Zac Efron, Mark Wahlberg and 13 Other Celebs Spill Their Ab-Sculpting Secrets

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Zac Efron at the “Baywatch” SlowMo Marathon
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From the chiseled six-pack of Sam Heughan to the tight and toned core of Julianne Hough, these Hollywood fitness buffs know a thing or two about sculpting enviable abs. With everything from Paleo meal-delivery services and vegan private chefs to the latest HIIT and SoulCycle classes at their fingertips, celebrities are expected to be red carpet-ready all the time — and that includes sporting a strong, stable and freakishly stunning core. So how do they get those amazing midsections? Here’s the low-down on how they keep chiseled year-round.

1. Sam Heughan

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“Outlander” star Sam Heughan works out like it’s a full-time job — sometimes two to three times per day! He credits trainer James White at Roark Gym for introducing him to a CrossFit-style workout that consists of a combination of deadlifts, Olympic lifts and a lot of conditioning work, reports Men’s Health South Africa.

But celebrity trainer Manning Sumner, founder of Legacy Fit, says regular guys don’t need to spend three hours a day in the gym. “It should be about training smarter, not longer,” he says. He also points out that most CrossFit workouts aren’t usually that long. “But they do require you to know how to do Olympic lifts, which usually take years to develop good form,” says Sumner. So this type of training should always be supervised, and you should take your time.

Read more: 3 Signs You’re Overexercising and 3 Ways to Avoid It

2. Elsa Pataky

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This Spanish actress, mom to three and wife to Chris Hemsworth (see the next slide for more on him), knows how to train her abs using all forms of fitness. To keep her midsection strong and chiseled, Pataky swims, practices yoga, kickboxes, rides a stationary bike and does 40-minute circuit-training sessions four days a week. But that’s not all. She also does Pilates several days a week as well as muay thai.

“When I’m in the gym, I’m fearless. A lot of women are scared to use weights and bulk up. Don’t be! Our bodies are strong, and it’s important to take advantage of that. It’s obvious that I love strength training (seriously, give it a try!), but I also incorporate yoga into my routine,” she told Good Housekeeping.

3. Chris Hemsworth

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Chris Hemsworth’s workout isn’t for your average exerciser. A grueling combination of cardio, resistance moves and ab-targeting exercises (like leg raises) keeps his six-pack solid and defined. Plus, he showed Men’s Journal some of his favorite abs moves, including resistance bear crawls and medicine-ball throws.

“If you have ever done a bear crawl, you know they are hard enough alone, even if you do not have a cool resistance band attached to you,” says celebrity trainer Manning Sumner. “The key is to keep your butt down, hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.” For beginners, get on all fours and slowly lift yourself off the ground, hold the position as long as you can and then just go back to all fours.

4. Julianne Hough

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Julianne Hough knows a thing or two about staying fit. The 29-year-old dancer, actress and singer takes her workouts seriously, and it shows. Hough wrote on her website that getting her abs in perfect shape requires her to mix things up. Though she aims to hit her abs from different angles, one of her favorite exercises is leg raises — but with an added challenge.

“I like to lay on a box during leg raises so I can really use my lower abs with each movement,” she wrote. “I also love standing exercises for abs, where I can really isolate my torso. I sometimes add hand weights to these moves in order to work my obliques too.” Try some of these standing ab exercises for yourself!

Read more: Julianne Hough’s Daily Health Habits Are Totally Doable

5. Terry Crews

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Getting abs like Terry Crews’ is no easy feat. Crews told Vanity Fair that he’s up at 4:45 a.m. and at the gym by 6:00 a.m. For the most part, he sticks to a traditional body-part split, with one day dedicated to ab training. But since he lifts heavy and runs four miles at the end of each workout, Crews ends up working his midsection every day.

Combine this with intermittent fasting and you can see how he maintains his rock-hard abs. Celebrity trainer Manning Sumner says if you’re going to try intermittent fasting, the key is to make sure you’re getting sufficient nutrients in the eight-hour window you get to eat and not just eating whatever you want. “Drink lots of water while fasting, and pay attention to how you feel. If you become light-headed or weak, then you should eat,” he says.

6. Nick Jonas Kicks Off Its “Book the U.S.” List With Nick Jonas
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When “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” hit the big screen in 2017, singer-turned-actor Nick Jonas and his abs were hard to miss in its cast of characters. The actor’s impressive midsection is the result of a series of “holistic trisets” created by his trainer, Greg Miele.

“Essentially, these are groups of three exercises, back-to-back, that stress the same body part or movement pattern with a variety of intensities, loads and tempos,” Miele told Muscle and Fitness. And, of course, mixed in with the trisets are exercises for his core like the barbell rollout, Swiss ball leg curl and Swiss ball crunch. One thing to note: Jonas has Type 1 diabetes. So being healthy is definitely more about a lifestyle than it is about looking good (though it certainly doesn’t hurt).

7. Megan Fox

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There are a ton of celebs with tight physiques and toned abs. But to also be a mom and have a killer midsection? Now that’s impressive! “Transformer” actress Megan Fox works with trainer Harley Pasternak to stay in shape 365 days a year. Pasternak told Health that Fox relies on hip thrusts to get her abs in shape, especially after giving birth.

In addition to challenging your abs, hip thrusts also works your glutes, hip extensors and hamstrings and can be modified for beginner to advanced fitness levels. Grab a barbell, lean against a weight bench and place the weight across your hips. Then press into your feet and back to raise your hips until parallel to your knees. Just be sure to keep your core engaged to prevent your lower back from arching.

8. Cher

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If you’re wondering how this 71-year-old superstar stays fit, you’re not alone. The secret to Cher’s physique comes not only from her commitment to exercising every single day, but also from her ability to hold a plank for up to five minutes! At least that’s what she told the audience at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017.

But you can still get a fantastic workout for your core by planking for 30 seconds each day. In fact, Melody Ward, senior master trainer at Club Pilates, says shorter plank holds performed more frequently can actually achieve the same benefit. And research from Stuart McGill, emeritus professor of spine biometrics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, backs her up. Ward recommends starting with 10-second holds five to 10 times per day.

Read more: 11 Plank Variations for Rock-Solid Abs

9 and 10. Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos

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If you think you’re ready to try yoga and acrobatics at the same time, you might want to check out a few of these poses from Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos. AcroYoga uses your entire body in varying planes of motions and points of balance. In other words, it challenges the heck out of your core.

“But let’s be honest, we aren’t all lucky enough to have the perfect AcroYoga partner for a spouse,” says master trainer Melody Ward. So start with some solo yoga and Pilates moves that focus on balance. Try this: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and abs drawn in. Bend both knees into a squat, and as you stand up, use your core to stabilize as you lift one knee up toward your chest and balance. Repeat on the other side. Try 10 reps, ending with a 10-second balance on each leg.

11. Meghan Markle

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The entire world now knows her as the wife of Prince Henry. But Megan Markle has also become known for her svelte physique and grueling Pilates workouts. According to Harper's Bazaar, Markle credits Pilates Platinum, a class taught on a Megaformer machine, for her amazing abs. The class is tough, but it’s said to torch 800 to 1,000 calories and tone your abs in a single one-hour class.

But it may not be a realistic option for the average fitness enthusiast. If you’re not ready to hit the Megaformer, master trainer Melody Ward says you can start with a Level 1 Reformer Pilates class or even a mat Pilates class. “You’ll get the same core-training benefits that Pilates is known for, but in a lower-impact environment.”

Read more: Want Meghan Markle’s Princess Bod? Do Her Workouts

12. Tracy Anderson

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She’s famous for sculpting many of the fittest bodies in Hollywood, including Gwyneth Paltrow and J.Lo, but how does this top trainer tone her own abs? Anderson is known for her unique moves, and training her core is no different. She relies on plank variations, arabesques and crab-jump exercises paired with cardio to shape and strengthen her core.

Anderson told Health magazine that you have to hit the ab muscles from every angle. “It’s not just about the front of the abs, the rectus abdominis,” she told Health. “You have to also get the obliques, the transverse abdominis — which act as a girdle — and the lower-back muscles working together.” Try these ab exercises that won’t even feel like an ab workout.

13. Kim Kardashian

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She may be known for her derriere, but Kim Kardashian also has a pretty phenomenal midsection. When she isn’t hitting it hard in the gym or doing interval sprints up steep hills, some of her favorite ab-sculpting moves she performs with her trainer, Melissa Alcantara, include pike-ups, bear crawls, leg lifts, ab rollers and kneeling rope crunches.

But these moves might not be for everyone. “Let’s make your bear crawl a cub crawl and start small,” says master trainer Melody Ward. Start on all fours. Hover your knees over the ground and crawl forward a few feet and then back to your starting position. Next, swap the pike-ups for a seated roll-down, which will build control in your core. You can progress your roll-down into a Pilates teaser, which will be easier on the lower back.

Read more: 12 Kardashian Wellness Tips You Can Actually Afford

14. Zac Efron

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When you spend all day shooting scenes in nothing but swim trunks (like Zac Efron did for “Baywatch”), your abs better be rock-hard solid. By the looks of it, Zac Efron has no problem keeping fit for any role.

According to Muscle and Fitness, Efron’s trainer Patrick Murphy says the actor focuses on supersets for his main body parts and throws in abs between each set. For instance, back and biceps one day, legs another and shoulders, chest and arms the third day. Even though the major muscle groups are broken up into a traditional three-day body-part split, Efron sneaks ab exercises like ab rollouts, mountain climbers on sliders and Swiss-ball hip extension in almost daily, and it shows.

15. Mark Wahlberg

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You can’t talk about amazing celebrity abs without mentioning the King of Abs himself, Mark Wahlberg. The ageless actor has been sporting one of the hottest midsections in Hollywood for more than 20 years. That’s probably because he never takes a break from his workouts. Case in point: Men’s Health posted a video of the 46-year-old actor working his abs even while on vacation.

While most people just use a stability ball to do basic crunches, Wahlberg takes it one step further by performing crunches while one-hand-palming a medicine ball back to a trainer. Just watching it makes our abs sore! But like he says on his Instagram account, “I’m on vacation with my family, but I still have to keep up my training.” When it comes to your abs, though, feel free to take a rest day (or two or three) every now and again.

Read more: Mark Wahlberg Is Cutting to 6 Percent Body Fat — Here’s How

What Do YOU Think?

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Who’s your favorite celebrity on the list? Are there any others out there with amazing abs that we missed? Tell us in the comments below! And also be sure to share your own favorite ab-sculpting exercises!

What Is the Victoria's Secret Workout Routine?

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From the chiseled six-pack of Sam Heughan to the tight and toned core of Julianne Hough, these Hollywood fitness buffs know a thing or two about sculpting enviable abs. With everything from Paleo meal-delivery services and vegan private chefs to the latest HIIT and SoulCycle classes at their fingertips, celebrities are expected to be red carpet-ready all the time — and that includes sporting a strong, stable and freakishly stunning core. So how do they get those amazing midsections? Here’s the low-down on how they keep chiseled year-round.


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