The Core Workout For Men Who Want Defined Abs

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Work your abs through a variety of angles to hit as many muscle fibres as possible, and keep tension on your core throughout each set. There, we said it. That’s the training “secret” to building a rock-hard six-pack (so long as you’re paying the same care and attention to your diet as to your training, of course).

This six-move abs workout, broken into two three-move tri-sets, will hit your upper, lower and side abs, as well as the deep-lying muscles of your core, to fire up your midsection so that your body has no choice but to make these crucial muscles bigger, stronger and more defined.

Do this workout twice a week for a month, increasing the weight or reps each week, and you’ll sculpt lean hard abs.

How to do the workout

This session is made up of six moves, split into three tri-sets, which are mini-circuits containing three exercises. That means you’ll do moves 1A, 1B and 1C in order, sticking to the reps detailed and only resting after all the reps of the move 1C.

You’ll do three circuits of the first tri-set, which works your upper abs, lower abs, then the fast-twitch muscles of both, then move on to the second tri-set, where all three moves work your entire core, repeating the same pattern with moves 2A, 2B and 2C.

To work your abs harder, engage them before the first rep of each set so that they work to stabilise your core from the get-go.

1A Dumbbell crunch reach

Targets upper abs

Dumbbell crunch

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Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Lie flat on your back with knees bent, holding a dumbbell in both hands. Use your abs to crunch up, keeping your arms straight to raise the weight as high as you can. Hold this top position, then slowly lower your torso back to the start.

1B Straight-leg raise

Targets lower abs

Straight-leg raise

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Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Lie on your back with hands by your head or your sides. With your feet together, raise them as high as you can, while keeping your legs straight. Keep the tension on your lower abs as you slowly lower them back to the start.

1C Mountain climber

Targets core

Mountain climber

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Reps 30 Rest 2min

Start in a press-up position. Without letting your hips sag, draw one knee up and bring it across towards your elbow. Return to the start, then repeat with your other leg. That’s one rep. Keep reps fast but controlled.

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2A Modified V-sit

Targets core

Modified V-sit

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Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Lie with your fingers by your temples and feet off the floor. Draw your knees in towards your chest as your crunch your torso up so your elbows go past your knees. Lower back to the start. Don’t let your heels touch the floor.

2B Seated dumbbell Russian twist

Targets core

Seated dumbbell Russian twist

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Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet slightly raised, holding a dumbbell in front of you. Twist to one side, pause, and then twist back to the other and then return to the middle. That’s one rep. Aim to keep your feet off the floor throughout.

2C Dumbbell T-raise

Targets core

Dumbbell T-raise

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Reps 6 each side Rest 2min

Start in a press-up position with a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your core tight, lift one weight and rotate your torso to point it straight up. Your head should follow the weight. Reverse the move to the start, and alternate your lifting arm with each rep.

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.