Nearly everybody, regardless of individual fitness goals, desires to have a nice tight core. Six-pack abs are a status symbol of physical fitness. Whether gained easily or through a battle against genetics, they state that the owner is in peak condition. Fitness magazines and fashion ads display models with perfectly toned stomachs and promote this as an ideal.

While it is easy to see the allure of six-pack abs, it is not necessarily easy to get them. Fitness magazines may have covers that boast of attaining a six-pack in mere minutes, but it is generally nothing but hype, to get people to the buy the magazine. The kind of six-pack that can be attained in such a short amount of time has nothing to do with trimming the waist.

One thing that often gets overlooked is the fact that all the exercises in the world won’t do the slightest good at uncovering the abs if the diet is not right. A proper six-pack begins at the dinner table.

Assuming, however, that the right kinds and amounts of food are being eaten, exercise is still necessary to build and shape the abdominal muscles. Otherwise, every skinny person in the world would be rocking perfect abs. They aren’t, though, because work is required.

Working the abs in a manner that is time efficient and intense does not require a great amount of space or equipment. In fact, a killer ab workout can be accomplished in half an hour or less, take up only a few feet, use only a few pieces of equipment and leave your stomach screaming.

This can be done using six exercises and perform them in a non-stop circuit of beautiful, gut-busting, ab scorching fun. Fun may be a relative term here, but even if another would choose the word torture, the system works.

It is the same routine that I have used when focusing on carving up my core to be stage-ready for physique competitions; a competition that, above all else, requires a picture perfect stomach.

Bryce Reedy | The Criterion

The first exercise, BOSU (both sides up) ball jackknives, is the most technically difficult exercise. It stimulates every aspect of the core and sets the tone for the workout. To perform these, place the ball flat side down and sit just ahead of the topmost point of the rounded portion. Place hands on the ball for a small measure of stability and tuck knees up toward chin.

Slowly extend legs forward while rotating upper body backward until arriving at a fully stretched out position. Contract the abs and return to the knees tucked starting position. Perform the reps without touching feet to floor.

The next two exercises, standing kettlebell oblique crunches, are essentially the same and target the oblique muscles specifically, but also include the abs and lower back muscles. These are performed by holding a kettlebell in one hand with palms turned in.

Bend down laterally on the same side as the weight as far as possible, and then return to starting position. When all reps are performed on one side, switch the weight to the other hand and repeat.

Fourth, leg raises target the lower abs while keeping the upper abs constantly engaged. To perform this, lay supine with head elevated and feet approximately six inches off the ground. Raise legs to vertical and then return to starting position.

Any time the core is engaged, lower back needs to be included, so the fifth exercise is back bridges. Lay supine with knees bent and feet flat. Engage the lower back to lift hips toward the ceiling until maximum contraction is achieved. Return to starting position and repeat.

The last exercise is another all-encompassing exercise: Russian twists with a weighted medicine ball. Balance on glutes with feet held above the ground and upper body rotated back in a V-position. Hold the medicine ball with both hands and rotate from side to side. The abdominal muscles will be engaged the entire time, lower back muscles serve to stabilize and obliques alternately contract for the rotation.

To turn these six exercises into an ab-blasting inferno workout, set a timer for 30 minutes and perform the circuit as many times as possible before time expires. Consistent use of the workout will shape the stomach into something to be envied, as long as poor food choices don’t keep it covered with a soft layer.

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Chris DeLeon
Chris DeLeon is The Criterion's news editor for the 2017/2018 academic year and a certified personal trainer and military veteran. He is in his second year at CMU, working towards a bachelor of science degree in exercise science before going towards a doctorate in physical therapy. Chris began writing seven years ago but recently brought his love of the written word to journalism.

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