You know the old saying: good ab workouts for men are hard to find. In fact, a quick search on Google will show that there are nearly as many “best ab workouts” as Instagram models, making the quality ones (ab workouts, not social media influencers) genuinely difficult to discern. The stakes of picking an ineffective ab workout at home are far beyond a waste of time. In fact, some exercises, done improperly, can trigger a back injury or cause serious pain. So, if you’re looking for a good and effective ab workout without a dingy box or a studio that smells like feet, look no further. This no-nonsense series of ab exercises are wide-ranging, effective, and help you get stronger overall and build you a core of steel by month’s end.
First, let’s start with some basic anatomy: The midsection is actually composed of multiple muscles. The rectus abdominis is probably the one you know best. Running down your centerline from your sternum to pubic bone, it’s the muscle people are typically talking about when they’re looking for a six- or eight-pack. Then there are the obliques, which are technically two sets of muscles. They run diagonally under the rectus abdominis, beginning at your lower ribs and ending at your hip bones. The transverse abdominis is even deeper still, encircling itself around the sides of your torso and stabilizing your core.
Of course, no quality ab program neglects the lower back muscles, which play an integral role in defining your core — both aesthetically (they eliminate some of that side-fat overhang situation) and functionally (a strong lower back helps you rotate your core and stand more erect and will help you with all that toddler-picking-up you probably do). If your at-home ab workout of choice doesn’t spend some time on them, our advice is to just Photoshop your abs on, as it will be much easier and look a hell of a lot better.
But our workout hits it all: the abs, the obliques, the lower back. These 10 moves will sculpt your midsection into one mean abdominal machine without requiring a gym membership or a bathroom-mirror selfie. Of course, no core workout will ever lead to a flat belly if it’s not accompanied by eating smart and keeping up the cardio — if you’re carrying extra pounds, you’re going to have a gut, no matter how many planks you do. But follow us and we’ll get you closer — and in less time than you might think.
The 15-Minute Ab Workout for Men
Once you can get through the below workout comfortably, add reps to your set, or sets to your circuit, to keep challenging yourself.
Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat in front of you. Place a medicine ball between your feet. Lean back and lift your feet off the floor, straightening your legs until your weight is balanced in a V position. From here, either hold this position for 30 seconds, or for a more advanced challenge, bend and straighten your legs while maintaining the V-hold. Relax, then repeat.
Lie on your back, legs extended, heels about 6 inches off the ground. Place your hands by your sides or under the small of your back for support. Begin to scissor your legs up and down, as if you are doing the backstroke in the pool. Flutter kick for 20 seconds, rest 10, then do 20 seconds more.
Get into an extended pushup position, then lower yourself to your elbows. Keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe, hold the position for 60 seconds. For variations on the theme, try a side plank (prop yourself up on one elbow, then raise your hips off the ground to create a straight line from your feet to your shoulders).
Lie on your back on the floor, legs straight up in the air, feet together. Place your hands by your sides or under the small of your back for support. Without bending your knees, lower your legs to just above the floor, then raise them back to their vertical position. Do 10 reps, rest 10 seconds, then do another 10 reps.
From an extended pushup position, engage your abs and hike your hips into the air until your body forms an inverted V shape. Hold for three counts, then lower yourself back into an extended pushup position, keeping your back flat. Repeat sequence for 60 seconds.
Pullup Knee Raise
Using an overhand grip, perform a standard pullup. Once your head clears the bar, hold the contraction while bending your knees to your chest. (For a simpler version, hang from the pullup bar, arms extended. Bend your knees to your chest, then release them.) Do 8-10 reps, 30 seconds rest. 2 sets.
Grab an 8-10 pound medicine ball or dumbbell. Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat in front of you. Hold the weight with both hands, arms straight in front of your chest. Lean back so that your body is at 45 degrees (mid-situp position). Twist to the right, letting your arms swing over to your right side. Twist back to the left, letting your arms swing to the left side of your body. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, rest 10 seconds. Do 3 sets.
Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat in front of you. Lean back so that your body is at 45 degrees (mid-situp position). Extend your arms in front of you as a counterbalance. Engage your abs and sink deeper toward the floor (don’t let your shoulders touch the ground), then immediately return to the start position. Pulse up and down for 30 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Side Cable Pull
You’re going to need to be at a cable machine for the next two. An excellent replacement for the machine, though, is long, stretchy bands fastened securely to a doorway. For this, stand perpendicular to the cable machine or doorway, left side closest, placing the pulley or band at chest height. Keeping your feet and hips stationary, twist your torso to the left and grab the pulley or band handle with both hands, arms straight. Pull until your arms are straight in front of your body and your torso is straight over your legs. Hold for one count, then twist back toward the machine to return to the start position. Do 8-10 reps, then repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 complete sets.
Half-kneel perpendicular to the cable machine or band left side closest to the machine and left knee bent in front of you (right leg on the floor). Place the pulley or band just above head height. Keeping your lower body stationary, twist to the left and grab with both hands, arms straight. Pull on a diagonal until your arms are down at your right hip, torso twisted to your right side. Hold for one count, then twist back to the left to return to the start position. Do 8-10 reps, then repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 complete sets.