Top 40 Ab Exercises: Best Ab Exercises Ranked

(Last Updated On: March 4, 2021)

best ab exercises

A good set of abs are highly desired by people both in and out of the fitness world. This is because abs can be a real head turner and a sign of how fit you really are.

Getting abs isn’t all that easy though. To get abs you need a good diet, some hard work and the right exercises.

We will cover each of these along with cardio you need to be sure you get that six-pack you are after.

Eating to Get Abs

Eating right has a HUGE impact on if you get abs or not. You may have heard the statement “abs are made in the kitchen” and it is very true. This means that your diet is the most important thing to take into consideration when trying to get abs. and it is also the most difficult.

Think about it, even if you do tons of ab exercises and have a super-strong core, no one will see those abs if they are covered in fat. This means if you want to have abs that people can see you are going to have to have low body fat so people will be able to see them. And don’t listen to any of those idiotic infomercials that tell you that you just use some stupid contraption like a belt to burn the fat on your abs either, it won’t work. It is impossible to reduce fat in one area of the body. You need to reduce fat over the entire body and a good diet is essential in order for this to happen. When it comes to dieting for abs here are some important things to consider:


Keep carb intake low – Carbohydrates need to be kept in check when you are dieting to get abs. The reason you need to keep your carbs in check is that excess carbs and simple carbs end up getting stored as fat and that is the opposite of what you want. You also want to eat more of the slow-digesting, complex carbs as these will be less likely to end up as fat. They also contain more fiber, keep you fuller for longer have lower insulin levels. All of these are good things for someone looking to reduce body fat.

The simple, fast-digesting carbs are something you should avoid like the plague. These are the carbs that turn to fat, have little or no fiber and spike sugar levels.

This chart below gives you a better idea of what to eat and what to avoid when it comes to carbs.

eating to get abs

Eat more Protein – For protein, you should eat around 1 gram or slightly less per pound of body weight per day. This means if you weigh 200lbs you should try to keep your protein intake around 160-200 grams per day.  Good sources of protein include grilled chicken breast, salmon, lean beef, tuna, eggs, beans, soy and kale. Deep-fried chicken, processed meats and fatty beef should all be avoided.

Eat Quality Fats – Contrary to the old myth, eating fats doesn’t really make you fat. Not all fats are the same though. The kind of fats you want to be eating are healthy fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, seeds, and Greek yogurt. Again, deep-fried food and saturated fats are not what you want to be eating, nor is ice cream or candy bars or commercially baked goods.

all about fats

Don’t starve yourself – Some people think all they need to do is starve themselves to burn fat but that’s not really a good way to do it. Starving yourself can really mess up your metabolism. It’s ok to be hungry at times but starving yourself is not the way to go.

Drink water – Water is the best thing to be drinking. It keeps you fuller and keeps you running smoothly. Drink at least 100 ounces per day.


Related: Best Fat Burners For Ripped Abs


Cardio to Get Abs

track girl with abs

When it comes to getting a nice set of abs cardio can be a great help, it isn’t always necessary but it does help.

When it comes to cardio the best cardio for burning fat is HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). This is where you do high-intensity exercises like sprint or burpees for a short period of time then rest and do it again. Something like 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 40 seconds of rest would be typical. You can learn more about HIIT training in our article How and Why to Do HIIT Training. You can also get some good sprinting HIIT workouts in our article Fat-Blasting HIIT Workouts.

HIIT isn’t for everyone though. If you don’t do HIIT training I would recommend hitting the treadmill for a half-hour each workout or using some good finisher exercises after your workout to burn fat fast.


The Abdominal Muscles

Abs diagram

There are actually quite a few muscles that make up the abs and there are also several layers to them. The Rectus Abdominis is what most people think of when they think about abs, these are the muscles down the front that people refer to as the “six-pack”.

There are other muscles and a lot more that goes into having great abs though aside from the Rectus Abdominis. The other muscles and layers affect not only the appearance of your abs but they also go a long way in determining your posture as well.

In this article, we will cover exercises that work all of the different muscles that make up the abdominals. All abdominal exercises hit the abs different and work different sections and layers of the abs. With as many exercises as we are covering all the layers and every section of the abdominals will be covered and we will let you know what each exercise works so you can be sure to use the right exercises for you.

So, let’s get to it!


40 Best Ab Exercises Ranked

Here is the part you have been waiting for, the 40 best ab exercises on the planet. Mix a few of these bad boys into your routine and take your abs to the next level.

#40 Heel Touches

ab exercises

Obviously, since we are in 40th place it won’t be the most effective or the most difficult but it is a good exercise for novice lifters and beginners. This exercise targets mainly the obliques along with the rectus abdominis.


#39 Sit-ups

best ab exercises

This one used to be the standard ab exercise. Usually, the older exercises are the most reliable, this is not one of them though. This one is a bit outdated but it is still used by some people. This exercise hits the rectus abdominis and the external obliques, it also works the muscles in the quads. This one is ranked 39 for a reason though, it’s not the best.


#38 Side Crunch

side crunch

This one targets the obliques as the main muscle worked. Another good exercise for beginners as well as advanced lifters wanting to hit the obliques.


#37 Weighted Sit-up

Weighted sit up

This one takes the sit-up a bit further and makes it more difficult. It also hit the obliques and the rectus abdominis. Still not that great of an exercise but slightly better than the regular sit-up.

#36 Med Ball Twist

med ball twist

This one looks like it belongs on the cover of Shape Magazine, doesn’t it? This one will work your entire core and really targets the obliques.


#35 Leg raise

Leg raise exercise

The leg raise is an old standard that is effective at hitting the lower abs in particular. Take it to the next level by doing this exercise on a decline bench or have your partner push your feet down once they are raised.


#34 Regular Crunch

Get back in shape after winter

This one is another one of the basic exercises. The crunch focuses mainly on the rectus abdominis along with the transverse abdominis and a bit of the obliques. The crunch is a favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and he used many kinds of crunches in his training.


#33 Bird Dog

Best ab exercise

While looking at this exercise you may think it doesn’t hit the abs but it does. Maintaining balance on this one requires a high level of core activation so you don’t fall over. This is also a great exercise for improving posture and glute activation.


#32 Laying wipers

Wipers exercises

There are 2 kinds of wipers, the laying version which we will discuss here as well as a hanging version we will discuss later. This exercise hits the rectus abdominis as well as the obliques.


#31 Cross Crunches

This crunch variation targets the internal and external obliques. This is one of the best exercises out there for people looking to really work the obliques and it is one you can really feel working when you do it.


#30 Sit-Up and Throw

sit up and throw

This sit-up version is popular with athletes. This can be done with a partner or it can be done against a wall as in the picture above. This one hits the same muscles as the sit-up but it works them a bit harder and is more fun to do.