Ab Workouts for Men

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Ab Workouts for Men

Your abdominal muscles consist of 3 major muscle groups and 4 distinct areas: the upper abs, lower abs, obliques, and transversus abs. Any complete ab workout works all of these abdominal muscle groups. The following basic ab workouts for men consist of four exercises to target these four distinct areas. The more advanced ab routines add a combination abdominal exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Just like with any other training routine, your body adapts to your current abdominal workout. Therefore, it is important to change your ab workouts every few weeks to continue developing your core strength and stability. The following article also provides a how to for developing routines that continually challenge and improve your core.

 


 

 

Pre-Designed Ab Workouts for Men

Easy Workouts

Ab Workouts for Men #1: Difficulty Level: Easy

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Crunches

Crunches 3-1

Upper Abs
Reverse Crunch

Reverse Crunch 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Crunches

Side Crunches 3-1

Obliques
Prone Plank

Prone Plank 3-1

Transverse Abs

 

Ab Workouts for Men #2: Difficulty Level: Easy

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Crunches Knees Up

Crunches Knees Up 3-1

Upper Abs
Modified Knee Raises

Modified Knee Raise 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Bends

Side Bends 3-1

Obliques
Prone Plank

Prone Plank 3-1

Transverse Abs

 

Easy-Medium Workouts

Ab Workouts for Men #3: Difficulty Level: Easy-Medium

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Crunches Legs Straight Out

Crunches Legs Straight Out 3-1

Upper Abs
Knee Raises

Knee Raises 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Crunches

Side Crunches 3-1

Obliques
Prone Plank

Prone Plank 3-1

Transverse Abs

 

Ab Workouts for Men #4: Difficulty Level: Easy-Medium

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Crunches Raised Hips

Crunches Raised Hips 3-1

Upper Abs
Bent Leg Hip Raise

Bent Leg Hip Raise 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Jackknife Single Leg

Side Jackknife Single Leg 3-1

Obliques
Stability Ball Bridge

Stability Ball Bridge 3-1

Transverse Abs

 

Medium Workouts

Ab Workouts for Men #5: Difficulty Level: Medium

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Toe Touches

Toe Touches 3-1

Upper Abs
Cycling Knee Raises

Cycling Knee Raises 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Jackknife Single Leg

Side Jackknife Single Leg 3-1

Obliques
Stomach Vacuum

Stomach Vacuum 3-1

Transverse Abs
Double Crunch

Double Crunch 3-1

Combination

 

Ab Workouts for Men #6: Difficulty Level: Medium

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Swiss Ball Crunch

Swiss Ball Crunch 3-1

Upper Abs
Hanging Knee Raise

Hanging Knee Raises 3-1

Lower Abs
Oblique Crunch with Exercise Ball

Oblique Crunch with Exercise Ball 3-1

Obliques
Stability Ball Bridge

Stability Ball Bridge 3-1

Transverse Abs
Swiss Ball Crunch with Twist

Swiss Ball Crunch with Twist 3-1

Combination

 

Medium-Hard Workouts

Ab Workouts for Men #7: Difficulty Level: Medium-Hard

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Toe Touches

Toe Touches 3-1

Upper Abs
Hip Raises

Hip Raises 3-1

Lower Abs
Side Jackknife Both Legs

Side Jackknife Both Legs 3-1

Obliques
Swiss Ball Rollout

Swiss Ball Rollout 3-1

Transverse Abs
Ab Crossovers

Ab Crossovers 3-1

Combination
Oblique Crunches

Oblique Crunches 3-1

Combination

 

Ab Workouts for Men #8: Difficulty Level: Medium-Hard

Perform 2 Sets Per Exercise (Between 10-20 Reps) Abdominal Region
Swiss Ball Crunch

Swiss Ball Crunch 3-1

Upper Abs
Hanging Knee Raise Single Leg

Hanging Knee Raises Single Leg Alternating 3-1

Lower Abs
Hanging Leg Raises with Twist

Hanging Leg Raises Bent Knees Twisting 3-1

Obliques
Swiss Ball Jackknife

Swiss Ball Jackknife 3-1

Transverse Abs
Ab Bicycles

Ab Bicycles 3-1

Combination
Swiss Ball Crunch with Twist

Swiss Ball Crunch with Twist 3-1

Combination

 

Designing Your Own Ab Workouts

 


 

 

Step 1:  Select Your Difficulty Level – All of the abdominal exercises listed below are ranked by difficulty from easy to hard. Determine your level of core stability and strength. Then, begin at the level most appropriate for you.

For example:

  • If you’re beginning to work your core for the first time or have not worked your core in awhile, start with easy exercises. If done properly, easy exercises will still challenge your core while building a necessary foundation. Do not skip to hard exercises. Beginning with advanced core exercises will lead you to use poor form to compensate for lack of core strength. Not only will this delay your core development but it will also increase your risk of injury.
  • If you are more advanced and have been working your core regularly, begin with medium or hard exercises to better challenge your core. If you are unsure of your baseline fitness level, try different difficulty levels to find the core workout that works best for you.

 

Step 2:  Choose your exercises – All of the exercises listed below are classified by abdominal region. Choose one or two exercises from each region to work the entire abdomen.  Do not neglect any one abdominal area.

For example:

  • If you are a beginner, you will be starting with easy exercises. A complete abdominal routine might include reverse crunches (upper abs), crunches: knees bent (lower abs), side crunches (obliques), and prone plank (transverse abs). As a beginner, try to avoid combination exercises at first, as these tend to be more difficult and potentially risk injury.
  • If you are more advanced, you will start with medium or hard difficulty exercises. A complete ab routine might include seated knee raises (upper abs), toe touches (lower abs), hanging leg raises with bent knees: twisting (obliques), exercise ball roll-outs (transverse abs), and bicycles (upper/lower/obliques).

Below are links to articles with videos of lower and upper ab exercises, oblique exercises, transverse abdominal exercises, and combination abdominal exercises. Find all of these exercises listed by abdominal region below.

 

Step 3:  If You Have Lower Back Problems, Check that Your Selected Exercises are NOT High Risk – All isolation exercises here are not high risk for back pain sufferers. However, certain advanced combination exercises are not suitable for men with back problems.

 

Step 4: Order Your Exercises – The order of your exercises in your ab workouts is not particularly important. However, you should change the order of your exercises each session to avoid complacency.

For example:

Monday Routine

Wednesday Routine

Friday Routine

1. Reverse Crunches 1. Prone Plank 1. Side Crunches
2. Crunches: Knees Bent 2. Reverse Crunches 2. Prone Plank
3. Side Crunches 3. Crunches: Knees Bent 3. Reverse Crunches
4. Prone Plank 4. Side Crunches 4. Crunches: Knees Bent

Step 5:  Determine the Number of Sets and Repetitions – The number of sets and repetitions you perform in your ab workouts is not as important as the quality of your technique. Better technique with fewer sets and reps is always superior to poor technique many sets and reps. A general guideline is to begin with 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions of each exercise. You can also add additional sets or repetitions to challenge your core before you change to higher difficulty exercises.

For example:

Monday Routine

Sets/Reps

Wednesday Routine

Sets/Reps

Friday Routine

Sets/Reps

1. Reverse Crunches

2 x 10

1. Prone Plank

2 x 12

1. Side Crunches

2 x 15

2. Crunches: Knees Bent

2 x 10

2. Reverse Crunches

2 x 12

2. Prone Plank

2 x 15

3. Side Crunches

2 x 10

3. Crunches: Knees Bent

2 x 12

3. Reverse Crunches

2 x 15

4. Prone Plank

2 x 10

4. Side Crunches

2 x 12

4. Crunches: Knees Bent

2 x 15

That is it! Five simple steps that you can use to design your own ab workout. Change the workout every 2-4 weeks and gradually progress from easy to medium to hard exercises. This stepwise progression will continue to challenge and develop your core.

How many times per week should I perform my ab workouts?

The answer to this question largely depends on your goal. Three ab workouts per week is more than sufficient to build a strong stable core and give your abdominal muscles time to rest and recover. Additionally, Abdominal exercises do not target/burn abdominal fat. Abdominal exercises target abdominal muscles, making them stronger and frequently larger. In order to burn belly fat, one must perform cardiovascular exercise (See Aerobic Exercise) and/or implement a calorie-controlled diet routine (See Nutrition). Simply put, do not spend countless hours performing abdominal exercises to flatten your stomach. A combination of cardiovascular and abdominal strengthening exercises are necessary to reduce belly fat and improve core strength and flexibility.

 

Complete Listing of Exercises

Lower Abdominals

Exercises Difficult Lower Back Risk
1. Reverse Crunch Easy Low
2. Modified Knee Raises Easy Low
3. Knee Raises Medium Low
4. Cycling Knee Raises Medium Moderate
5. Seated Knee Raise Medium Low
6. Hanging Knee Raises Medium Low
7. Hanging Knee Raises Single Leg Alt. Medium Moderate
8. Bent Leg Hip Raises Medium Low
9. Hip Raises Hard Moderate

Upper Abdominals

Exercises Difficult Lower Back Risk
1. Crunches Easy Low
2. Crunches Knees Up Easy Low
3. Crunches Legs Straight Out Medium Low
4. Crunches Legs Straight Up Medium Low
5. Crunches Raised Hips Medium Moderate
6. Toe Touches Medium Moderate
7. Swiss Ball Crunch Medium Moderate
8. Eggs Curls with Exercise Ball Medium Moderate

Transverse Abdominals

Exercises Difficult Lower Back Risk
1. Pelvic Tilt Easy Low
2. Prone Plank Easy Low
3. Stability Ball Bridge Medium Moderate
4. Stomach Vacuum Medium Low
5. Swiss Ball Rollout Hard Moderate
6. Swiss Ball Jackknife Hard Moderate

Oblique Exercises

Exercises Difficult Lower Back Risk
1. Ab Twist Easy Low
2. Side Crunches Easy Low
3. Side Bends Easy Low
4. Side Leg Raise Single Leg Easy Low
5. Side Jackknife Single Leg Medium Low
6. Leg Overs: Bent Knees Medium Low
7. Side Bridge Medium Low
8. Oblique Crunch with Exercise Ball Medium Moderate
9. Supine Twist Medium Moderate
10. Side Leg Raise Both Legs Medium Low
11. Side Jackknife Both Legs Hard Moderate
12. Leg Overs: Straight Legs Hard Moderate
13. Hanging Leg Raises with Twist Hard Moderate

Combination Exercises

Exercises Difficult Lower Back Risk
1. Ab Bicycles Medium Low
2. Ab Crossovers Medium Low
3. Crunch with Twist Medium Moderate
4. Double Crunch Medium Moderate
5. Double Crunch with Twist Medium Moderate
6. Oblique Crunches Medium Moderate
7. Oblique Crunch with Exercise Ball Medium Moderate
8. Seated Knee Raises with Twist Medium Moderate
9. Toe Touches with Twist Medium Moderate
10. Hanging Knee Raise with Twist Hard Moderate
11. Hanging Leg Raises with Twist Hard Moderate
12. Russian Twists Hard High
13. Sit Ups Hard High
14. Sit Ups with Twist Hard High
15. V Ups with Bent Knees Hard High

EMG’s Exercise Homepage: Exercise for Men

Updated: April 19, 2015