Lots of guys at the gym seek the almighty fitness holy grail – a perfect six-pack. Yet, their ab goals often lack a comprehensive core strengthening strategy. To properly chisel those abs, you need to target all the major core muscles. This means doing a variety of core workouts, not just endless crunches. Fortunately, you can find comprehensive core workouts for men below that can help set you on the path to perfect abs and more. Just make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.
A Quick Ab Rundown
Like a glitzy sports car, abdominal muscles look great on the surface, but the real magic happens below the hood. Your abs and core contain a complex series of muscles that require dedicated training in order to run efficiently. These are the main muscles that make up your core.
- Transversus Abdominis – This deep muscle layer helps stabilize your entire core.
- Rectus Abdominis – This muscle forms your soon-to-be six-pack. It runs on the surface to connect and control movements from the hips to the pelvis.
- External Oblique Muscles – The external obliques facilitate twisting movements.
- Internal Oblique Muscles – This set of muscles helps the body twist.1
All of these muscles work together to control many of your body’s movements. Every time you bend, twist, walk, or sit down you use your core muscles.2 That’s why Tony Horton urges you to keep these muscles tuned-up and strong.
Core Exercises For Men: The Benefits
Aside from the head-turning-at-the-beach benefits, great abs offer a lot of other important potential health benefits.
Research suggests that well-maintained core muscles may help make everyday tasks easier and safer. All those little things you do throughout the day – tying your shoes, or lifting a box – require core strength. So, it’s important to get (and keep) these muscles in shape.3
Core muscles wrap from your stomach to your back to stabilize your spine and support your lower back. As such, regular ab exercises might help support posture and ease lower back discomfort.4
Male core exercises may also enhance your performance of any sport that requires you to twist, move, or create force with your limbs. That’s because core training puts you in unstable positions, forcing your body to balance by engaging the upper and lower abs. This can prepare your body to react in quick, athletic situations.5
Additional potential benefits include support for good posture and an improved sense of well-being.6
Core Workouts For Men To Try At Home
Variety is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing your core routine. That’s why Tony Horton recommends a diverse core workout routine that optimizes all four of the major core muscles. These core workouts target all those core muscles and require limited equipment to give you a well-balanced approach to at-home core exercises.7
The plank is one of the most popular male core exercises. It requires no equipment, and you can do it anywhere. Plus, you can add specific variations like the three-point plank, which strengthens the lower back and builds strong obliques.
- Start in a traditional plank position – arms on the ground with your elbows below the shoulders. Keep your legs straight back, with toes pushing into the floor.
- Lift your left leg off the ground and hold. Maintain a straight line with your entire body, and try not to twist. Lower your leg back to the ground.
- Lift your other leg. Repeat this cycle for 10 reps.8
A reverse crunch is a highly effective alternative to traditional crunches. It puts healthy tension on your lower ab muscles without straining your back.
- Lie down and place your arms at your sides.
- Lift your legs, and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be perpendicular with the floor.
- Bring your knees toward your chest by contracting your abs and breathing out. Hold this for a second.
- Lower your legs back to start. Move slowly and with control to maintain tension on your abs.9
Crank up the abdominal challenge with this vigorous exercise. As you twist your legs from side-to-side, you’ll have to battle gravity with your whole core. All that resistance works wonders on your ab muscles.10
- Lie flat on your back. Bring your arms out perpendicular to your torso.
- Lift your legs up. For an easier version, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. For a more advanced version, straighten your legs toward the sky.
- Twist your body to one side, using your core muscles to prevent your legs from touching the ground. Hold for a beat.
- Return your legs toward center, and lower on the opposite side.11
You can’t defy gravity like Superman, but that’s okay. Resistance from gravity is what you want from this exercise. The weight of your own arms and legs held in the air strengthens core muscles.12
- Lie face down on the floor (preferably on a mat). Stretch your arms and legs out.
- Lift your arms and legs up at the same time until they are several inches off the floor. You should resemble a superhero in flight, with a solid, hollow body position.
- Hold this position for a second, then lower your arms and legs back to the floor. Repeat for 10 reps.13
Ab Wheel Rollout
Think of this exercise as a plank with movement. The extension and return of your entire torso as you roll out will engage tons of core muscles. This exercise requires control, which helps train all those core muscles to work as one.14
- Start in a kneeling position. Hold the roller so that it’s under your shoulders.
- Push the roller forward using your core muscles. Go as far as you can without buckling or falling.
- Rollback to the starting position. Repeat and maintain a straight back through all the progressions.15
Medicine Ball Slam
This one will get your heart rate going and your abs burning. You’ll need a medicine ball with a little spring to it, so it will bounce back to you. Use caution when doing this exercise. A ball that’s too heavy, or with too much bounce, could lead to injury.
- Hold a medicine ball above your head with extended arms. Bend your knees slightly.
- Lean forward at the waist, and slam the ball down on the ground in front of you. Be sure to use your core muscles and not your lower back.
- Follow through with your arms, and catch the ball with your hands as it bounces back up. Or, bend at the knees to pick it up off the ground. Repeat.16
The Core Of The Matter
The core exercises above are a great place to begin your core training. As you build strength, you can add other workouts to your routine. Keep in mind that variety will help you disperse the benefits across all the muscles of your core.
Total and comprehensive core strength will do more than give you great abs, too. It may also enhance your total body health, support good posture, and make everyday tasks easier to perform. These benefits might not land you on the cover of a men’s magazine, but they’ll help you look, feel and move your best. So, get started today.