Whether your goal is a six-pack or just a little more definition around your midsection, compound lifts like squats, overhead presses and deadlifts will help get you there, and they’ll build strength all over your body at the same time. That said, there’s also room for more focused abs work too, especially if you have designs on achieving a cover model-style six-pack.

The four-move circuits below provide both isolation exercises and compound moves, and the three options target different areas of your abs to ensure you’re hitting them from every angle. The first workout concentrates on your upper abs, the second focuses on the lower abs, and the final routine works the often neglected side abs – or obliques – along with your deeper core muscles.

Though each circuit works as a quick stand-alone abs blast, you can also tack them on to the end of your main training session to ensure your abs are getting the attention they merit. Each of these abs workouts is a mini-circuit you can do at the end of your main workout.

The circuits are designed to work the maximum number of muscle fibres as quickly and effectively as possible, so you’ll do all four moves in order, sticking to the reps and rest periods detailed. The first move of each circuit is the hardest, then they get progressively easier as the number of reps per move increases.

This works your abs harder and places them under greater tension for longer, which is ultimately what stimulates muscle growth. After the final move, rest for the allotted time, then repeat the circuit. Do three circuits in total.

Upper Abs Workout:

Dumbbell crunch:

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Dumbbell crunch

How to:

  • Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell or weight plate across your chest in both hands.
  • Raise your torso, then lower it, maintaining tension in your uppers abs throughout.

Related article: Can I Build Solid Muscles Using Only A Dumbbell? This Workout Will Give You Rock Hard Abs

Tuck and crunch:

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

Tuck and crunch

How to:

  • Lie down with your hands by your head and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle.
  • Simultaneously raise your torso and draw your knees towards your chest.
  • Keep your fingers by your temples throughout and initiate each rep smoothly without jerking your torso up.
  • Don’t let your feet touch the floor between reps.

Related article: Do You Want to Sharpen Your Abs & Strengthen Your Core In 15 minutes? Then This Is For You

Modified V-sit:

Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Modified V-sit

How to:

  • Lie with your legs raised off the floor and extended away from you so they’re parallel with the floor, and your arms straight by your sides, held off the floor.
  • Keep your arms straight as you raise your torso and bring your legs in, bending at the knees, so that your chest meets your knees at the top of the move.
  • Then lower under control.

Related article: Can Weights Give You Abs? See For Yourself How To Get Abs With This 7 Move Workout


Reps 20 Rest 90sec


How to:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted, and your arms crossed across your chest.
  • Raise your torso using your abs, then lower.
  • Your upper abs will already be close to fatigue but try to hold the top position of each rep for at least one second to make them work as hard as possible.

Related article: Avoid These 6 Missteps When Trying To Chisel Washboard abs

Lower Abs Workout:

Hanging leg raise:

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Hanging leg raise

How to:

  • Fair warning, this tough exercise sets the tone for what is going to be a brutal workout involving four different hanging exercises.
  • Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and your knees and ankles touching.
  • Keep them together as your use your lower abs to raise them, then lower back to the start under control.

Related article: Use These 5 Superset Moves & Achieve Ripped Abs And Shredded Obliques

Hanging knee raise twist:

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Hanging knee raise twist

How to:

  • Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and knees together.
  • Twist your body and raise your knees to one side, then return to the start.
  • Continue, alternating sides.

Related article: Try This Six-Move Workout To Add Depth And Definition To Your Abs

Hanging knee raise:

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

Hanging knee raise

How to:

  • This slightly easier variation on the hanging leg raise still puts a lot of pressure on your lower abs.
  • Start in a dead hang and raise your knees powerfully to activate more of the muscle fibres in the lower abs.
  • Lower back to the start under control to prevent swinging.

Related article: Hit Your Abs From Every Angle With These Core-Strengthening 6 Medicine Ball Exercises

Garhammer raise:

Reps 20 Rest 90sec

Garhammer raise

How to:

  • Start hanging from the bar but with your knees already raised to around your midsection, then lift them as high as you can.
  • Lower back to the start under control, keeping your abs engaged throughout.

Related article: 7 Of The Most Beneficial Core Stabilising Exercises In 1 Workout

Obliques And Core Workout:

Decline plank with foot touch:

Reps 10 each side Rest 10sec

Decline plank with foot touch

How to:

  • Get into a decline plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms with your feet raised on a bench.
  • Your body should form a straight line from heels to head and the aim is to maintain that position throughout the exercise.
  • Lift one foot off the bench and move it to the side to touch the floor, then return it to the bench.
  • Continue, alternating sides.

Related article: 5 Achievable Oblique Exercises For Core Strength & A Flat Stomach

Seated Russian twist:

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Seated Russian twist

How to:

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and heels on the ground.
  • Your torso should be at the top of the crunch position, forming a 45° angle to the ground.
  • Twist your torso from side to side, moving in a smooth and controlled manner.

Related article: 5 Core Exercises to Improve Balance And Stability For A Solid Lift

Bicycle crunches:

Reps 15 each side Rest 10sec

Bicycle crunches

How to:

  • Lie on your back with your hands by your temples and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle.
  • Bring your right knee up towards your chest while raising your torso and twisting so your left elbow comes to meet your knee.
  • Then lower and do the same on the opposite side.
  • Keep your shoulders and feet off the ground to force your abs to work hard to stabilise your torso.

Related article: 11 Core Bursting Six-Pack Abs Exercises and Workout for Men


Time Max Rest 90sec


How to:

  • Maintain a strict plank position, with your hips up, your glutes and core braced, and your head and neck relaxed.
  • Breathing slowly and deeply, hold the position for as long as possible.