Strong man performing hanging leg raises as part of a six pack workout.

Your Go-To Six Pack Workout For a Strong and Powerful Core

If you’re following the trends in exercise and fitness, you’ve probably heard the phrase “core strength.” Most people want a six-pack and the way to get it is through developing core strength. Here is your go-to six pack workout to get both.

Your core strength refers to developing your abdominal (stomach) and back muscles to increase their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced.

It’s important to work your core because it can help prevent lower back pain.

Core Strength

As you get older, you’re more prone to lower back problems and injuries. Building a strong core will help give you the stability that you need and prevent those problems

Have you ever experienced lower back pain? Some days your muscles might tighten up so much that you can’t stand straight and your spine resembles a snake. Other times you might have to lie flat on your back for days, unable to move around comfortably. You don’t want to live with the fear that your back might go out at any time. Instead, get serious about your ab and lower back workouts, and strengthen your core. If you keep your core strong, you can be free of back problems even in your 60s, 70s and even 80s.

What Is Core Strength From Duke Sports Medicine

Core Strengthening | Duke Health

Getting to the Core of It All — Your Abdominal Muscles

Your six abdominal muscles all affect your posture. Your deeper abdominal muscles, located close to your spine, have the greatest effect on your posture. Therefore, they also have the greatest ability to help you create and maintain a healthy spine.

From deep to superficial, your abdominal muscles are:

  • Transverse Abdominal
  • Left and right Internal Obliques
  • Left and right External Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis

Transversus Abdominis – Your Deepest Ab Muscle

Your transverse abdominus muscle is the deepest of your six ab muscles. It can have a tremendous effect on your posture. You can’t touch this muscle from the outside. It wraps around your torso, creating an effect similar to a back support belt.

Internal Oblique Muscles and Your Posture

Your internal obliques are a pair of ab muscles located on each side of your torso. They’re the next deepest after the transverse abdominus. Your internal obliques also affect your posture tremendously, although slightly less than your transversus because of their more superficial position. Your internal obliques are involved in, among other things, the rotation and lateral flexion of your spine.

External Obliques

Your external obliques are another pair of ab muscles located on either side of your torso. The external obliques are more superficial than the transverse abdominus and internal obliques. Consequently, they have less of an effect on your posture. Like the internal obliques, your external obliques are also involved in the rotation and lateral flexion of your spine, among other things.

Rectus Abdominus

Your rectus abdominus muscle is the most superficial abdominal muscle. It also affects your posture, but not as much as the deeper internal obliques and transversus. The rectus abdominis muscle is responsible for that 6-pack ab look that you can get if you’re very fit.

Spinal Action of Your Abs

Because muscles work in groups, your abdominal muscles are called spinal flexors. Their main job is to bend your spine forward when they contract concentrically. Your back muscles counterbalance the action of your abs, so they’re called spinal extensors. This means that when your abdominals shorten to flex your spine, your back muscles lengthen and stretch, and vice versa.

Core Strength and Intra Abdominal Pressure

Anatomy of Core Stability

The Best Ab Workout for You

There are many different theories about the best way to build your abs. When should you workout? How often? How many reps? Some training strategies will work better for you than for other people. However, you’re not likely to get the best results from completing a lot of reps with any muscle group, including your abs. Try treating your abs like any other muscle group and work them two or three times a week, with two days of rest between workouts.

Train Your Lower Abs First

The key to a flat tummy and sexy waistline is to train your lower abs first. Why? Because your lower ab muscles are smaller, weaker, and less developed than your upper ab muscles. If you train your upper ab muscles first, then you’ll be too tired to train your lower ab muscles adequately. If you’re like most people and do lots of crunches and sit-ups, your upper ab muscles receive most of the training at the expense of your lower ab muscles. That’s why the “pooch” below your belly button is so hard to lose.

The Answer to the “pooch” – Hanging Leg Raises

One of the best ab exercises you can do is hanging leg raises. If your arms aren’t strong enough for that, you can also do leg raises while lying on a bench or the floor.

Abdominal Crunches – Found in Your Current Six-Pack Workout

Abdominal crunches are the most common abdominal exercise for any six-pack workout, but they’re also the one that is most often done incorrectly. It might not be immediately obvious how to do a crunch with proper form, but with a few simple adjustments, it can be an extremely effective exercise. You should follow this basic technique:

  • Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  • Hold your hands wherever you feel comfortable, for example on your chest or beside your head — just be sure you don’t pull on your head.
  • To increase the effectiveness of the crunch movement, keep your head and neck straight. Don’t lift up into a sit-up, because that works your hip flexors and can strain your back. Instead, try to crunch up towards the ceiling. This will increase the tension on your abs.
  • Hold at the top of the movement for a second and squeeze hard.
  • Repeat until failure.

Tip: At the top, when you’re squeezing, hold your body up and breathe in and out a few times, trying to relax every other muscle except your abs. This will intensify the contraction and get you better results. It will also help you tighten your abdominal area.

Abdominal Crunch Machines

There are a number of machines you can use for your abdominal crunches. Pick one, and use this simple technique for the best ab workout:

  • Adjust the seat height so that the chest pad is at mid-chest height.
  • Sit and position your feet behind the lower roller pads. Grip the handles loosely.
  • Exhale slowly and contract your abdominals downward in a crunch motion.
  • Breathe normally. 
  • Return the weight to the starting position with a controlled movement. Tip: To work your lower abs, concentrate more on lifting with your feet rather than pulling down on the handgrips.
  • Now, adjust the seat position for your desired range of motion.
  • Adjust the chest support pad so the center of the pads aligns with the top of your chest.
  • Grasp the handles and rotate your torso. Be sure your knees are placed against the support pads. Return slowly to starting position.
  • Rotate your seat position to train the opposite side of your torso.

Tip: for a slim midsection, it’s important that you don’t use too much weight when you’re working your obliques. Developing your obliques too much will give you a “blocky” look.

Lower Back Workout

To strengthen your lower back muscles, use the 45-Degree Hyperextension Roman Chair. To perform this exercise correctly:

  • Position your feet on the platform with the roller pads against your calves.
  • Adjust the upper pads so that they rest high on your upper thighs.
  • Lower your torso slowly and stop just before your body reaches a 90-degree angle.
  • Lift yourself back up until your back is straight in line with the rest of your body.
  • Don’t go beyond this point and arch your back!
  • Repeat.

You Need More Than a Six-Pack Workout to See Your Abs

Exercise is only half the picture in developing six-pack abs. You can develop great core strength and never see your abs through the fat. You must combine diet and exercise to truly see the results of your effort. If you need some guidance on finding a diet that will work for you, check out our nutrition section. You can also check out health.gov for some baseline dietary advice.

Enjoy The Results!

You can use this six pack workout to train all parts of your stomach and lower back. You’ll strengthen your core and reduce your risk of back problems. You can also use this workout to build a great six-pack that you can show off at the pool or the beach.

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