It’s that time of the year again, the weather is getting warmer and you're starting to think about that summer shred.
It’s almost time to bust out that bikini or swim trunks and head to the beach and nothing tops off the killer beach body quite like a shredded up midsection and six-pack abs.
Now, I am not going to tell you that these five exercises will be all you need to shred up but if you use these in conjunction with a sound, clean diet, solid supplementation and consistency in training, you can build the best abs and midsection you’ve ever had.
Personally, I do these ab variations within my warm up as a way to ensure they won’t be neglected. It is important to remember that the abs can be trained directly and in high-volume multiple times, if not every day you are in the gym.
1) Kneeling Suspension Fallout
Set up a set of suspension straps low to the ground and grab a pad or yoga mat and place it on the ground at the bottom of the straps.
Get into a tall kneeling position with knees resting on the pad, and grab the handles of the suspension straps. They should be set up so your hands are just in front of your hips.
With the handles pressed together, start to reach the straps out in front of you, using the knees as a pivot. Your feet should come up as you let your whole body “fall” forward as you reach out. Make sure to suck in your stomach and brace the abs tight in an attempt to keep a flat back the entire time.
As you are reaching out, you should begin to feel the tension build up in the abs, continue until your arms are reaching straight above your head. Reverse this motion and return to the starting position, again using the knees as a pivot and returning the feet to the ground.
This move will shred up the traditional six-pack abs and help build stability in the entire core and shoulder joint. However, be careful of this exercise if you have any shoulder injuries that limit your ability to go overhead.
Sets & Reps: 2-3 Sets of 10-15 reps a few times a week is a great way to build bricks for six-pack abs.
2) Paloff Press
Loop a band on a squat rack or another solid object or set up a cable machine with a single handle, whichever version you choose, set the height at chest level.
Hold the end of the band or cable handle in your hands and step out, away from the anchor so you are standing perpendicular to the band/cable. Set your feet in a wide base, wider than shoulder width and keep a slight bend in your knees.
Starting with the hands at chest, slowly press the band/cable out away from your chest until your arms are locked out. Pause for two to five seconds and slowly return the hands to the chest, the whole time trying to prevent any rotation of the torso.
This move is incredibly challenging and will hit the oblique’s and the deep abdominal muscles hard.
Sets & Reps: 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps on each side with a 2-5 second pause is perfect.
3) Toes to Bar/Knees to Chest
This exercise is quite possibly the most challenging abs exercise on the list. Master it to build incredible core strength, stability, and ripped up abs. Jump up and grab a bar just as you were going to perform a pull-up.
Hanging from the bar, bring your legs up in front of you and touch your toes to the bar, almost as you were folding your body in half at the hips. Once your toes touch, slowly reverse the motion and return to the starting position. The slower you go, the harder it will be, and the straighter your legs are the tougher it will be.
If you can’t master the strict form, bend your knees slightly and do the same thing, the closer your feet are to your body, the easier it will be.
If this is still too difficult, we can sub it out for a slight variation on the traditional, hanging knee raise. Set up just the same as above, but this time I want you to slowly bring your knees to your chest and lower them under control.
Imagine this version of the movement as curling your body up into a ball while hanging from the ball. Use this regression until you build up enough strength to do toes to bar.
Sets & Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 6-10 reps executed with control is the perfect solution to hit the six-pack abs hard. If you can only do a few, do as many as possible until you build up to the 6-10 range.
4) Tall Kneeling Rotational Woodchop (Band or Cable)
Woodchops are one of the best ways to build killer obliques and get the coveted v-taper. For this move, you can use a band or a cable machine with a single handle. There are many variations of the woodchop so feel free to rotate through the different variations.
Set up the band or cable at a height slightly above your head when you are in a tall kneeling position, which is on your knees with your hips locked out and chest up tall.
Set up perpendicular to the band or cable and grab the end, you should be set up so when you grab the handle/end your arms are completely straight and on an upward angle above your head. During the whole movement do your best to stay in this tall kneeling position and prevent any rotation of the hips. Start the movement by rotating the torso down towards your opposite pocket.
If you are starting out so the handle is on your right side above your head, the handle should travel at a downward angle towards your left hip. Make sure the rotation is coming from your core and not your arms, think of your arms and hands as hooks, allowing your torso and obliques to do all the work.
Once you rotate through and the handle reaches your hip, reverse the motion but move very slowly, controlling the resistance all the way back. Repeat and switch sides.
To vary the movement, perform it standing and start low with the handle and travel up, either variation works well for the oblique’s because there are actually two layers of the oblique muscles, the inner and outer, and the layout of their fibers is essentially opposite of each other. The name of the game here is to perform the woodchops slowly and controlled.
Sets & Reps: 3-4 sets of 8-10 “chops,” per side is perfect to smash your oblique’s and build the v-taper.
5) Suitcase Carry
Suitcase carries are the sneakiest of all the core moves we have covered yet– they're simple but incredibly difficult when done correctly. All you need is a dumbbell or kettlebell and a little bit of space.
Pick up the weight and hold it at your side, steady yourself and prevent any leaning or rotating due to the weight being loaded on one side only. Slowly start to walk forward, with small controlled steps. As you walk your goal is to control the weight and prevent any movement at all besides the small steps.
Walk for about ten yards or so, then reverse the motion by walking backward slowly until you return to the starting position, then switch sides. The slower and more focused each step is, the more you will get out of the movement.
If you can’t tell where exactly your body is in space, and if you are leaning, have a training partner watch you and cue you when you start to lean. This move will light up everything from your traps down to your hips hitting everything in between.
Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, each side of 10 yard carries is all you need.
Remember, these exercises alone won’t get you the abs you want, but if you are serious about your diet and supplementation, all elements of fitness will come together so that you can form the physique you’ve always dreamed of!
Looking for an extra punch of support to help you maximize your summer shred journey? C4 Ripped is a pre-workout that will give you the energy to tackle your training with fat loss ingredients to help edge you closer to your goals.
Looking for a non-stim weight loss supplement? Xtend Ripped combines the performance and recovery power of BCAAs with additional ingredients for weight loss.