Top 6 Athletic Abdominal Training Exercises for Six Pack Abs
have amazing abdominals. Have you ever looked at the Olympic 100m
final and seeing the guys warming up for their race??? You'll often
see them with their T-shirts off before they put on their competition
vest. You'll notice how well developed their abs are and how they
have very low levels of body fat.
I come from a track and field background myself and although I
no longer compete I still train very athletically. Most of my training
consists of performing BIG free weight (barbell and dumbbell) based
exercises, bodyweight exercises (chin ups, pull ups, push ups, dips),
various jump exercises using both double and single leg actions,
overhead presses, jerks and squats, as well as various bodyweight
based exercises and some more specific abdominal-core stabilization
and anti-rotational work.
Today I would like to share with you what I consider to be six
of the best athletic movements you can perform for developing better
and leaner abs. These 6 athletic movements should supplement your
strength training work, which should be made up of the BIG lifts,
such as squats, deadlifts, pressing and pulling movements, as well
as unilateral (single arm and single leg) work.
is not just an excellent metabolic tool to use for fat loss, but
it's also excellent for developing the abdominal musculature. Your
entire abdominal cavity will be engaged when you are sprinting at
high speeds. There's also an anti-rotational element involved in
sprinting, which is another key aspect in abdominal training.
Sprinting for me personally is my number one item for fat loss
and abdominal development. However, if you have any sort of orthopedic
concerns, are severely overweight or are poorly conditioned at present
I would recommend you leave out the sprinting until you are in a
better position to take advantage of it.
Sprints can be performed on a flat, declined or inclined surface.
You could also use a resisted pulley device, but please stay away
from, and don't waste your money on, those speed parachutes. They
are fine for a wind free day, but if the wind picks ups they are
a nightmare. There's no need to waste your money on these devices.
2: Jump Exercises
Jump exercises such as squat jumps, burpees, alternating split
squat jumps and tuck jumps are again excellent metabolic tools to
use for fat loss, as well as abdominal development. Most people
perform way too much floor based abdominal exercises. I like to
incorporate more ground-based work and then, with those that are
capable, I like to include some jump exercises via circuit training
or mini-jump circuit routines to really tax the abdominals, legs
3: Overhead Exercises
Any exercise where you have to hold your arms or an object overhead
will naturally require you to tighten up through the midsection.
Stand up for a second and be aware of how your midsection feels.
Now as you are standing, reach both arms up overhead and feel the
difference. Your midsection has become much more engaged by simply
extending the arms above the head.
Now I want you to stand up and perform a bodyweight squat with
your hands by your side and take note of how you feel through your
midsection. OKAY, now stop and extend your hands up over your hand
so that they form a 'Y' position and now perform a 'Y-Squat'. Ahh,
your midsection is definitely more engaged now, YES? Good!
Start with bodyweight Y-Squats as your overhead exercise of choice
before moving onto more difficult overhead exercises, such as barbell
overhead squats, barbell overhead lunges and barbell overhead step
4: Bodyweight Exercises
have developed the notion that bodyweight training is easy and they
MUST do weights in order to tax themselves. I beg to differ. Just
because you can do 10 half arsed push-ups does NOT mean you can
master your Bodyweight!
Bodyweight exercises such as inverted rows, bodyweight squats,
single leg squats, jumps, burpees, and plank variations all have
progressions and they can all create a VERY effective workout that
EVERYONE can benefit from. Supporting your body in all these positions
not only taxes the abdominals but it is functional as well! You
should always have the goal of been able to perform these exercises
and it's never too late to learn how to master your own bodyweight.
Not only that but once you master these bodyweight exercises you
can always start adding additional load in order to further challenge
yourself and keep progressing.
The best bodyweight exercises are of course push ups, chin ups,
pull ups, dips, squats, lunges, step ups, and various other full
body movements, some of which we will look at below.
5: Stabilization Exercises
Stabilization exercises are fun and challenging to perform.
There are numerous stabilization exercises you can perform and most
are performed in either a prone (face down) or side position.
Let's have a look at a few basic stabilization exercises.
Below you will see the basic plank being performed. From left to
right we have increased difficulty, starting with a basic kneeling
position plank, then a handstand position plank and finally an elbow
stand position plank. All 3 positions are held for a certain time
period and the objective is to keep the body tight and rigid like
a PLANK of wood. The hips should not sag, nor should the butt end
up piked in the air. Simply assume the starting position as pictured,
brace your abs and hold the position for the specified time period.
Kneeling Plank Handstand
Now, we can also progress some of this exercises from maintaining
a static hold and bring in some limb movement as we try to maintain
a stable position of the trunk or at least minimize movement as
we do so. For example, we could assume a handstand plank position
and then perform what is called a handstand crossover climb. Basically
you will move from four points of contact to two contact points
by bringing one hand back to meet the instep of the opposite foot
that's lifted off the ground and moving forward to meet the hand.
Now return back to the handstand start position (4 contact points)
and repeat the action with the opposite hand and foot. This exercise
does require a good level of coordination.
Handstand Crossover Climbs
Performing side planks is a great way to address the obliques and
further challenge yourself due to the increased difficulty that's
created from being in a side position, which means there is only
really two points of contact being made with the ground or surface
Have a look at the progressions below. Again, they progress in
difficulty from left to right. First off we have a knelling side
plank, then we progress to a full side plank where the legs are
fully extended and the knees are off the ground.
Next in the progression is a side plank where we bring in some
limb movement in the form of hip flexion. This is an extremely difficult
variation to perform.
Kneeling Side Plank
Side Plank Side
Plank + Hip Flexion
Finally we have a variation that I personally love. I call this
one a single leg supported side plank and it's performed with the
forearm-elbow resting on an elevated surface such as a box, step
or bench that's approximately 16-18 inches high. You will really
feel your obliques being taxed in this one as well as your inner
thigh muscles. Perform this one with CAUTION!
Single Leg Supported Side Plank
6: Anti-Rotational Exercises
Anti-Rotational Exercises are another staple in my own abdominal
and core training regime. I like to use simple exercises such as
isometric band or cable pulley holds and dumbbell plank and rows
as pictured below.
To perform the dumbbell plank and row, grab a set of dumbbells
(light to start) and assume the handstand plank position with your
hands grasping the dumbbells. You will need to have your feet spread
a little further apart for this exercise than you would a regular
plank, as you will be rowing one dumbbell up by your side and therefore
moving onto 3 points of contact.
As you do this you will feel your hips wanting to ROTATE, but you
MUST resist this rotation and try to maintain body alignment. Over
time you can progress to heavier dumbbells as well as bringing your
feet in closer to one another, but never bring them right in close
to each other.
The row action is performed on each side, 1 rep right arm, 1 rep
left arm. When returning the dumbbells to the ground, do not allow
the weight to pull you down and the weight to smash into the ground.
Make sure you lower the weight and do so under a bit of control.
The movement doesn't need to be slow, just controlled by YOU!
Dumbbell Plank and Row
AGAIN, this is just a short list of some non-traditional abdominal
exercises I personally like to use myself and with clients. Keep
in mind that the main things you need to do for getting those abs
to show is to eat clean and train metabolically for fat loss. All
the exercises pictured here should be supplementary and not the
focal point of your six-pack development program.
Take what you have learned here and combine it with the information
provided in my article called 6
Tips For Developing Athletic Six Pack Abs & Lean Abdominals
and you're GUARANTEED to carve out BETTER and LEANER Abdominals
faster than you thought possible.