If you’re part of the 99% of people for whom gym time is scarce, you may want to rethink the way you train your abs. Instead of devoting one workout a week to your midsection, or tacking an extra abs circuit on to the end of a session, simply incorporate these moves into your weekly training regime.
Each one is a compound move that works multiple muscle groups while providing a serious challenge to your abs, core and lower back. And because they’re compound moves they burn more calories than conventional abs exercises. The result: you save time, lose your gut and gain a six-pack.
Smart Six-Pack Swaps
1. Swap Seated Overhead Presses For Military Presses
“Pressing a heavy weight over your head gets your abs all fired up in order to stabilise and protect your spine,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “For best results, do the military version where you keep your feet together.” Brace your core and squeeze your glutes before you lift to give yourself the most stable base possible, and aim to do five sets of ten reps once a week.
2. Swap Rows For Renegade Rows
Get into a press-up position on two kettlebells or dumbbells. Row one up to your armpit, then the other. “Don’t try to use your usual row weight,” says Results Inc founder Joe Lightfoot. “Imagine there’s a marble on your back that you’re trying to stop from rolling off. Challenge yourself by slowly bringing your feet narrower and narrower.” If you can do eight each side in a set, that’s solid.
3. Swap Bench Presses For One-Arm Presses
The barbell bench press may feel satisfying and up your bro credentials, but there’s a lot to be said for using dumbbells instead or – even more resourcefully – just one dumbbell. “If you’ve never pressed unilaterally, you’re in for a shock,” says Lightfoot. “Just keeping yourself stable on the bench puts a huge demand on your core.” Do sets of six for a combination of strength and size.
4. Swap Kettlebell Swings For One-Arm Swings
“Just picking up a kettlebell from the floor with one hand – known as a suitcase deadlift – will create tension through your abs, so swinging one will take your training to the next level,” says W10 Performance trainer Olli Foxley. “Your abs work overtime to ensure that you aren’t being pulled in the wrong direction.” You’ll also burn fat, improving the chances of actually seeing your abs.
5. Swap Squats For Double Kettlebell Rack Squats
“It doesn’t matter what type of weight you use – having it in front of you as you squat will provide a huge challenge for your abs,” says Foxley. “Your core is fighting to keep your body upright and the weight on your shoulders. Add in the challenge of squatting and you will feel the burn in your abs after just a few reps.” Superset them with farmer’s walks for a nasty fat-burner.
Photography: Glen Burrows; Model: Tirrel Grant