Here’s the truth: Endless crunches and situps are not the secret to six-pack abs.
In fact, repetitive or excessive spinal flexion—that is, bending your back so your chest goes toward your knees, exactly as you do during a crunch—is “just about the worst thing you can do for your back,” says David Larson, C.S.C.S., a strength coach at Pulse Fitness in Scottsdale, Arizona. Oh, and another pro tip: No matter what exercises you do, a proper diet is essential for carving out that six-pack—just ask any fitness model or strength coach.
Once your diet is on point, make sure you do these six key exercises to get you started on making your abs the best they’ve ever been.
Why it works your abs: People typically think of the pullup as an exercise for your biceps and back, and it is. But when done correctly—no flailing legs, no kipping, no hip hinges—pullups also require a formidable amount of core strength. As you pull yourself up to the bar, your abs need to work hard to keep your body still.
How to do it: Grasp a pullup bar with a grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, bend your legs behind you, cross your feet, squeeze your butt, and brace your abs (this ensures your core gets worked). This is the start position. Pull yourself up until your collarbone reaches the bar, driving your elbows down toward your hips. Return to the start position. If unable to pull yourself up, loop an exercise band over the bar and around your knees, and use that force to help you
Reps: To failure
Rest: 2 min. between sets