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6 Moves for 6-Pack Abs from Personal Trainers

Newsflash: Doing crunches isn't the secret to getting six-pack abs.

If you want a lean, flaunt-worthy stomach, you need to eat a six-pack friendly diet and perform exercises that not only engage the core, but also challenge your entire body from head to toe. These kinds of exercises boost your calorie burn at the gym and help you build lean muscle, which boosts your resting metabolism–helping you get that lean look you crave.

Since crunches are out, you're likely wondering what you should do instead. Don't fret, we've got you covered. The exercises below all work your entire bod and have the stamp of approval from some of the nation's top trainers. Better yet, none of them are overly complex, so they're easy to add into your existing routine. When combined with smart eating and an overall active, healthy lifestyle, these exercises can help you sculpt abs you've always wanted–by summer!

Monkey Squat

Three sets of 20

Why It Works

"I love this exercise because it not only activates the lower abs and obliques, but also works the arms, legs and raises the heart rate, which helps blast fat," explains Kit Rich, celebrity trainer and co-owner of SHIFT by Dana Perri in California.

How To Do It

Step 1: Start in a plank position on your hands. Hands should be shoulder width apart.

Step 2: Then, jump your feet forward and to the outside of your hands, ending in a low squat position, keeping your butt down as much as possible.

Step 3: Push into your hands and jump your legs back into the starting plank position.

Step 4: Repeat.

Training Tip

Do this exercise as fast as you can while still maintaining proper form and control. Remember to keep your butt low in a proper plank position.

TRX Pike

Three sets of 12

Why It Works

"My favorite core exercise is the TRX Pike," says Mr. Ray, Founder & Chief Fitness Strategist of FIT RxN in New York City. "This one amazing move works the entire core from all angles —front, back and sides—so you'll get a 6-pack and then some. You'll feel that burn in your core right away."

How To Do It

Step 1: Put your toes in your TRX straps and get into a plank position.

Step 2: Keeping your legs straight and your core tight, lift your hips up until your body looks like an inverted V. Try to get your hips over your shoulders.

Step 3: Keep your legs straight to lower back down to the starting plank position.

Step 4: Repeat.

Training Tip

"No TRX? No problem," says Ray. "Put a towel under your feet to help them slide and do the same move."

Feet Incline Crunch and Punch

Two sets of 20 (10 on each side)

Why It Works

"I love this exercise because it's one you can do anywhere," says Jess Horton, ACE Certified Personal Trainer at Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. "A weight bench works great if you're at the gym, but a chair works just as well if you're fitting in a workout elsewhere."

How To Do It

Step 1: Lay with your back flat on the floor with your feet on a bench or stable chair about hip width apart, toes pointing up.

Step 2: As you crunch up towards your feet, rotate your torso to the left and throw a right punch toward your left leg.

Step 3: Return to the starting position and then switch sides, so your rotating your torso to the right and throwing a left punch toward your right leg. Return to the starting position and repeat this pattern until you hit 20.

Cable Rotation

Three sets of 10 on each side

Why It Works

"The cable rotation is a great move for developing the obliques," explains fitness expert, author and physique model, Justin Woltering. "It also increases the strength and power in the core, which not only has aesthetic benefits but can also improve posture and ward off back pain."

How To Do It

Step 1: Stand off to the side of the cable with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Step 2: With your arms fully extended, hold the cable handle out in front of your body at rib-cage level and brace your torso.

Step 3: Rotate rotate your torso away from the cable (without moving your hips) until you feel a stretch on the opposite side. Hold this end position briefly then return to the starting position.

Step 4: Repeat for a total of 10 reps and then switch sides.


Three sets of 15 – 20

Why It Works

"Though you may think pushups work mostly your arms, when done properly they actually work your full body and are one of the very best ways to target your external obliques," says Annie Mulgrew, Director of Programming at City Row in New York City.

How To Do It

Step 1: Assume a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers facing forward or slightly inward.

Step 2: Lower yourself downward until your chest almost touches the floor.

Step 3: Press your upper body back up to the starting position and pause briefly.

Step 4: Repeat.

Training Tip

If performing a push-up on your toes is too challenging, drop to your knees and perform the exercise that way. If you need more of a challenge, Mulgrew suggests doing a spiderman pushup. "As you lower your body toward the floor in the standard push-up position, lift your right foot off the floor, and bring your knee to the side of your body toward your elbow. Reverse the movement, to return to the starting position and then repeat on the opposite side."

Standing Crunch and Tuck

Two sets of 10 – 20 on each side

Why It Works

"The standing crunch and tuck works multiple body parts and sneaks in some cardio, as well, which I'm a big fan of," says Horton. "This exercise is good for all levels, but it's especially great for those who find it challenging to get up and down from the floor."

How To Do It

Step 1: Start standing with feet hip width apart. Then, move your right leg out to the side, slightly behind you.

Step 2: Place your right hand on your hip and extend your left hand above you.

Step 3: At the same time, bring your left elbow and right knee to a meeting in the middle of your body and slightly crunch into it. Finish each rep by returning to the starting position.

Step 4: Repeat for a total of 20 reps and then switch to the right side.

Training Tip

For an added challenge, Horton suggests holding a 5 pound dumbbell in the hand that's extended above your head, as she demonstrates in the GIF above.

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Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh