7 Flat Stomach Workout Moves No One Tells You About
Having probably read a ton of articles on flat stomach workout secrets, you’re likely aware that “core” training is really nothing more than a marketing ploy exaggeration.
Take a moment and consider the following: In the good old days of muscle bound men strutting their stuff at Muscle Beach, Venice, they would develop their abs with pretty basic moves like crunches and sit ups and complement that with regular lifting moves which helped them build a strong mid section better than most people these days have.
Yet it’s still so simple to convince people of core training because after doing just a small amount of crunches you already feel a burning sensation. However this is simply lactic acid and not real progressive results.
Let’s make a comparison quickly. Imagine you were locked in a room that contained a couple million mosquitoes and you had a fly swatter in each hand. After 15 minutes you would have probably killed a hundred thousand or so and have a real pump in your triceps yet this wouldn’t be the most effective way to train your arms if your goal was to build a muscular arm.
This is pretty much how “effective” all this new age core training is for the abdominals.
I’m not saying that focusing on developing the core is a waste of time or anything. There are undoubtedly many benefits to having a strong midsection such as eliminating lower back pain, improving your posture and mobility etc.
But this can all be done in just a few minutes per workout doing straight forward and uncomplicated ab workout exercises.
Without making you look like some infomercial victim the 7 ab exercises listed below will definitely improve your appearance and the way you work out and even strengthen and keep your lower back safe and healthy.
1 – Standing Cable Crunch
In any sporting profession athletes do what they do in an upright position yet all these magazines tell you to do these ab moves on the ground lying down. Why do they do this?
Most of the time it’s because they want you to believe you can isolate the abdominal region this way which is completely incorrect.
Your core shouldn’t be trained separately in isolation like this. Its main job is to keep you balanced and stable in different positions and movements.
Another thing to note is that you really shouldn’t attempt to remove the role of your hip flexors from abdominal exercises because in the long run you’re asking for health-related problems.
Only in a few cases where you’re primarily focused on aesthetics is this acceptable but only for a short period of time.
Your abdominal mucles and hip flexors are a tag team that work in tandem meaning that in almost all cases they should be worked together which makes the standing cable crunch an ideal exercise to challenge your abs in a dynamic standing position.
How it’s done
Attach a handle or rope to a high pulley cable station and take a step or two backwards and in a controlled manner, bend forward forcefully and then come back up slowly before flexing your core and forcing the weight back down again.
If you’re looking to modify this exercise you can easily change the cable attachment or your foot positioning.
Aim to do 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions which is the complete opposite of what you hear core training gurus talk about when they say stuff like do 500 repetitions!
But think about it. Your abs are just like any other muscle in your body so you should be treating it just the same by adding weight and training it hard.
2 – Full Contact Twist
If you’re looking for a really good ab movement that screams functional training then you seriously need to try this ab and oblique blasting exercise.
The full contact twist isn’t just good at strength building but it also helps you develop muscles that let you shoot your hips forward. This is great for anyone involved in martial arts training.
How it’s done
Take a regular barbell and put some plates on just the one end. Hold up the heavy end and push the empty end against a corner in the room or against something that will keep it completely in place.
Grab a hold of the sleeve of the barbell and position yourself so that if you’re holding the sleeve in front of your groin, the bar extends to your left and into the corner.
Starting from this position and keeping your body nice and tight, pivot to the opposite side so that the bar ends up in front of your groin again and is extending to your right and into the corner.
Always maintain locked elbows during the entire set. Keep alternating from the one side of your body to the other.
This is an easy exercise for your ego to get in the way so be mindful not to rush your reps but rather do them carefully and slowly with a tightened core throughout. Correct form makes your flat stomach workout
Keep your back safe by not bending or twisting it during your reps. Everything should be done as smoothly as possible in a controlled manner. Always bring the bar down slowly and flex your abs before rotating to the opposite side.
A good goal to shoot for is 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions. Gradually increase weight over time because the main reason for bad form on this exercise is simply using too much weight too soon.
3 – Bench Press Sit Up
If you ever feel like your core is letting you down on really hard lifts like trying to do a maximum weight squat or deadlift then this exercise is going to solve all those problems and actually help you make more personal records.
This move lets you hit your abs harder than any crunch, weighted or otherwise. I recommend you don’t be shy with this flat stomach workout killer as it will pay off down the road.
How it’s done
Either lie down with your back on the floor or simply use a bench and grab hold of a barbell with your arms extended overhead. In this position, perform a regular crunch but don’t let your arms sway backwards or forwards.
Really focus on keeping the barbell fixed in a vertical plane and flex every last shred of power from your abs.
If that isn’t already difficult enough, you can further increase the challenge by using dumbbells or kettlebells instead of a barbell. Yet another killer variation is to do this with just one dumbbell at a time to really stress your core.
No matter the intensity variation you’re doing, make sure to pause at the top of the crunch and hold it for 2 seconds before going back down.
Go as heavy as you can with this exercise! Aim for 3 sets of 6 repetitions.
4 – Suitcase Deadlift
No ab sculpting, flat stomach workout plan is complete without giving the obliques the respect they deserve. This is considered a classic as far as oblique training goes but it’s also incredibly difficult to do. It’s not uncommon for the strongest of guys to attempt this and be humbled their first time around.
Having said that, mastery of this exercise can only result in a ridiculously strong set of obliques which will directly translate to being able to lift serious amounts of weights for both your squats and deadlifts.
How it’s done
This exercise is basically a regular deadlift done with the weight at your side instead of in front of you. Grab a dumbbell and set it on the ground.
Get into the starting deadlift position keeping your back straight and your chest high and pick up the dumbbell like you would pick up a suitcase. Stand up straight and keep your torso as completely straight as possible.
Reverse the motion and put the dumbbell back on the floor. This makes one repetition.
Aim to do 3 or 4 sets of 5 repetitions with this difficult exercise for each side of your body.
If at any point you lean or twist during this movement you have to lower the weight you’re using otherwise you defeat the purpose of this exercise which is to force your core to stabilize your body with an uneven weight distribution.
5 – Pitch Fork Lift
This move right here will give you as hard an oblique workout as you’ll ever get doing any other oblique killing exercise but you’ve probably never even heard of this truely functional training move before.
You may have experienced a problem where you fall forward during a set of squats or maybe you’ve noticed you aren’t capable of completely pushing against your weight belt while doing deadlifts or squats.
If that’s the case then with this move you’ll actually be making new personal records.
How it’s done
This move is essentially a simulation of shovelling where you take a barbell, put some weight on one end and pretend you’re digging up dirt with this “shovel”.
Take hold of the empty side of the bar with one hand, elbow locked out and the other hand holds the middle of bar or whatever’s comfortable. The bar should be across the front of your body just like a spade would be.
Bend your knees and bend sideways at the waist on the same side as the loaded end of the bar. Now press the bar down with your locked arm and straighten at the waist and if you want to make the move slightly more difficult, also rotate towards your spine as if you were about to drop the imaginary dirt you dug up.
Return to the starting position and do a total of 6 repetitions or less for 3 – 5 sets. Do this for both sides of your body.
Keep in mind that this will also work your arms. Start with a light weight and progress slowly and safely. Who ever said a flat stomach workout doesn’t work the arms?
6 – Dragon Flags
Synonymous with Bruce Lee and Rocky IV this advanced ab killer will really challenge your core so you actually need to already have strong abdominals with really good control of your body if you want to execute these correctly.
How it’s done
Grab a bench and lie down flat. Place your hands at your head and grip the bench from the sides. Now you need to lift your legs and core into the air so that only a small portion of your upper back is on the bench.
Keeping your legs straight and in line with your hips and torso, lower your body until you’re just an inch or two above the bench or as low as you can go if you aren’t at the level of strength and flexibility yet.
7 – Standing Ab Wheel
Everyone knows the ab wheel. It’s an infomercial classic. But it actually works really well. You just need to ensure that it’s performed correctly. Otherwise all of that back and forth rolling on your knees will be as effective as drinking a diet coke is for fat loss.
It’s a straight forward movement. Get on your knees, hold the ab wheel and roll yourself as far out as you can and then all the way back. But you need to keep you hips pulled back slightly and not let them drop. Think of the way a cat looks when it’s really frightened.
Here’s where the main difference comes in. For most people who have decent core strength, the ab wheel is too easy and the only way to get a good flat stomach workout from it is to do 307 reps. Way too much.
So how do we fix this? Simple. We do the exact same move but instead of being on your knees, you’re on your feet.
This is so much more difficult and to pull this one off you need a really strong back and control of your body just like with the dragon flags above.
How it’s done
Do the standing variation just like you would for the kneeling one but standing up and bent at the waist. When you return to the starting position (ab wheel at feet) your feet will act like anchors and be used to pull you back up.
Start out with very few repetitions per set as this is one heck of an abdominal busting exercise. Work your way up to sets of 10 repetitions. That would be impressive.
Bonus Exercise – Rack Pulls
You might be wondering what is an exercise like rack pulls doing in an article listing ab workouts since they’re specifically aimed at working your back and hamstrings really hard.
Well this is definitely a back and hamstring exercise but if you’ve done these before you know just how hard they nail your abs as you need to keep your balance throughout this heavy lift.
How it’s done
This must be considered a heavy leg exercise with a bonus benefit of hitting your abs hard and not specifically as an abdominal move.
Load a bar in a rack at knee level or slightly above or below knee level and deadlift the weight. Use low repetitions in the range of 1 to 3 and perform 5 to 8 sets.
For the most part, incorporating a flat stomach workout three times per week into your regular workout program should be sufficient if you’re trying to look good or just develop a strong core.
If you’re involved in sports or power lifting you could do anywhere from 3 to 5 ab workouts per week.
You can’t really go overboard when it comes to ab workouts.
Perform one of these listed exercises at the end of your workouts several times per week and you’ll definitely start noticing strength, performance and aesthetic gains.