Flat Abs for Men: Go-to Exercises
Want 6-pack abs? Here's how to get them.
Flat Abs Exercise: Stability Ball Crunch
Crunch exercises can be more effective when done on a big inflatable ball called an exercise ball. The ACE-commissioned study of ab exercises showed that crunches done with the aid of an exercise ball generated 39% more activity in the rectus abdominis, and 47% more activity in the obliques than a traditional crunch done on a floor mat.
Sit on an inflated exercise ball, feet flat on the floor. Roll down on the ball, so that the middle of your back rests at the top of the ball. Hold your thighs level with the floor, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing outward, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Contract your abdominal muscles, curling your chest toward your pelvis. Keep your lower back in contact with the ball and your feet firmly set on the floor. When you’ve taken the crunch as far as you can, hold it a moment, then slowly relax, returning to the starting position.
Get it right:
- Use a properly sized ball for your height. A ball 26 inches in diameter is recommended for men 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall.
- A more fully inflated, harder ball makes for a more difficult workout. A properly inflated ball should give slightly under your weight.
Flat Abs Exercise: The Plank
There are many variations of this exercise, which as the name suggests, involves a rigid, straight posture. A basic plank exercise is similar to a push-up. Robinson says it’s an important ab exercise to start with because it helps people become aware of their core muscles. Holding your body rigid, you can feel how those muscles keep you from collapsing, he says.
Lay on your stomach with your arms bent, keeping your forearms flat on the floor, palms down. Your elbows should be in line with your shoulders and close to your sides. Bend your feet forward so your toes grip the floor. Stiffen your torso and legs. Slowly raise up your whole body, keeping your legs and torso in a straight line, without letting any part sag or arch up. Hold the position and then lower yourself back down.
Get it right:
- If you feel any lower back pain while doing this exercise, stop right away.
Flat Abs Exercise: Pilates
Pilates isn’t a single exercise. It’s a fitness system that involves many different exercises and routines that can be done on exercise mats or with a special machine. Many people practice Pilates with a certified instructor at a health club or private studio, but instructional books and videos are also available for doing it at home.