Men tend to want a stronger, more chiseled set of abs. In order to achieve this look, men should use some form of resistance to maximally stimulate their abdominal muscles, whether that be from a cable machine, dumbbell, or kettlebell.
If you spend time in the gym working your lower body and upper body muscles with weight, why not use weight for your ab exercises as well? Not only will it help grow and define your ab muscles, it will make you stronger overall.
According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, men tend to gain more fat around their midsection as they age, which means that you might want to pay some extra attention to this area in your workouts.
In order to sufficiently stimulate your abs to get a stronger, more defined look, here are four ab exercises that allow you to add weight and push yourself to the limit.
1. Cable Crunch
HOW TO DO IT: Set the cable so that it is about a foot off of the ground. The rope cable attachment is best for this exercise, but you can use anything that allows you to grip with two hands. Lie down in front of a cable machine, with your head toward the machine.
Reach behind your head and grab the cable handles with both hands. Pull the cable down so that your arms are pointed straight up towards the ceiling. Raise your knees up so that they are facing the ceiling and your the bend is at 90 degrees.
Pull the cable down towards your feet by crunching your shoulders up off of the mat. As you crunch up, breathe out forcefully and pull your arms down. Make sure that you aren't simply moving your arms back and forth, you should be moving the cable by crunching your shoulders up.
2. Kettlebell Reverse Crunch
This is quite possibly the best exercise for creating the "v-taper" at the bottom of your abs because it works your obliques on the side of your torso and lower abs.
HOW TO DO IT: Put a kettlebell down on the ground and lay on your back just in front of it. The kettlebell should be about a foot behind your head. Grab it by the handles and raise your legs in the air with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
Keeping your arms straight, lift the kettlebell about 6 inches off the ground so that it is in the air behind your head. Hold it there and press your lower back down into the ground as hard as you can. You should feel your abs start to work. If you don't, exhale as hard as you can to further activate your abs.
Slowly roll your butt up off of the ground by pushing your lower back into the ground. This is a small movement. Your butt should only move two or three inches off of the ground before you slowly lower it back down. Make sure that your arms stay in the same place the entire time.
Don't swing your legs backwards to roll your butt up. Make sure that your legs remain completely still. They should only move a few inches total during this exercise.
3. Ab Wheel Rollout
Lucas Dunham, an EXOS performance specialist, says that one of his favorite exercises for men is the ab wheel rollout. According to Dunham, "this exercise not only destroys the abs but creates strength that carries over into exercises like pullups."
HOW TO DO IT: Grab an ab wheel — a piece of gym equipment which is essentially a small wheel with a handle through the middle — and place it on the floor. Kneel in front of the ab wheel and put your hands on the handle.
Roll forwards with the ab wheel until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Make sure that your elbows are straight and the ab roller is directly under your shoulders.
Continue to roll your arms out until they are over your head. Go as far as you can while still maintaining control. Pull your arms down and roll back up until the ab roller is under your shoulders once again. Repeat this as many times as possible with a maximum of 20 reps in one set.
Make sure that you are using a soft surface to kneel on. If you're on a hardwood floor and don't have a fitness mat, kneel on a towel or pillow.
4. Quarter Get-Up
This exercise is an abbreviated version of the Turkish Get-Up, a classic strength exercise that was developed by the Turkish national wrestling team over 200 years ago, according to an article in the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training. This exercise has stood the test of time because it works your abs from all angles and allows you to build some serious rotational strength.
HOW TO DO IT: Grab a kettlebell and lie on your back. Hold the bell up towards the ceiling in your left hand with the ball on the outside of your wrist. Your hand should be directly in line with your shoulder. Plant your left foot close to your butt and extend your right leg straight on the ground, slightly to the right of your body. Your right arm should be on the ground pointed straight out to the side.
Reach your left arm up towards the sky. At the same time drive your right elbow into the ground as hard as you can. Keep reaching up as far as you can with the left arm. This is a twisting motion with your shoulders; your right elbow never leaves the ground. Keep your left arm pointed directly towards the ceiling the entire time. At the top your shoulders should be off the ground as you face to the right.
Slowly lower back down to the ground until you are flat on your back. Do five reps with the kettlebell in the left hand and then five in the right hand. When you perform this exercise with the bell in your right hand remember to straighten out your left leg and bend your right knee.