Most Effective Ab Exercises: Best Ab Workout for Men and Women | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

Most Effective Ab Exercises: Best Ab Workout for Men and Women

I’ve finally found what I think is the best ab workout for men and women that includes the most effective ab exercises to get the kind of abs you’d like.  Whether you’re a guy who wants deep six pack abs or a woman who wants a toned flat stomach, the principles of this ab workout routine will be effective.  I’ve consistently recommended core exercises like planks, but Rusty Moore’s Abs Blueprint 1.0 lays out some excellent strategies for using these and other ab exercises to tighten, tone, and mold a great set of six pack abs.  Rusty is actually offering this report for free along with a videos discussing numerous strategies on his Fitness Black Book Facebook page; I’d recommend downloading it so you can read firsthand about some of the tips I review below. 

I always feel the need to preface any article about six pack abs with two points.  First, you need low body fat for your abdominal muscles to be visible.  Check out my Fitness in a Flash report or How to Get a Beach Body in 2 Months or Less for more information on burning fat.  Second, I do not recommend crunches to get six pack abs.  Remember that abdominal muscles are designed to support and straighten your spine.  Consistently “crunching” your spine in an effort to spot reduce abdominal fat is not going to help you sculpt tight abs.

Most Effective Ab Exercises

You can read the full description of these exercises in Abs Blueprint 1.0, but here’s a quick look at the most effective ab exercises:

  • Lying leg raises
  • Hanging leg raises: knee ups, bent leg raise, hanging leg raise, feet-to-the-bar bent leg raises, swinging side-to-side bent knee ups
  • Planks: regular, side
  • Ab wheel
  • Renegade rows
  • Hip bridges & back bridges: not ab exercises, but useful to counteract the effect of bending the spine forward

All of the exercises listed above can be used in anyone’s workout routine.  There’s no reason why men and women can’t perform the same workout.  However, women generally seem to prefer a flat stomach with some definition whereas men want the fully defined six pack.

Best Ab Workout for Women

Here is the Flat Abs Workout from Abs Blueprint 1.0.  It might not look like much on paper but it’s pretty challenging and will help women develop that nice bikini body without getting overly defined abs.

  • Lying leg raises: 5 sets of 20 reps
  • Hip bridges: hold for a few minutes
  • Planks: 2 minute regular plank, 1 minute right side plank, 1 minute left side plank

Best Ab Workout for Men

Here is the Deep Abs Level 1 Workout from Abs Blueprint 1.0.  The idea is to perform a stabilization and ab flexing combo exercise followed by a fatigue exercise and then a density exercise.  It concludes with a stabilization exercise and bridges.

  • Feet-to-the-bar bent leg raises: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Swinging side-to-side bent knee ups: failure
  • Renegade rows: 5 sets of 3 reps
  • Planks: regular plank for at least 2 minutes
  • Hip or back bridges: 5 minutes

My Ab Workout

Like all good workouts, Abs Blueprint 1.0 provides enough flexibility to structure your own routine.  I like to maximize the use of my time through supersets.  As a starting point, I include renegade rows as part of a superset with standing shoulder press.  Then I perform the following ab exercises and bridges:

Superset 1:
Feet-to-the-bar bent leg raises or hanging leg raises with weights: 3 sets of 10 reps
Stand-to-stand back bridges: 3 sets of 10 reps (these are outlined in Convict Conditioning)

Superset 2:
Swinging side-to-side bent knee ups: failure
Ab wheel or planks: at least 2 minutes

Superset 3:
Lying leg raises: 3 sets of 20 reps
Neck bridges: 3 sets of 1 minute

Improve Mind-to-Muscle Link

In addition to the above workout, I’ve decided to add in some morning abdominal exercises to improve my mind-to-muscle link.  This will naturally increase the tone of your abs.  Abs Blueprint 1.0 recommends performing this type of routine for no more than 3 weeks at a time to avoid overtraining.  The first two exercises are not part of Abs Blueprint 1.0; you can learn more about them here.

  • Farmer burns stomach flattener
  • Stomach vacuum
  • Regular plank
  • Side planks
  • Shifting endurance planks

Develop Great Abs

As you can see, this is a pretty comprehensive abdominal workout and is designed for those who want to get great abs.  I’d once again encourage you to download Abs Blueprint 1.0 so that you can read all the details on the exercises and the underlying rationale for the construction of the workouts.  I really believe these are the most effective ab exercises and that this is the best ab workout for men and women.

25 Responses to “Most Effective Ab Exercises: Best Ab Workout for Men and Women”

  • Dave,

    Another solid testament to Abs Blueprint! I started doing the Deep Abs 1 routine and the 5×10 feet to bar bent leg raises are a killer… my abs are sore for a couple of days after!


  • Dave,

    Great Post!

    I love the structure of your workout to save time. It’s funny because I also started to alternate stand to stand back bridges with hanging leg raises. Very productive. The bridging has been the best exercise to help my back pain.

    Greg O’G.

  • It’s a great workout you are writing about … I downloaded the book and tried it out and its feels fantastic ..the only exercise I wont do are the leg raises (even though the book suggest assistant exercises to help) it might just be me but I really feel too much pressure in my lower back when I do those so I just do extra of the other listed exercises.

  • Alykhan,
    The feet to the bar bent leg raises killed me as well. I was sore for 2 days. Definitely a new movement for my muscles!

    I’m all about efficiency…I’ve always tried to pair bridges with leg raises to balance bending the spine forward with backward. Most people don’t realize that bridging is great for the back, nice tip!

    With any exercise that involves flexing the abs, back pain is a concern. I guess your body is telling you that it doesn’t want you to do leg raises.


  • Dave,

    Thanks for mentioning my report. I really believe it will help a lot of people who have had problems in the past getting deep abs.

    Also…have 7 free bonus videos I’m making for people which discuss tactics to drop body fat (to be able to see the abs they develop with the program). They will get these as well.



  • Rusty,
    I always enjoy a good fitness book…and you have a lot of them! I’m looking forward to watching all the bonus videos as well. Sometimes the best things in life really are free!

  • Rick:

    Here’s one I got many years ago, killer ab exercise.

    With moderate weights (I prefer dumbbells, I think it’s tougher due to the independence and balancing), say 20 to 35lbs depending on your strength and size, standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly outward, press the weight over head. While holding the weight over head, go into a full squat, as low as you can go. Pause, and with the weight still over head, slowly stand back up. Bring the weight to your shoulders, repeat.

  • Rick,
    I wrote a post about core exercises and mentioned things like shoulder press and the exercise you’re referring to, known as the overhead squat. It requires significant core strength which means it’s a great ab exercise as well.

  • Toni:

    Great article. I liked how you gave a breakdown of gender-specific exercises too. But all the exercises in the world won’t do any good without eating really cleanly. I used to do lots of core work and then “reward” myself with high-fat food and wonder why my stomach didn’t look any different. As far as the planks go, I’m still working myself up to a minute. The side ones are killer for me. I feel it in my obliques for at least a few hours afterwards.

  • Toni,
    You’re absolute right about eating cleanly. I’d also add intense exercise as well. It’s more important to eliminate fat using these methods than it is to necessarily tone abs. Too many people still believe they can spot reduce ab fat by overloading on crunches.

  • Great article. With all the positive comments, I will now start following the routine and hopefully not get discouraged by the sourness after the first few days of practice.

  • Tommy,
    Good luck with the training.

  • Stephanie:

    Hi Dave, love your website, what a wealth of knowledge and advice. I’ve read a lot of the comments and responses, and gained a lot of information from those as well as your original posts — and I find myself going back to look thru some of your older articles. Any chance you could add a Search tool to the website for quick references to different topics?

  • Stephanie,
    Thanks for the compliments on the site! I’ve tried search tools in the past and never thought the results were good…so instead I created a Best Fitness Tips section where I categorize all my best posts.

    Between this and my 2 free e-books, I think there’s plenty to read! Feel free to ask any questions along the way.


  • Eric:

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and have adoted many of your suggestions for healthy eating and excercise. I have been doing fasted HIIT training 3 times per week and low rep, miminal rest stregnth trainng with regualr cardio on those days at a separate time. I have lost 40 lbs. in 14 weeks. I now reside at 5’10” 200 lbs. I read your recent extreme diet for shredded abs. I feel a bit less concerned now after reading about your diet that by doing intermittent fasting, I am getting a caloric deficit of more than 1,000 calories on many days, while consuming 1600-1800 calories daily. Based on the above activity, am I in danger of losing muscle or should I keep with the current scehdule?

  • Eric,
    Thanks for being a regular reader. You’ve achieved some amazing success in a short amount of time so I commend you on your effort. Just to clarify your question, are you averaging 1,600-1,800 calories per day and going even lower on fasting days or does the 1,600-1,800 calories per day include the impact of fasting days.

    My personal opinion, and one offered by Brad Pilon in Eat Stop Eat, is that you won’t lose muscle mass if you keep training your muscles. If you find that your lifts are starting to decrease, then it might be a concern. In general, I think you can lose 1% of your weight per week without impacting muscle mass. So if you’re losing weight faster than 2lbs per week, loss of muscle mass might be a concern. Overall I think it’s overplayed though. Keep lifting heavier, check your measurements every couple weeks to see if you’re losing size particularly in your shoulders, chest and arms, and you should be good. Worst case, just start eating more calories or cut back a bit on the exercise.

    Sounds like you have some great momentum so keep up the good work!


  • Hey There Notyouraveragefitnesstips,
    Thanks for your thoughts, Hey everyone! i just wanted some tips and tricks from people who have had effective weight loss! im trying to lose a few before summer hits, and just wanted a few ideas for exercise programs, diets, workout videos, ect. im a woman, so girls your POV would be greatly appreciated! thanx!

  • Dear Notyouraveragefitnesstips,
    Thanks you for your post, I downloaded the Nike Women app on my itouch but i don’t know how to use it in order for it to be effective towards helping me loose weight. Help! Please :)

  • Abbey,
    I’m not a woman but would be happy to pass along tips if you’d like. I’m not familiar with the Nike Women app so I won’t be able to help with that.

  • Hello Notyouraveragefitnesstips,
    Neat Post, Also what are some good exercises that give you quick or effective results in the hips & butt area?
    Kindest Regards

  • Abbey,
    In my opinion, the best results come from an overall fat loss routine that includes HIIT. I find that traditional leg exercises can sometimes add too much mass while HIIT results in better toning.

    Here’s my thoughts on HIIT:

    Here’s a more complete women’s workout:


  • Hmmm. That’s given me some more ab exercises for the next phase of my transformation. I’ve been cutting fat for the last few months and am now beginning to see abs. I’ve been looking for other ways to work my abs apart from crunch variations. Thanks for this Dave!

  • Peter,
    Hope this adds some variety to your routine.
    Good luck!

  • Keith:

    How do I build strength in my abs and obliques? Renegade rows are awesome but it trains the obliques isometrically, and planks are muscular endurance, not primarily strength. I find hanging leg raises not as intense anymore. Any good core strength dynamic exercises?

  • Keith,
    Having your given feet to the bar bent knee raises? Similar to the hanging pike. Excellent way to add a little more difficulty to hanging leg raises and work your core a little more.

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