“Your abs are not made in the gym but in the kitchen.” You must have heard this saying at some point of time in life. Well, I agree partly with this statement because if you don’t do exercise then it is very difficult to give shape to your abdominal muscles. Yes, it is true to have good food habits with more focus on the kind of nutrients that you consume but you cannot leave behind exercises in your quest to achieve well-sculpted abs.
Your abdominal muscles comprise of the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, external oblique and internal oblique. The importance of maintaining strength in all these four muscles is further enhanced by the fact that strong abdominal core can help you to improve posture and strength.
In the world of fitness, while diet pays off 80% of the results you want, this is followed by exercises with 20%. Here, I’m primarily concerned about this 20%, no matter what you do you cannot take this off your regime. So come on people, let’s concentrate on the ab workout tips that can help men to get sculpted abs.
#1 Hanging Leg Raise
The hanging leg raise is a good exercise for building lower abs. When this exercise is executed properly it helps in developing the rectus abdominis and the obliques. It helps to get your abs in shape without straining your lower back and spine.
Step 1: Hang from a pull-up bar by extending both your arms overhead. Use a wide grip with your palms facing away from the body.
Step 2: Straighten your legs as you hang with the pelvis slightly rolled backwards.
Step 3: Now raise your legs up by tensing up your midsection. Make a hanging ‘L’. Try and raise your legs as high as possible.
Step 4: Pause for 1-2 seconds and then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Important Tips: Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps each. Do not swing your legs and your body while performing this exercise. To make the exercise easier you can bend your knees. In a more advanced form, you can add weights between the feet.
Next Up: Kettlebell Swing
#2 Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing is an amazing exercise which targets your core. The swing motion helps your abs to contract immediately and provides the much-needed strength. Apart from the abdominal muscles it also helps in building biceps, calves and your deltoid muscles.
Step 1: Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart with the kettlebell resting on the floor.
Step 2: Bend your knees slightly and press your butt back to stabilise your body.
Step 3: Now grasp (palms facing downwards) the kettlebell handle with both hands and swing it as if trying to hit your butt with it.
Step 4: Thrust your hips forward, straighten knees and squeeze glutes to swing the kettlebell through legs up to chest height. Next swing the weight down to complete one rep.
Important Tips: Do 3 sets of 15-18 reps each. Keep your arms and wrists straight throughout. Keep your weight on the heels and prevent your spine from rounding.
Next Up: Weighted Sit Ups
#3 Weighted Sit Ups
The weighted sit up is a progressive form of the traditional sit up. This exercise strengthens the entire core region including the lower abdominals, hip flexors, and lower back.
Step 1: Lie on your back and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor.
Step 2: Now hold a dumbbell against your chest by hugging it with your arms.
Step 3: Perform a sit up by raising your upper torso and contracting your core. Try to touch the back of your forearms to your thighs.
Step 4: After a brief pause for a second slowly lower yourself back to the starting. This completes one rep.
Important Tips: Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps each. Start with a weight which you are comfortable with. If you have a problem in anchoring your feet then slide your legs under the handle of two very heavy dumbbells.
Next Up: Rolling Planks
#4 Rolling Planks
It is important to master the basic plank exercise before moving to rolling plank which is a more complex variation. In addition to working up the core muscles, the rolling plank also builds up your shoulder and back strength.
Step 1: Start in high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers pointing forward.
Step 2: Now place the top of your feet on the middle of the foam roller. Keep your body in a straight diagonal line.
Step 3: Next slide your body up with the help of the foam roller and tighten your core.
Step 4: Return back to the neutral or starting position and repeat the exercise.
Important Tip: Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps each. Remember not to arch your back while performing the exercise. Always keep the elbow in line with the shoulders.
Next Up: Dumbbell Woodchop
#5 Dumbbell Woodchop
The dumbbell woodchop is an excellent dumbbell exercise that helps you work on your obliques and upper abs. It also helps in body coordination and improves the flexibility of the spine.
Step 1: Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell with both hands on one side in a squat position. This is the starting position.
Step 2: Keeping your arms straight move the dumbbell from one side to the highest point away from your body over your opposite shoulder. You should twist your body as if chopping wood.
Step 3: Slowly twist your body and bend your knees to return back to the starting position. Do the reps and then switch sides.
Important Tips: Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps on each side. If you are a beginner then do not start with a weight that is too heavy. Keep your abdominal muscles and back muscles tight throughout the exercise to add stability.