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The 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises; Miracle-Gro To Annihilate Your Rectus Abdominis & Cultivate A Six-Pack That Pops

The 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises; Miracle-Gro To Annihilate Your Rectus Abdominis & Cultivate A Six-Pack That Pops

The colloquial “six-pack” muscles are the visible product of a strong, chiseled-out, well-defined rectus abdominis — the symmetrical, 2-by-3 columns of tantalizing midsection meat spanning from pecs-to-pelvis (they can be asymmetrical as well, it’s 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 (or, better yet, salmon and goji) that helps the abs look like they’re always freshly pressed by a waffle iron and chiseled out with a fiery vengeance.

The surest way to add substance, striation, and density to the RA — and ultimately help the region pop — is with a heavy dose of effective, challenging upper ab exercises.

Our list of the 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises is abdominal Miracle-Gro. Use it as potent fuel to recalibrate your routine and annihilate your RA, leaving it prepped-and-primed to sprout budding little abs from the inside-out.


*As always, your abs won’t “pop” if there’s blubber plastering your core. Diet (use our guidelines here) and a foundational workout routine/ample cardio are absolutely KEY — effective ab exercises are only one small contributor to a lean, healthy body.


The 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises; Miracle-Gro To Annihilate Your Rectus Abdominis & Cultivate A Six-Pack That Pops

The 12 Best Upper Ab Exercises; Miracle-Gro To Annihilate Your Rectus Abdominis & Cultivate A Six-Pack That Pops


Upper Abs Exercise 1: Wide-Leg Cross Sit Ups

Upper Abs Exercise 1: Wide-Leg Cross Sit Ups

How to: 
  • Lie flat on the ground with your legs spread out wide.
  • Powerfully contract your core, raise your torso, and touch your right hand to your left foot.
  • 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.
  • Return to the bottom a 3rd time. Repeat the motion, touching your left hand to your right foot.
  • Continue to alternate left, middle, right.
  • Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball to increase the difficulty, if possible.



Upper Abs Exercise 2: Cable Crunches

Upper Abs Exercise 2: Cable Crunches

How to:
  • Attach a rope handle attachment to the top of a cable pulley station.
  • Grab the rope with both hands and lower your body down onto both knees. Stick your butt out, set your hips back, and form a 45° angle with your torso.
  • Tighten your abs, puff out your chest, and slowly — WITHOUT moving your hips — crunch your abs down towards the floor.
  • Once your chest is roughly parallel with the floor, SQUEEEEEZE the life out of your abs for 1.5 seconds.
  • Slowly extend your back, stretch out your abs and spine, and return to the starting position.
  • Increase the weight as your abs strengthen.



Upper Abs Exercise 3: Sprinters

sprinter crunches, sprinters, sprinter exercise, sprinter ab exercise, sprinter crunch ab exercise

How to:
  • Lie flat on the ground with your arms at your side.
  • Powerfully contract your core and explosively raise your torso, right arm, and left leg; your elbow and knee should reach the same height so that they’re directly across from one another.
  • Return to the ground and immediately repeat for the opposite side.
  • Increase the difficulty by holding a light dumbbell in either hand.



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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

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  • Myron Gains

    No such thing as upper and lower ab workouts. That’s ridiculous.

    • Nagrom.Sille

      Are you some sort of expert then cause if you are make up your own website and post the link.

      • Jeff elridge

        Shortsighted chump know-it-all….
        what’s the matter? Steroids causing you not to think straight?

        • jeff elridge

          I apologize, that was toward myron

    • Sure it’s all one long muscle, but that’s not true whatsoever. Try any “lower ab” exercise — do it correctly and you’ll find your lower ab muscles, pelvic muscles, lower obliques, etc. all working to a MUCH higher degree than the muscles in the upper half of your abs.

      Why do you think a “six-pack” looks the way it does? There are individual muscle silos within the larger group. They absolutely can and will grow differently depending on your training.

      Certain exercises (e.g. bicycle crunches, planks) activate the entire area. Other moves specialize in one specific chunk (e.g. cable crunches primarily hit the upper abs).

      It’s an easy framework to segment the core and work it evenly.

  • Kelly Marjamaa
  • having six pack abs is a dream for cara alami mengobati keputihan yang gatal

  • Frankie

    Funny one of the exercises has a “never do this exercise” link right above it — EXACT SAME EXERCISE….

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