The Best 6 Core Exercises For Men: Total Ab Workouts For Men Guide

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It’s pretty undeniable that core exercises should be included in your workout routine. 

Having strong abs not only helps you look great and feel great about your body from a self-esteem perspective, but strong core muscles are also crucial for proper posture, supporting your spine, improving athletic performance and functional ability, and reducing the risk of injuries.

But, what are the best core exercises for men? What are the best ab workouts for men?

In this article, we will show you how to structure effective ab workouts to get strong and chiseled abs and give you step-by-step instructions for the following core exercises for men:

A man doing hanging leg raises.

What Are the Benefits of Ab Workouts for Men?

Regardless of your gender identity, there are many benefits of doing ab workouts and incorporating core exercises into your workout routine.

Having a strong core is crucial for helping maintain proper spinal alignment and posture during athletic activities as well as activities of daily life such as sitting, walking, sleeping, driving, lifting your children or groceries, and picking up boxes.

Studies have found that runners who perform core workouts to strengthen their deep core muscles are able to alleviate low back pain.

Performing core exercises is especially important for men who lift heavy weights or perform other types of exercise, such as running, cycling, rowing, and swimming. 

A strong core helps you transfer motion from the upper body to the lower body because the core connects your extremities to one another. It is also vital to have a strong and stable core so that your legs and arms have a solid foundation of support upon which they can move.

A pair of dumbbells on an exercise mat.

For example, if you are squatting or deadlifting, you want to have strong abs and a strong core to help keep your upper body stable and your spine in a healthy position while you load your body with heavy weights.

If you are running, having a strong core will minimize the amount of twisting of your hips in the transverse plane to promote better running economy for faster running speeds.

Studies have also found that core exercises for men can help improve posture and balance during both athletic and everyday life activities.

Another research study found that athletes who incorporated a routine of 13 core exercises into their fitness plan three times per week for eight weeks saw a significant increase in explosive power and agility.

There isn’t a definitive list of the best core exercises for men. 

Core workouts need to be more than just ab workouts in that the “core“ refers to a much more global group of muscles than just the abdominals or the “six pack“ muscles that seem to get the lion‘s share of attention in most ab workouts for men.

A man's chiseled six-pack abs.

The core includes the following muscles:

  • Diaphragm
  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Rectus abdominis (“six-pack” muscles down the center of your abdomen) 
  • Internal and external obliques (muscles on the sides of your torso)
  • Transverse abdominis (a deep core muscle that wraps around your abs)
  • Erector spinae (spinal extensors)
  • Psoas major and minor (hip flexors)

Therefore, the best core workout routines for men include various exercises that target the core as a unit to build functional strength with all of the core muscles working together, as well as isolated core exercises that target the specific abdominal, lower back, or deep core muscles.

A man doing a plank on the beach.

It’s good to have a mix of core exercises that can be considered isolation exercises for individual muscles in the core, as well as core exercises that utilize the core as a whole.

From a functional standpoint, the core exercises for men that use all of the core muscles working together are ideal because during exercise, as well as during everyday life activities, the core indeed works as a whole.

However, if you have relative deficits in the strength of individual core muscles, the entire functional performance of your core can be compromised, and certain core muscles can compensate or dominate weaker core muscles

Additionally, single-muscle group-focused core exercises can help develop a stronger mind-body connection and neuromuscular recruitment patterns for the muscle so that when your core is indeed functioning as a unit, all of the muscles of the core are properly being recruited because your brain has learned how to activate and use them.

The 6 Best Core Exercises For Men

Here are some of the best core exercises for men:

#1: Ab Wheel Roll Outs

This core exercise works your abs, glutes, hip flexors, and back muscles. 

Here are the steps for this ab exercise:

  1. Kneel on the floor, gripping an ab wheel or barbell with small weight plates resting on the floor.
  2. Roll the wheel forward, hinging at your hips to drop your hips and torso down. 
  3. Bring your arms as far forward as possible without falling flat on your stomach. Keep your core and glutes tight to keep your torso from dropping to the floor.
  4. When you’ve rolled your hands out in front of your head and body, use your abs to draw the wheel and your torso back in and up to the starting position, keeping your back straight.
  5. Complete 10-15 reps.

#2: Stability Ball Circles

This ab exercise targets your superficial and deep core muscles. It especially activates the obliques for stability. 

To perform this ab exercise:

  1. Get in a forearm plank position with your forearms on a stability ball instead of the floor. Make sure to keep your hips up and glutes engaged. Your whole body should be in a straight line from the top of your head to your feet.
  2. Dig your elbows into the ball, and make small clockwise circles for 30 seconds.
  3. Then, do 30 seconds in the counterclockwise direction.

#3: Thoracic Rotations

This is a great functional core exercise that also mobilizes your spine while improving balance and core stability.

Here are the steps for this core exercise:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your hands gripping hex dumbbells. Keep your core tight and glutes engaged and your weight concentrated in your right hand. 
  2. Lift your left hand off the ground, rotating your spine and pivoting your feet somewhat so that your torso is facing the left wall and your left arm is pointing the weight up towards the ceiling. Your upper body should look like the letter T.
  3. Slowly return to the push-up position.
  4. Switch sides and complete 12-15 reps per side.

#4: Single-Leg Pallof Presses

This is a great anti-rotation core exercise for men if you have access to a resistance band or cable pulley machine. Standing on one leg improves functional core strength.

Here are the steps for this ab exercise:

  1. Attach a resistance band with a handle to a stationary object or use a cable pulley machine with the handle at chest height. Use a thicker band as you get stronger.
  2. Position yourself so that your body is angled 90 degrees from the anchor point of the band, so it should be to the right or left side of your body. Hold the handle of the band at your sternum. You should be far enough away from the anchor point so that there is significant tension on the band in the starting position.
  3. Stand on one leg, engaging your abs and glutes. Press the band straight out in front of you, not allowing your arms to be pulled inward toward the anchor point.
  4. Complete 15 slow reps and then switch sides.

#5: Weighted Superman

This core exercise targets the back extensions.

Here are the steps for this core exercise:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead, holding onto a dumbbell or medicine ball between both hands.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and back to lift your upper body, head, and chest along with your lower body so that only your tummy stays on the ground. Keep your arms straight when you pick up and lift the weight.
  3. Hold the top position for a full breath and then lower back down.
  4. Complete 12-20 reps.

#6: Hanging Leg Raises

This is a great core exercise for men because it strengthens the entire length of the rectus abdominis, especially the hard-to-target lower abs. 

Here are the steps for this core exercise:

  1. Grab onto a pull-up bar or the bar at the top of a squat rack with your palms facing forward. If there are arm cuffs, place your elbows into the arm slings.
  2. Hang in the fully extended position, holding your upper body and torso as stationary as possible.
  3. As you inhale, draw your legs up towards your chest. Beginners can bend their knees into a tuck and progress to keep their knees straight and pike their legs up as they get stronger. Make sure only to use your abs to lift your legs. Do not swing your body or use momentum to help you.
  4. Hold your legs up for 2–3 seconds, and then slowly lower your legs.
  5. Complete 12-15 reps.

When you are performing your ab workouts, try to pick a handful of exercises that target different muscles of the core as well as the core of the unit. If you are doing ab workouts several times per week, choose different exercises, if possible, on different days. 

This will help maximize the training stimulus that you are providing your core muscles for more well-rounded strength and function.

For even more core exercises, check out our 20 Awesome Plank Variations to spice up your workouts!

A man doing a plank in his livingroom.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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