If you spent time on the treadmill and dieted down and your abs haven’t still popped, there is only one possible explanation: you haven’t been training your abs the right way. For most people, training their abs consists of the usual high-rep crunches and sit-ups. Contrary to this popular belief, training ab with high reps isn’t the best way to make your abs pop and stronger. To really make your abs pop, you will need to overhaul your whole ab training routine by performing weighted ab exercises and by manipulating exercises, reps, sets and exercise angles to work on each area of the ab region. The weighted ab exercises build the muscle that makes up the squares of your six-pack so they pop and when performed at different angles, allow you to build deeply-etched abs. Below we have listed six of the best-weighted ab exercises and how to perform them. Each exercise targets a specific area of your abs: upper abs, lower abs, or obliques. We also combine these exercises into two sets of routines which you could incorporate into your overall workout program on those days you perform your ab workouts.
- Standing Cable Crunch
Attach a rope handle to a high-pulley cable. Stand up facing away from the weight stack, your feet spaced shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Split the rope handles and hold one over each collarbone. Curl your torso down to bring your elbows toward your knees. Hold this position for a count, then slowly return to the start.
- Medicine-Ball Crunch/Throw
Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet and lower back flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball overhead with your arms extended. Contract your abs to curl up explosively, bringing your shoulders and upper back as high off the floor as you can, then throw the medicine ball to a training partner standing near your feet as you reach the top position. Stay up until your partner throws the ball back to you. Resist the ball’s momentum with your abs as you slowly return to the start.
- Medicine-Ball Hip Thrust
Lie face up on the floor with your hands extended at your sides, then lift your feet so your legs are roughly parallel to the floor. Hold a medicine ball between your feet as shown. Use your abs to raise your hips and glutes straight up off the floor to push your feet toward the ceiling. Hold this position for a count before lowering your glutes back to the floor. This exercise can also be performed using a dumbbell by placing the top inner plate against your shoes and squeezing the handle with your feet.
- Hanging Knee Raises
Hang from a pull-up station using a wide grip and allowing your legs to hang straight down toward the floor, eyes facing forward. Clamp a medicine ball or the post of a dumbbell between your feet and hang freely with your legs fully extended. Contract your abdominals and hip flexors to raise your knees as high as possible. Bend your knees on the way up and continue until your thighs come to at least parallel to the floor. Hold the contraction for a two-count, then slowly lower your legs back to the start while keeping your core tight and repeat.
- Decline Russian Twist
Sit on a decline bench and position your body in a half sit-up (your lower back shouldn’t touch the bench). Using both hands, hold a dumbbell straight above you. With your arms locked in that position, rotate your torso to the right until your right arm is about parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment, then return to the start. Repeat on your left side. Alternating from right to left is one complete rep.
- Standing Cable Oblique Crunch
Stand up with your right side facing a high-pulley cable with a D-handle attached to it. Grasp the handle with your right hand using an underhand grip, keeping your elbow tucked tightly at your side. Contract your obliques to pull your torso down to the right side until your elbow touches the top of your hip. Pause for a count in this position before slowly returning to the start. Complete all reps for one side, then repeat on the other side.