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The first thing you need to remember if you are trying to sculpt a six-pack is that ab exercises will only get you half of the way there. There is a reason people say “abs are made in the kitchen.” You can channel all the effort in the world into wringing iron braids from your stomach, but their definition will remain hidden so long as they’re sheathed in body fat. That means the first step in your journey to a glorious topography of abdominals should be dieting. Eat small and often, remembering to include a lot of protein and vegetables in your diet. Ditch sugars and white carbs.

Second is to understand the road to strength and size lies in greater intensity. Instead of sticking with the same routine of 50 run-of-the-mill sit-ups every day, find an exercise that burns you out in sets of ten or so to build that burgeoning washboard. Here are the best ab exercises:

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raise

Grab something you can hang from and bring your feet up. Begin by keeping your legs bent and feet low, then progress toward straighter legs and higher feet as you develop hamstring flexibility and strength.

Ab Rollouts

ab wheel

It’s a wheel on a stick. It can cost less than your lunch. There’s a lot of gimicky ab tools out there, but this thing isn’t one of them. Start with your knees on the ground, the wheel’s pegs in hand, and roll outward, taking care to keep your lower back stable. Don’t let your hips sag. Try moving from your knees to your feet to keep things difficult.

Dragon Flags


You may have seen Bruce Lee performing these. Pin your shoulders down, bracing your arms on something, and raise a straight torso and lower body into the air. Feel free to “cheat” your way into the raised position by tucking your legs in, then straightening and slowly lowering.

Now, please don’t neglect the other three sides of your core. For health as well as appearance’s sake.