The 5 Most-effective Ab Workouts to Get A Flat Stomach Fast, According to Science

most effective ab workouts
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For as long as we can remember, men and women have strived to achieve the perfect six-pack abs. However, many of us have come up short, settling instead for the “dad-bod” or for other similar body types.

To be clear, it’s perfectly OK to maintain whatever physique you can. There is no reason to starve yourself or risk injury on the quest to get shredded.

That being said, if you want to try to get your abs stronger and more defined, you need to have the right tools at your disposal.

In this article, we’ll briefly discuss some important factors that can help you get the abs of your dreams. Then, we’ll dive into some of the best exercises* to assist you on this journey.

*These exercises are based on a study from 2001 that analyzed the efficacy of various popular ab exercises. 

How to Get a Flat Stomach Fast

First and foremost, you need to lose the fat sitting on top of your abs. If you don’t do this, no amount of crunches or situps will help you get a six-pack. 

The most important part of a six-pack ab plan is a good diet. A low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet will help you shed pounds and lose any excess fat tissue. Fixing your diet is an absolute necessity, if you want to get washboard abs.

In addition to losing weight through diet, there are a variety of exercises which can help you define your abs. Let’s take a look at the top five!

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The 5 Most Effective Ab Workouts

The 5 Most Effective Ab Workouts

There are four main abdominal muscles that make up the “abs” as we think of them.

These include the rectus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, and the transversus abdominis. Each of these muscles will be emphasized to varying degrees when you complete the following exercises.

1. Supine Bicycles

Ab Exercise #1: Supine Bicycle Crunches

The bicycle exercise is a classic ab exercise. There is some research to show that this exercise is superior to many others with regard to rectus abdominis emphasis. So, if you want to get a six-pack, it’s time to hit the bike (the ab bike).

How to Perform:

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands on your temples. 
  • Lift your feet off of the ground keeping your knees bent.
  • Kick your left leg straight out in front of you, in line with your body. At the same time, tuck your right knee to your chest as you rotate your trunk to the right, bringing your left elbow to your right knee.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 12 reps per side, per set, for 3 sets per session.
  • Perform this exercise 3-4 times per week.

2. Captain’s Chair Leg Raises

The captain’s chair is a specialized piece of gym equipment. While most gyms will have one, you can’t find them everywhere. But fear not! If need be, you can perform this exercise by hanging from a pullup bar or by supporting yourself on a standing dip bar.

How to Perform:

  • Press your back into the captain’s chair bench. Rest your forearms on the designated pads, gripping the handles.
  • Keeping your knees bent, tuck your knees to your chest slowly. If you want an added challenge, keep your knees straight during the move.
  • Slowly lower your legs back down to complete the rep.
  • Perform 10-15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.
  • Complete this exercise 3-4 times per week.

3. Swiss Ball Situps

Swiss Ball Sit Ups

Physioballs, swiss balls, exercise balls: whatever you want to call them, you need to put them to use. These apparatuses provide instability, forcing you to use all of your ab muscles so that you stay stable during the exercise. 

How to Perform:

  • Carefully lie down on the Swiss ball, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. 
  • Cross your arms over your chest and perform a sit-up.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position to complete the rep.
  • Perform 15 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.
  • Complete this exercise 3-4 times per week.

4. Straight Leg Situps

Ab Exercise #4: Toe Touch Crunches

This exercise requires significant flexibility in the lower body. So, if you can’t get it right away, don’t worry! With continued practice, you’ll be busting these out easily. 

How to Perform

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Reach your hands up to the ceiling.
  • Straighten out your legs so that your heels are facing the ceiling.
  • Crunch upward, attempting to touch your toes with your hands.
  • Slowly lower back down and repeat for 10 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.
  • Complete this workout 3-4 times per week.

5. Reverse Situps

Ab Exercise #7: Reverse Crunches

Regular situps are great, but reverse situps may be even better! This move is terrific for working the entirety of the rectus abdominis, when performed correctly.

How to Perform:

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your feet off of the ground, along with your low back as you kick your feet to the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower back down to the ground, one vertebrae at a time, until you return to the starting position.
  • Complete 10-12 reps per session, for 3 sets per session.
  • Perform this workout 3-4 times per week.

Conclusion

The perfect six-pack is elusive for many people. While you may never get the exact body you dream of, you can take a number of steps to improve your health and your physique.

By cleaning up your diet and performing great ab exercises, like those described above, you’ll be well on your way to getting more defined, stronger abs! Try this workout out today!

Works Cited

  1. Oliva-Lozano, J. M., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Core Muscle Activity During Physical Fitness Exercises: A Systematic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health17(12), 4306. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124306
  2. Ace-commissioned study new study puts the crunch on ineffective ab … (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2023, from https://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/BestWorstAbExercises.pdf 
  3. Kim J. Y. (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome30(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS
Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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