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Before we get into ab workouts, it's always important to remember the most important thing in your quest for definition is low overall body fat. Your core can be the strongest in the gym, but it will never show if a layer of fat is packed away right over the top of your abs! Cut back on body fat by jogging, swimming, playing high-intensity sports—anything that gets you sweating. The lower your body fat the higher chance you have of showing some lines on the stomach area.. and not lines from fat rolls!
Remember though, no exercise regimen is complete without a proper diet. The workouts below and some anaerobic exercises will help get you fit, but a healthy diet will put you over the edge into the killer ab zone. Eat right if you want the abs to pop!
1. The Ab Pulldown
We're starting off strong with this one, the ab pull down is a guaranteed way to get your abdominal to really pop out and be noticeable. This is one that you're going to want to focus on to get that six-pack look.
A machine is necessary for this one which takes away from the practicality, but the ab pull-down has to be included if you want your abs to pop. Luckily, just about every gym has a pull-down machine. Commonly used for tricep and bicep workouts, but don't be afraid to get in there and use it for the ab pull down.
The pull-down machine (shown below) has varying handle types. The one you'll want to go with is a rope grip. Once the rope grip is on, simply adjust the height of the starting point to the top, or near the top depending on your height, and pull down with your arms so you can comfortably hold the two rope grips with hands slightly above your head. From this kneeling position, keep your arms above your head, and with your core tight pull down towards the ground by bending at the waist. Don't use your arms to pull and don't pull low enough to harm your back. Just enough to get a comfortable lift in.
Now, everyone always asks what weight to use, but for this one, it's about whatever feels most comfortable to you! experimenting with different weights isn't a problem since the weight will be on a pulley system, so try as many different weights as you want until you get one that's challenging and fitting. Just be sure that if you want to have a challenging and rewarding workout, do a high amount of reps if you choose a lower weight but 8 to 10 a set if you have a high, more challenging weight.
2. The Digger
A lot of people are able to get solid upper abdominals but are unable to complete a six-pack because of the lower abs. This is due in large part to the fact most ab workouts focus on the upper half of your abs, leaving out the bottom portion; this is where the digger will come in handy.
Unlike the ab pull down, no fitness equipment is needed for the digger, although you can use a bench if you would like to. This one is convenient for at-home workouts so feel free to bust out some diggers at any time of the day. Remember that abs can be worked out at any interval! Use this to your advantage and work out those abs as much as possible.
Overall, the digger is a pretty easy exercise to execute. Start in a laid-down position on your back with your feet slightly off the ground (six inches) and your hands on the back of your head. From here, take your legs straight up until your body and legs make a 90-degree angle. Bend the knees until your thighs are touching your chest, then straighten your legs to the starting position. Now you can repeat.
If you are using a bench, simply do the same exercise, but instead of holding the back of your head, hold onto the underside of a bench. You should be positioned so that the flat large portion of the tailbone is resting on the edge of the bench so that if you let go of the bench with your hands you will tilt forwards towards the ground. The bench digger requires a little more practice and is the more challenging workout.
3. Russian Twists
Don't be intimidated by the name! The Russian twist is a good ab workout, but nothing a beginner can't do. The Russian twist can be completed with no equipment, but a plate or medicine ball can be introduced to the workout to add a degree of difficulty and extra push to your workout. The Russian twist is often left out of workouts designed to build the six-pack people aspire to, but it is important to build the side abs as well as just on the front to be able to look the best you possibly can. The Russian twist will provide a great workout for the side wall of your abs, and also give a slight workout to the front wall of your abs in the process.
The starting position for the twist is simply seated with shoulders and legs off of the ground. You should basically be balanced on your butt only. The balancing will engage your core further with tiny adjustments tightening and releasing your abs. Once in the starting position, clasp both hands together, and move them from side to side touching the ground on either side with each movement. Be sure to stay balanced while you're doing this to properly engage your core.
For a more advanced version of the twist simply hold a plate or medicine ball during the workout and touch the bottom of the equipment to the ground rather than your hands. The weight used will depend on the person, but pick a weight you think will be appropriate and test it out. If it is too heavy simply try less and of course increase your weight if you want a more challenging workout.
The V-Up is pretty much what the name implies, you'll be making a V shape with your body. Coincidentally, this workout is also good for the lower abs and getting the "V" cut look in your lower abs that most people will want. The V-Up is a great overall ab workout, in that it covers many parts of the abdominal and your abs are constantly working throughout the entire exercise, whether you are engaging in the activity or simply balanced resting in the ready position.
The starting position for your V-Up is pretty similar to the Russian twist starting position. You will be balanced on your butt again with everything else off of the ground, but instead of a seated position, you will be in a somewhat laying position with your head and shoulders just slightly off of the ground.
Once in the starting position, bring your legs and hand together by bending at the waist and keeping your abs contracted until your hands and feet can come together as shown in the picture. Keep balanced the entire workout to keep your core engaged.
Reading around it seems as though people are down on the sit-up lately but it can be a very valuable tool in your quest for a six-pack. As long as you are properly performing them and integrating other exercises within your workout, feel free to use the sit-up to gain muscle strength and definition.
Don't forget there are several different variations of the sit-up. If you get bored with the regular form, try crunches, weighted sit-ups, twisted sit-ups, or any others you've heard about. As long as you're exercising your abs will be working towards definition and strength!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
MYNAMEISJEFF on December 17, 2015:
IDK, I feel like I do these and need to switch it up. Maybe ill try the digger thing..
Peter W. on December 15, 2015:
I use to have some flab and now I'm rock solid!
Tracey on December 14, 2015:
I can't wait to try this out! Pretty damn stoked about it :)