Ab Exercises Ranked (BEST TO WORST!)

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There are many different ab exercises, but which are the best of the best and which exercises for abs should you avoid? In this video, I’m breaking down fifteen 6 pack ab exercises to come up with the ones you should focus your effort on and the ones that you are likely better off avoiding all together.

The key to this selection of movements is that they are all popular abs exercises for men or slight variations of them.

Likely, you are doing or have done many of these at some point in your ab training. The key is determining whether or not you have wasted some time on exercises that aren’t giving you the type of results you are looking for.

We start at the bottom of the ranking chart with the worst ab exercises for men and women

Here we have the basic plank, russian twists, dumbbell side bend, lying leg raises and the bicycle crunch. You may be surprised at the inclusion of some of these movements but there is a reason why each of them are mentioned at the bottom. The criteria for selecting and ranking these exercises for abs in this way is based on the need for equipment, ability of the exercise to scale to all ability levels, danger of the movement, or the simple ineffectiveness of the choice considering that there are much better alternatives.

When it comes to the Russian Twist, I actually like the exercise. The problem is, it is probably the most commonly misperformed exercise in the gym for abs. Too often, people do not rotate at all on the exercise and instead tap their hands side to side. This turns this move into nothing more than an isometric with very little benefit to your six pack.

Likewise, the bicycle crunch is regarded as not only one of the most popular ab exercises but one that is most capable of giving you six pack abs if you do it. The problem once again is, due to this high praise many many people do it. However, most do it incorrectly. The lack of rotation at the shoulders is evident and it turns what should be a good move into one that is commonly done wrong.

The obvious choices for the bottom of the rankings are the dumbbell side bend and the lying leg raise. Both of these add unnecessary stress to the low back by either overworking the quadratus lumborum or the hip flexors. The goal of any best ab exercise is to be sure it’s actually working the abs primarily. Neither of these do that.

The basic plank is one of my least favorite exercises for abs since it is too easy and remedial for almost all doing it. You need to find a version of the movement that is challenging enough to knock you out of being able to do it in 90 seconds or less.

Moving up the chart from the worst to the best ab exercises, we have the better category. Here we have the hanging leg raise and the ab wheel rollout. These are actually good movements as well but they have major limitations that renders them less globally successful in helping everyone that does them. For instance, if your grip strength is weaker than your abs then you are likely to have to come down from the bar before your abs fatigue on the hanging leg raise.

Up the scale even further we have the better still category. Here you find the hanging knee raise, hanging corkscrew and the single sided slow carry. The hanging knee raise is an improvement on the hanging leg raise since it minimizes the tendency of the hip flexors to become too dominant in the movement.

The single sided slow carry is an amazing way to build up your lateral pillar strength of your core and abs. You will see that in order to keep your shoulders level you have to contract the opposite side oblique hard. The extended time under tension by walking slow is going to add an extra demand to your abs.

The almost best category gives us some ab exercises that are amazing. The swiper works the lower abs while ensuring that you lift your pelvis instead of your legs. The gymnast tuck is a home option that also hits the lower abs hard. The levitation crunch works the upper abs with a minimal ab exercise that anyone can do, and the side bridge twist involves rotation as well.

The best ab exercise however is the sliding tuck. This bodyweight ab exercise can be done with just some socks on a slick floor. The key is to not pull with the hip flexors but rather to hinge the pelvis into posterior tilt with the strength of the abs. Add a slight turn at the bottom and even pull in the knees if you desire more lower ab exercises.

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40 Comments

  1. Ligth

    Can you combine ab wheel rollout and sliding tucks?

  2. Antoine Castle

    Is one going to mention that the video is entirely mislabeled?

    It should read :(WORST TO BEST!) in title, but it is backwards.

  3. Neil Beech

    I love when you show the Best of the Best!

  4. Steven A

    I did sliding tucks for a while, but figured they were basically the same as the rollout, so I dismissed them. Shows how much I know…

    Edit: For anyone still here, if you have the equipment, are gymnast tucks better than sliding tucks?

  5. Jayd Galindez

    Waiting for the leg episode of best to worst

  6. Sean Momentum

    The BIGGEST thing that I have found that works best with abs (and no, not that ITS MADE IN THE KITCHEN)

    Is actually slowing down the movements, feeling the squeeze and as hard as possible for 3-5 secs per rep.

    Feeling the squeeze is so much more important than doing thousands of reps.

    I hope this really helps someone out there

    PS. Nutrition does help too though ahaha

  7. Little Lady Cook

    I have such a weak upper body I dont think I can do half of these 😅😅

  8. FrenchieZooted

    Curl my ass to the person in front of me? GOT IT😭😂

  9. Suzi Brown

    Can you do the sliding twist safely with no rotator cuff in your right shoulder and 3 disk bulges L3 L4 L5?

  10. april Bell

    Absolutely would like to see you perform these ab exercises in supersets

  11. rich caplan

    For the hanging – can ab sling straps be used?

  12. I Screenshot NFTs

    Yo, i couldnt do side bridge twist. That is impossible to do. I lack stability.

  13. Ollie Ballard

    Wondering what Jeff’s take is on using a Swiss ball for tucks?

  14. childof ardour

    Searching "swiper" as exercise name on google brings up a completely different exercise named the same. Looks like only Jeff calls this exercise "Swipers" on the whole internet 😀 Does anyone know any other names for it?

  15. Nikolay

    Well you need really lots of socks

  16. Karl Monahan

    Sorry Jeff, I bear no disrespect but I have to call you out on something. There is no such thing as upper, mid and lower abdominals. The Rectus Adominus is one large muscle separated by 4 individual tendons that hold the large muscle in place, with three tendons stretched across the upper, mid and lower portions of the one muscle giving a divided three section look, and one tendon stretched down the middle of the entire Rectus Abdominis muscle which is where we get the look of a six pack, or eight pack, (it is not eight individual muscles), and the infamous upper, mid, and lower abdominals. So anyway we work our "Abs", we're working the entire muscle. In other words, every abdominal exersize we do, whether it be lower leg lifts or decline knee bends or upper body crunches, each movement works the entire Rectus Abdominis. There is no part of the so-called upper, mid, or lower abs that can be worked individually, or any exercise that benefits any one section of the Rectus Abdominis. Just FYI…

  17. Harry Blum

    Yo what are regular sit ups saying?

  18. Stephen Orme

    Every time I do this with headphones on I switch sides for the side plank so I'm not facing my phone but I just hear him say "SQUEEZE IT!" in my ear.

  19. LegacyMeme

    If anyone starts to not feel their abs and other muscles mid workout, pause for a bit and do some ab stretches. It just means that your abs are tight from using them, and that you are working hard.

  20. Lexus Mortimer

    plank
    6 inch hold
    head up hold
    side plank
    c sit hold

  21. iecher rooks

    that was brutal!! Thank you so much!!😊

  22. iecher rooks

    that was brutal!! Thank you so much!!😊

  23. iecher rooks

    that was brutal!! Thank you so much!!😊

  24. DivineFeelings

    damn my abs got destroyed!!! thank you!

  25. shriprada deshpande

    🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥♥️♥️♥️

  26. Марс

    just tried this first time and colapsed on 40 seconds in 5th excercise! not bad i guess

  27. ItzCorn

    Am I the only one thats back hurts really badly when trying to do c sit and 6 inch hold?

  28. Jeffery Herring

    Hell yeah shoulder blades up feet up not once did I fail! Love it brother! Thank you so much!

  29. 20CS4028 Thomas Abraham C

    Despite the dramatic breathe outs at the end, this was a good workout

  30. NO MERCY

    I love this channel but I have to say, after doing this workout, I hate you. My abs are wrecked

  31. Vanquish

    I took this and adjusted it to my capabilities and after a while I was able to do each for 1 minute, still a big killer though.

  32. Ake Mii

    this a killerful workout..engaging your muscles & trying to control your breathing..burning like f***..

  33. 20CS4028 Thomas Abraham C

    Gotta admit, after being exposed to athleanx's 6-7 mins insane abs workout, comparatively this feels much easier

  34. Paarth Dewan

    Probably viewed this video
    Atleast 200 times by niw

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