Do you want six-pack abs? Ask 100 people that question and you’ll get the same answer from almost everyone. After all, who wouldn’t want a chiseled midsection, where every trace of body fat has been stripped away? Count out sumo wrestlers and buffet connoisseurs, and the verdict would be unanimous.
However, change the question a bit and your “yes” responses drop precipitously: Do you want to work hard for six-pack abs? To that, you may get some still nodding eagerly, but they may not even realize the level of dedication needed. A six-pack doesn’t happen by accident, unless you’re one of the truly blessed few who had the luck to emerge from the gene pool with a classically carved middle. For the rest of us, it’s a matter of strict dieting, a dedication to weight training and cardio, and a routine that challenges every last muscle fiber in your abdominal wall to its absolute limits and beyond.
For that workout, look no further. We’ve assembled five intense exercises that together not only will exhaust you but also will likely leave you doubled over with a scorching muscle burn if you do as instructed and take each set to failure. You’ll start with a superset aimed at your lower abs, hanging leg raises and hanging knee raises — arranged in this order because knee raises are easier to perform, allowing you to continue repping after you can no longer lift your straight legs to a position parallel with the floor.
Next are exercise-ball crunches for the upper abs, decline-bench twisting crunches to engage the obliques, and a finishing move made famous by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV, the dragon flag. The first few times you attempt this workout, you may only be able to muster one or two reps per set of this high-impact final exercise, but no matter — stick with it, and you’ll gain the strength and coordination to do more. Remember, it’s this level of dedication that’ll help set you apart from those who merely want six-pack abs, and those who are willing and ready to do everything it takes to achieve them.
Exercise: Hanging Leg Raise (superset with the Knee Raise)
Exercise: Hanging Knee Raise
Exercise: Exercise-Ball Crunch
Exercise: Decline-Bench Twisting Crunch (with medicine ball)
Exercise: Dragon Flag (i.e., Rocky IV’s)