I believe weighted ab exercises are a must for visible six-pack abs. Here I am around 12% body-fat and I still have visible abs. The reason? Weighted Ab Training!
The truth is that most guys don’t put much emphasis on training their abs with resistance, and struggle to get their abs to pop.
The fact is your abs are a muscle and you should train them with weights just like you would your biceps.
There is an old school thought that you don’t need to train abs directly to achieve an eye-popping visible six-pack and that you just need to get lean enough where you don’t have a layer of fat covering them. After all, Abs are made in the kitchen, right?
While you certainly have to be fairly lean to see ripped abs, I’ve been able to get my abs to pop a lot more even at 12-13% body-fat this past year because I have incorporated the best weighted ab exercises into my training, and built my abs up a lot more because of it.
Weighted Ab Training Tip: Timing Is Everything
I like to incorporate something called “activation before overload” in my weighted ab training. This will help you get the most out of every set of your ab training.
This means that I will perform a few bodyweight ab exercises for high reps to fire up my abdominals and go into the weight ab movements with a great mind-muscle connection.
One of my favorite pre-fatigue ab exercises is the hanging knee raise (beginner) and hanging leg raise (advanced).
I’ll do this before performing 2-3 weighted ab exercises, which you will see the full list of below.
Try this exercise and go for 15 total reps or about 30 seconds time under tension.
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Pre fatigue ab exercise: Hanging Leg Raise
Now that we know how to pre-activate your abs let’s dive into the best time to actually train them, a common misconception.
Why I Train My Abs More When Bulking
The best time to build your abs is actually when you are lean bulking as the calorie surplus will help you grow your abs.
If you are preparing a lean bulk like myself soon I recommend that you train your abs with this complete weighted abs workout I’m about to show you 2-3 times per week.
The best surplus to maintain visible abs but give your body enough macros to actually build the muscle is around a 500 calorie surplus. If you need help setting up your diet head on over to our nutrition page next.
The Best Weighted Ab Workout
Exercise 1/6 – Barbell Floor Wipers
The barbell floor wipers is an exercise that I like to incorporate to hit my obliques as well as the main part of the six-pack muscle – the rectus abdominis.
This is a unique movement and involves a good deal of balancing your entire body with your core. It’s really important to perform dynamic ab exercises as well as traditional ones.
You will start off holding a barbell directly over your chest as if you were setting up to bench press. There is no need to load the bar with a lot of weight. The weight is just being used to give your upper body a foundation. I will simply put a 25 lb. or 45 lb on each side of the bar.
Next, you will bring your feet towards the bar without moving your upper body at all. You will be moving your legs with your lower abs and six-pack muscles. To engage your obliques you will twist them to the right or left alternating direction each rep. Check out the video below to see how to do this exercise perfectly.
Exercise 2/6 – Russian Twist
The Russian twist is one of the best direct activators of the six-pack muscles and the obliques at the same time. If you aren’t doing this move you are seriously missing out on aesthetics.
This is one of those exercises where you want to focus on time under tension and not so much on reps. I like to set a timer and go for 30-40 seconds time under tension on this movement.
The biggest mistake I see guys make on this move is resting their feet on the ground or lifting them too high. You want your feet just off the ground but not helping so all the overload is placed on the abs. Check out the video below to see how to do perfect form in 60 seconds on this move.
Exercise 3/6 – Rope Crunch (Side to Side)
The rope crunch is one of the most popular weighted ab exercises, and for good reason. It’s one of those moves that will really nail away at those six-pack muscles. This is a modifier of the rope crunch exercise that will also engage your obliques.
Aim to go high rep on this and get a full range of motion on every single rep. This means on the eccentric portion of every single rep you should focus on going back to the starting position slow and controlled and getting a nice stretch at the top.
Then you will initiate the contraction with your ab muscles and focus on not using surrounding muscle groups and especially your arms to pull the rope down.
The only difference between this exercise and a traditional rope crunch is that you will be tapping the opposite elbow on the ground every other rep. Aim to go for 10 reps on each side and really focusing on that activation instead of pulling the weight with your arms.
Check out the video below to see a perfect form in action.
Exercise 4/6 – Single Arm Decline Crunch
The single-arm decline crunch is a great move to put direct activation on the abdominals and obliques. This is one of the hardest weighted ab exercises that will help you carve out fish gill obliques and rock-solid abs.
Aim to go for 12-15 reps on each side. It’s important to remember to hold the weight directly over your head and not to use momentum to lift the weight straight up. Watch the video below so you can see how to do a perfect set.
Remember, don’t ego lift on this movement. You want to focus on contractions and going nice and light so you aren’t using surrounding muscle groups to lift your upper body.
If you want to see the other 2 weighted ab exercises and 3 pre-activation exercises check out the YouTube video on the channel!
Putting It All Together – The Ultimate Weighted Ab Workout
For the fastest results, I recommend that you do a Balloon Method weighted ab workout. Here is an example of a complete ab workout using the pre-activation technique and a few of the best weighted ab exercises from this article.
Now you have all the tools you need to build visible six-pack abs.
3 Big Takeaways From The Article
- Always remember that you should prioritize training your abs when you are in a calorie surplus. Your abs are a muscle and this is when they will grow.
- If you have trouble feeling a strong abdominal contraction on weighted ab movements try doing a bodyweight movement before in a higher rep range to essentially get a pump in your abs.
- Train your abs 2-3x per week with a quick 5-10 minute workout similar to above for the fastest results.
If you enjoyed this article make sure you follow me on Instagram @TroyShred where I post other useful content and if you want more ab workouts head on over to this page next, which goes over more ab workouts for visible abs!
Research Studies used to compile this content:
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
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