work. Exercising these areas is essential to maintaining strong and stable abdominal muscles.

5 Most Effective Exercises for Building Your Six-Pack

Building well-defined abs requires dedication, consistency and the right exercises targeting your abdominal muscles effectively. Here are five of the most effective workouts that can help you sculpt your abs:

1. Planking

The plank is one of the most common core exercises and one of the few workouts that don’t require special equipment. It primarily targets your core muscles, engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously and improving stability. Planking creates tension in your abs, which helps build your endurance and improve posture. 

Start your plank in a push-up position but with your weight resting on your forearms instead of your hands. Keep your body straight from head to heels and gently squeeze your glutes and quads to prevent sagging. Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.

2. Russian Twists

Russian twists are one of the best exercises for abs because they target the oblique muscles while also creating tension along the abdominal area. They also improve your rotational stability, which is essential for everyday activities and preventing injuries during other exercises.

To perform Russian twists, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your knees slightly, getting your feet a few inches off the ground. Lean back to approximately 45 degrees, engage your core, and twist your torso from side to side, lightly touching the ground beside you with your hand. Remember to keep your head straight and look ahead, maintaining the proper elevation. Also, ensure you’re twisting your trunk, not your shoulders or neck.

3. Crunches 

There are different variations of crunches, and all are effective at building your abs. Bicycle crunches are among the most popular of the lot because they target both the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles. The twisting action from the bicycle movement and the up-down motion from the crunch perfectly complement each other, effectively engaging multiple muscle groups in the abdomen.

To do a bicycle crunch, lie on your back with your hands behind your head, legs raised and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee and alternate sides as you do a pedaling motion. 

4. Flutter Kicks

Flutter kicks primarily target the lower abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis. They also engage your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles in the front of the thighs, improving overall fitness. 

Flutter kicks are stationary, so you can do them just about anywhere with a mat and adequate ground space. Simply lie flat on your back with your hands pressed palms down on either side of your body. Lift your right leg and bring it back down while simultaneously raising the left leg so it’s like you’re walking in the air.

If you want to enhance the exercise, try it in water. Wade to the pool’s deep end and practice a few flutter kicks while gripping the edges with your hand. The water adds a bit of resistance, causing you to exert more effort with each kick. Do the routine for two minutes with a 1-minute rest in between three sets. 

5. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a dynamic, full-body exercise that primarily targets the core muscles while engaging the shoulders, chest and legs. They strengthen your abdominal muscles, increase heart rate and improve calorie burn. 

Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your head slightly tilted like you’re looking ahead. This exercise is called mountain climbers because it mimics the motion of clambering up a steep incline while maintaining a steady momentum. It’s super easy to do and doesn’t require any special gear or accessories. 

Don’t Forget Your Dietary Changes 

The best exercise for abs will be ineffective if you don’t take care of your diet. Eating plenty of protein is key to building and maintaining healthy muscles. Think eggs, fish, chicken and lean meats while minimizing processed foods. Beans and lentils are great options, too and are rich in a host of nutrients, including magnesium, fiber and B vitamins. 

Remember to drink lots of water to replenish your lost fluids during exercise. You don’t want to risk the effects of dehydration on your journey to a more fit and toned body. 

Sticking to these dietary restrictions might seem rigorous, but they’re necessary if you’re trying to get chiseled abs as quickly as possible. 

The Best Exercise For Abs 

Incorporate these simple but super effective exercises into your workout routine consistently, gradually increasing intensity and repetitions as your stamina improves. Consistency, paired with a balanced diet and sufficient rest, will help you achieve your six-pack goals efficiently.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.