The Five Best Exercises for Washboard Abs


The term six pack is a broad term and encompasses a rather accommodating level of abs development. If you’re fine settling for abs that show nicely with great lightening and a forced flex then skip away.

But if you want those v line abs that stand out no matter what – I’m talking abs that are so well developed, you can practically make out a six pack through your shirt – then this post is for you!

I call them ‘etched out abs’ and the key to getting them is to get very strong at the following five exercises.

Keep in mind, you have to already be lean for this to work. How lean is lean enough? Around 7-11% body fat. If you’re in that range then these movements will work their magic…

1. Hanging Leg Raises

My go to abs exercise. When you work up to doing sets of hanging leg raises with straight legs, controlled form and a full range of motion, your abs will be very well developed and strong. Make sure to keep your abs constantly engaged by not going all the way down. This is very important.

I also make sure to go well above parallel, but I don’t bring my feet all the way up to the bar. Once you start to pull with your lats, you’re taking tension off your abs and placing it onto your back. You want to keep your body upright and avoid leaning back. If this exercise is too challenging start with the legs bent version.

2. Dip Bar Leg Raises

Dip bar leg raises are similar to hanging leg raises, except it’s a slightly different stimulus. Due to the nature of the movement, it’s a lot harder at the top portion of the lift. Dip bar leg raises are a wicked movement to really engage your entire abdominals. There’s really no need to do crunches or sit up movements. These exercises don’t even come close to the strength and muscle that gymnastic style leg raises build.

When you do leg raises properly, with a full range of motion, you will be strengthening the entire abdominal region, top to bottom. Interestingly enough, most people are extremely weak at these types of movements. By progressing on them, you will be able to build awesome core strength and your abs development will reach a whole other level that crunches or sit ups could never accomplish.

3. Abs Wheel Roll outs

It’s not enough to just do advanced leg raises, we also need to build the deep, inner abdominals known as the TVA. Get strong at this exercise and you will injury proof your body, greatly improve core strength, core stability and functionality, as well, you will support a rigid and compact midsection. These isometric style abs movements where the spine stays in one place, also promote great muscle tone.

4. Renegade Rows

Renegade rows are the best exercise for oblique stability. This type of anti rotational strength that renegade rows build is incredibly applicable to throwing a punch. A punch isn’t just in the arm, it’s in the entire body and most of the power is transferred through the hips and core.

By building strength on this movement you’ll have way more core and rotational power to utilize in sport like movements and punches. Renegade rows also build the TVA and promote a rigid tight core. On top of that, this exercise is very useful at building the core stability for the one arm push up.

5. Side to Side Bent Knee ups 

Side to side bent knee ups are my go to exercise for bringing up my V cut. You’re going to really work those lower abs and get an absolutely killer burn. I like to do these for very high reps with short rest periods. Aim to perform about 10-20 reps per side on these.

I like to do these rest pause. My first set I go for 10-20 reps per side, followed by mini sets of 3-6 reps per side with only 15-20 seconds rest in between. Aim for one high rep activation set plus 4 mini sets with minimal rest (15-20 seconds tops). Once you start doing rest pause side to side bent knee ups regularly, you will be blown away at your abs progress.

These exercises are everything you need to develop an amazing six pack… But if you want to learn how to take your ab development to the next level, you have to focus on building up the v line muscle, which is a true sign of elite ab and core development. There are certain v line exercises that target this muscle and really help it develop. But first, I would focus on getting really strong on the exercises in this article and then transition into working on your v line muscle.

Finish off with some Bridging

To promote healthy posture and a injury free back, always finish off with some hip or back bridging. These movements ale encourage great spinal alignment. I recommend doing about 2 sets of a hip/back bridge hold. For the hip bridge do 2 x 30 second holds. If you can do a back bridge aim for 2 x 15 second holds.

If you want a full abs workout routine, be sure to check out my Cardio Abs and Mobility routine which breaks down exactly how you can enhance you fat loss efforts while building an amazing set of abs in the most simple and effective way possible.