10 of the Best Core Exercises for Six-Pack Abs
Beyond the aesthetics of the six-pack, strong abdominal muscles give you endurance, strength, and efficiency – and most importantly, protect you against injury.
We’ve compiled some of the best core exercises for you. Master these moves, and reap the benefits of more explosive, efficient movements, healthier joints, and less back pain.
Here’s what you need to know.
You’ve got four main core muscle groups:
- Rectus Abdominus — these are your “vanity abs” – located closest to the surface of the skin, these are known as the six-pack and aid in trunk flexion
- External Obliques — Located on the sides of the waist, used in trunk flexion, and side rotation
- Internal Obliques — Located a few layers deeper underneath the external obliques, these muscles run in the opposite direction, helping with trunk flexion, and contralateral rotation
- Transverse Abdominis (TVA) – Located deeper still, these muscle fibers wrap completely around the spine, helping to stabilize and protect the back muscles, vertebrae, and discs.
Why the TVA Matters
The rectus abdominis muscles – your six-pack abs – develop outward. The transverse abdominis (TVA), however, develops inward.
So you might not see the aesthetic results of TVA strength, but it’s essential to tighten your muscular “belt” or “girdle,” protecting you against injury.
A strong TVA transfers the force and stress of body movements through your muscles, rather than through your vertebrae and joints. Thus, TVA strength improves literally every other movement, making your jumping, squatting, and lifting more efficient and explosive.
“The TVA is like the Spanx of the abdominal muscles!”
10 of Our Favorite Ab Exercises
(sorted by muscle groups)
Rectus Abdominus (six-pack abs)
1. Hanging knee raises
This is the perfect excuse to pick up that pull-up bar you’ve been wanting for years!
FYI: ↑↑ Click on the name of each exercise to see an instructional video
The TRX straps are great, but obviously not necessary. If you’re trying to squeeze this routine in at home (or the office), simply drop down and knock them out sans equipment – like your P.E. teacher used to make you do all those years back!
External / Internal Obliques
5. Russian medicine ball twist
No medicine ball or weights? No problem! Grab a dumbbell, a heavy book, or just use your own body weight.
Transverse Abdominis (TVA)
*Do not attempt if you have any lower back issues, or experience any low back pain as you perform the exercise.
10. TRX / Ball pikes
The Role Nutrition Plays in Tightening the Core
Everyone always wants to know the crazy ab exercises you need to get a six-pack – but the truth is that 98 percent of the work is done in the kitchen. If you nail that part – you’re golden.
Here at Factor 75, we are big fans of Joel Runyon’s philosophy on the importance nutrition plays in fitness. Check out this interview we did with him, where he shares his tips on getting six-pack abs.
How to Get Started
- Start Eating Clean! Need some help with that? We got you covered.
- Download a free pdf list of 10 of the Best Core Exercises for Six-Pack Abs, complete with detailed instructions on how to perform each exercise.
- Block out 20-25 minutes, three days a week. Perform two exercises from each muscle group every workout day. That’s it!
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