The Best Exercise For Six Pack Abs


One of the cool things about being in the business group I’m in is that I get to meet some of the best trainers in the country, pick their brains, and then share that info with you guys. Today I’ve got a guest post from one of these superstar trainers – Joe Carabase. When it comes to getting lean, building an awesome physique, AND being able to do some impressive stuff, Joe’s got it down.

So here’s how Joe sees exercising for a USEFUL set of six-pack abs.

The Best Exercise For Six Pack Abs

By Joe Carabase,

I get asked often; “what’s the best way to get six pack abs?” My answer is always the same:

“Do not focus on just your abs, train your ass off and eat right 80% of the time”

It truly is as simple as that…but I see how that answer can be frustrating to hear, as it’s pretty general. Therefore today I wanted to give you guys the best exercise to do to get 6 pack abs and leave your with some nutrition tips to get you started.

Lets get started by breaking down the first part of my answer referring to not isolating just your abs. You can do sit ups or crunches for hours every day but it will not translate into six pack abs unless your body fat is low enough. And if your body fat is low enough, at that volume its likely you will have developed spinal or low back issues. The abdominals are meant to stabilize and protect, not crunch forward.

As of late planks or pillars (or whatever you wish to refer to them as) are wildly touted as the new way to work your core. While I do agree that planks are a great stability based exercise, there is limited fat burning potential.

If you are doing bodyweight training, Olympic and Strong Man Lifts, you will build enough anterior core muscle. Your focus should then be on burning enough body fat to shed the excess skin over your stomach.

The best ways to burn body fat are:
-High Intensity workouts
-Multi joint movements
-High lean muscle percentage

These things combined will elevate your resting metabolic rate, helping you burn calories at rest.

So if planks don’t have enough fat burn potential, what is the best exercise?

The Front Squat

1. In addition to the movement taxing the entire lower extremity, your core (from torso to shoulder blades) must be activated during the entire lift. The activation occurs naturally as its your body’s protected mechanism to prevent you from falling forward. When you activate your core, you fire your entire abs complex and require those muscles to work. So you’re not only building muscle in your midsection, you are burning more overall calories.

2. You will build leg size. One of my ultimate goals for my training and for that of my clients is total symmetry from head to toe. Guys with wheel barrel upper body but scrawny legs are laughable. As the leg extension is a “sexy” leg exercise because its easy to do, you isolate a very small part of your quad head and it’s an unnatural movement. Where as the squat is a movement you do all day…loading the front is just an added bonus to work your core, which is also used all day.

Just as the forearms are the key to building huge arms, the quads are key to massive legs. If there is no separation from your quads to your calves, it doesn’t matter how defined your calves are you will look like a jacked woman.

Yet again the Front Squat is an advantageous exercise to work a ton of muscles, not just an isolated area like the leg extension.

Aside from symmetry, one thing that is always overlooked is the amount of muscles in the lower extremity…that is far greater then the upper body. The more muscle density you have, the less body fat you will have.

How to perform the Front Squat:
*****Isaac Note: You’ll see here that Joe shows the “cross-grip” style of front squatting. I often advocate a “clean grip”. Both are fine, depending on your mobility and goals.*****

Let’s recap:
There is not any isolated abs exercise that is worth doing to define your mid section, rather it’s the percentage body fat you hold. Even though the plank is a good core exercise, it’s limiting in the fat burning potential category. Part of a low body fat percentage is not only how you train, it’s the way you eat.

If you are looking for the “best” abs exercise, it is the Front Squat so make sure it frequents your routine week to week. If you currently aren’t front squatting, you should be starting with just the bar – 45 lbs. I don’t care how heavy your back squat is, you need to start low to build yourself up with the front squat.

Stop spending time on abs specific exercises and even just stability exercises, focus on lifts where you stabilize as you are performing a movement.

As for the nutrition side, there’s no way around it. As promised, here are 3 tips to get you started:

1. Stop eating / drinking like a young boy:

-Skipping Breakfast
-Using Ketchup
-Putting cream / sugar in your coffee
-Drinking power aid casually or with a meal
-Eating fast food frequently
-Not eating fresh fruit and veggies
-Relaying on other people (parents, girlfriend / wife and restaurants) to cook for you

You have gotta man up to get ripped up. When you are in high school or even college you might be able to get away with these things, but as you age your metabolism and hormones change for the worse if you do not take control of the situation.

2. Stay away from gluten and traditional carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice outside your cheat meal. Focus on fibrous carbohydrates like vegetables and fruit.

We will discuss the negative side effects from ingesting gluten but it has been shown that many people are allergic and intolerant to gluten. If you are allergic to gluten and are still consuming products with gluten, you should stop immediately. Allergic reactions to gluten are similar to symptoms of MS.

Some symptoms of Gluten Intolerance are constipation, digestive problems, bloating, and even the pouch around your abs.

3. Always keep moving forward: If you accidentally eat something bad, immediately forget it and get back on track. I have seen so many people do remarkably well, then something happens unexpected and they completely give up their focus on their fitness and nutrition.


Joe practicing what he preaches!

Joe Carabase

Joe Carabase is the founder of M.E.L.T. Fitness Studio and Joe co-authored international best selling book “Total Body Breakthroughs” and was recognized by USA Today as One of the World’s Fitness Elite in 2011.

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