SIX-PACKS ON DECK!
If you’ve ever wanted a chiseled six-pack or a flat, defined set of abs, you HAVE to be focusing on the rectus abdominis.
But WTF is a rectus abdominis and why should I care?
Let us educate you. The colloquial “six-pack” muscles are the visible product of a strong, chiseled-out, well-defined rectus abdominis. It’s the muscle chain that encompasses the upper abs and forms the symmetrical, 2×3 columns of ab blocks that span from pecs-to-pelvis (and sometimes 2×4 if you’re rocking an eight-pack).
They can also be staggered and asymmetrical as well, that’s just genetics.
While the obliques, serratus (the diagonal finger-like muscles below the pecs), lower abs, and transverse abdominis are each requisite elements of an elite core, the rectus abdominis (RA) is arguably the trump muscle that unlocks six-pack potential.
It’s the meat-and-potatoes that makes the abs look like they’re freshly pressed by a waffle iron and chiseled out with a fiery vengeance. Build up the RA and it’ll make your abs pop in gorgeous 4K high-definition.
The surest way to add substance, striation, and density to the rectus abdominis is with a heavy dose of effective, challenging upper ab exercises.
Our list of the 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises works as abdominal Miracle-Gro. Use each of the exercises here as potent fuel to recalibrate your routine and annihilate your rectus abdominis, and ultimately leave your core prepped-and-primed to sprout budding little abs from the inside-out.
MAJOR KEY: As always, your abs won’t make an appearance if there’s blubber plastering your core.
Clean eating (use our guidelines here), a foundational workout routine, and ample cardio are absolutely KEY. Effective ab exercises are only one small contributor to a lean, healthy body and a beautiful set of abs.
The 12 Best Rectus Abdominis & Upper Abs Exercises
*Click each exercise name for a pop-out video demo.
Protocol: 12 reps left/right/center
Target Muscle(s): Upper Abs (Rectus Abdominis), Obliques
- (1) Lie flat on the ground with your legs spread out wide.
- (2) Powerfully contract your core, raise your torso, and touch your right hand to your left foot.
- (3) Return to the bottom. Extend your arms long over your head and stretch out your core; immediately crunch up and touch the ground in between your feet.
- (4) Return to the bottom a 3rd time. Repeat the motion, touching your left hand to your right foot.
- (5) Continue to alternate left, middle, right.
Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball to increase the difficulty.