Want to know how to get a six pack? We’ve said it many times before but we will ruddy well say it again: obtaining totally “shredded” abs takes dedication in the kitchen and in the gym. We’ve all got abs lurking somewhere, but bulking them up and then revealing them with a strict diet is the tricky part.
Alex Crockford (opens in new tab), fitness model, YouTube star and all-round social media workout pro, literally makes abs for a living, so knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a short, sharp workout that targets the key muscles in the abdominal region for that totally ripped six-pack look.
Nutritionally, you’ll need to be fairly committed to a diet that is low in (or free from) sugars and saturated fats. Alcohol is also best avoided if you want to get below that 10 per cent body fat threshold, but you’ll also need to ensure you are getting the required protein and nutrients to build and repair muscle after a workout.
In addition to a healthy, balanced diet, protein snacks and supplements can help squeeze in the additional nutrition that’s required, without resorting to gorging on multiple chickens every day. You can check out some of our favourite supplements and protein powders here.
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How to perform Alex Crockford’s abs workout
There is absolutely no need for specialist equipment when embarking on this workout, but for those who feel they have perhaps reached a plateau with simple bodyweight exercises, it’s a good idea to start introducing some weight after a few weeks.
This can be done with a good set of dumbbells or even a kettlebell or two, both of which can be purchased cheaply and easily. But before you do that, ensure form is perfect and take your time performing each rep. The idea here is to work the abdominal muscles, not the legs, shoulders, backs or arms that you might if you perform the move incorrectly.
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Say hello to toned abs and a flatter stomach
The number of reps and sets are listed next to each exercise, so make sure you perform that number of repetitions (reps) in a smooth and controlled manner, before enjoying 60 seconds rest and then continuing on to the next set.
3 sets of 15 reps
It’s a classic but it is also amazing how many folks still get this move wrong. Sit on the floor with legs extended out in front, a slight bend in the knee. Many people create an acute angle with the knees pointed toward the ceiling, but this shifts the focus away from the abs.
Place hands on the sides of your head (or across the chest) and slowly lift shoulders off the ground and lift the torso upright by activating your abdominal muscles. Exhale on the upward section and avoid pushing the chin forwards and overtly rounding the shoulders at the top of the move. Lower slowly down to the starting position so the back is flat on the floor once more and inhale here. Pause and start again.
3 sets of 15 reps
The abs should be firing now and this exercise will ensure they are worked even harder. Lay flat on the floor with arms fully extended behind the head and legs fully extended out front. Pull the knees in towards the torso while simultaneously bringing straight arms up and over to create a smooth semi-circle sweep, so the hands finish pointing directly ahead.
There will be a temptation to swing the arms up and over the head to finish the remaining few reps in a set, but avoid this by engaging the abs throughout and ensuring the crunch is performed only with the abdominal muscles.
3 sets of 20 reps
Once mastered, this is a great exercise to start adding some weights in the form of a kettlebell or a set of dumbbells, as this promotes the gradual overload that stimulates muscle growth and strengthening.
Adopt a sit-up position with knees slightly bent and heels on the ground. With a straight back and shoulders retracted, twist the torso to the left until the fingertips touch the ground, but ensure this twisting motion is undertaken with the abdominal muscles, rather merely rotating the shoulders (that’s cheating!). Rotate in the opposite direction and tap the floor to the right of your hips and continue this movement until you’ve reached 20 reps.
3 sets of 20 reps
Adopt a plank position and keep a straight, flat back throughout. Lift the right leg up into your chest by engaging the core. Pause at the top of the move and really squeeze the abdominal muscles.
This isn’t a race, so don’t feel the temptation to thrash out as many repetitions as you can in an allotted timeframe. Instead, pull the leg slowly towards the chest and focus on muscle control and activating the abs throughout.
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3 sets of 15 reps
The workout is almost over and this penultimate move will set up a killer finishing set in the form of the side plank dips. Lay flat on you back with soles of the feet on the floor, knees bent and heels close to your butt.
Keeping there knees slightly bent, pull both legs up towards your chest by squeezing the abdominal muscles. Pause with knees a few inches from the pecs (don’t let them rest on your chest) and lower back down in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat.
Side Plank Dips
3 sets of 10 reps each side
Set up in a standard plank position with forearms on the floor but rotate the body by lifting the opposite towards the ceiling. The feet should be extended and stacked on top of one another, with a nice straight line running from the head to the toes.
With core and glutes engaged, slowly lower the hips towards the floor, pause at the bottom and return to the top using the abdominal muscles to lift the hips back to the start position. This will require a very stable core and good balance, so take your time with the reps and on’t rush things.