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The Stacked 12: 12 Ab Exercises You NEED To Do To Build A Six-Pack In 2016 [Exercise Lists]

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Make 2016 the year of the six-pack. YOUR six-pack.

Aim high. Whether you’re starting with a blubbery midsection, or you’re intent on upgrading your four-pack to six-pack status, make a conscious decision to put your core at the forefront of your physical training.

Abs take time, meticulous effort, and an insane amount of discipline to sprout, cultivate, and polish. And that starts by uprooting and rewiring your approach to core training.

Here’s the reality: Doing 1000s of crunches and sit-ups WON’T get you a six-pack. And neither will 7-Minute Abs or 2,928 ab workouts per week. You’re wasting your time.

The most effective ab exercises aren’t traditional crunches, sit-ups, or flutter kicks. In fact, they technically aren’t “ab exercises” at all — they’re BIG, full-body, compound movements that compress the abdominals like an accordion, scorch body fat, and leverage the core to support other muscle groups.

Sure, isolation ab exercises can produce gorgeous results. But think of those as abdominal accessories; as exercises that help accentuate each individual group of ab muscles (e.g. the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis) and chisel out aesthetic cuts.

They’re the cherry on top of a banana split, or the hollandaise dripping down a perfectly cooked eggs benedict (obviously I’m hungry right now). They help finish the package, they don’t make it.

To help rewire your core training we’ve blown out The Stacked 12 — a list of 12 essential “ab exercises” you HAVE to be doing if you’re looking to carve out a killer six-pack in 2016. Prioritize each exercise first, bake ’em into your weekly training schedule, and go to town.

Welcome to the year of next-gen abdominal training.

*Per usual with any discussion of core excellence, that starts with your diet. Use our clean eating guide to get your diet on point.


The Stacked 12: The Top 12 Ab Exercises To Build A Six-Pack In 2016


Think of each exercise as an abdominal land mine. Some might fall on leg day (e.g. Goblet Squats), others pair best with upper body, while others predominantly work the entire core. And that’s the point.

By incorporating each into you weekly workout routine, you’ll embed your abs into the core of your workouts (no pun intended) and hammer them relentlessly in a variety of different ways; most of which go FAR beyond small, isolated contractions. That ultimately leads to explosive new growth.

Get to it.

*Click each exercise name for a video demo.


Six-Pack Ab Exercise 1: Goblet Squats


How To:

Target Muscle(s): Legs, Core, Arms

Unlike traditional barbell squats, Goblet Squats shift the weight to the front half of your body — that puts MAJOR emphasis on the abs and requires significant core stability. They’re primarily a leg exercise, but they’re an extremely potent way to build a strong core and a flat, ripped stomach.

Plus they absolutely gobble up fat. Which, you know, is kind of important for building a lean midsection.

  • (1) Stand tall and hold a heavy dumbbell over you chest. The top should sit at your collabone and stay there throughout.
  • (2) Squeeze your abs, keep your lower back flat, and slowly squat down until your legs are below parallel.
  • (3) Hold 1 second and explode back up to top.

Make sure your abs stay tight throughout so that your body stays upright.

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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Wow Bryan, this is great and so different from the boring crunches! I will start these from tomorrow.

    Out of the 12 exercises, I can do 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 12. What should be the reps and sets for each exercise for me? I am female, lithe, muscular, 5′ 7″, 54 year old, mesomorph (with around 20% endomorph).

    Thanks in advance.

    • Shoot for this —

      1: 3 sets x 12 reps
      2: 3 sets x 12 reps
      3: 3 sets x 15 reps/side
      4: 3 sets x 60-120 seconds
      9: 3 sets x 20-25 reps
      12: 3 sets x 60 reps

  • Thanks so much, Bryan.