Shredded Abs Without Ab Exercises

Forget crunches and leg raises, get ripped abs from performing your favorite lifts.


Some think they need to perform thousands of sit-ups and crunches to get their abs to pop. It’s what bodybuilders do, and they have shredded abs, but so do many weightlifters, sprinters, and gymnasts—and ab training is usually a small part of their workouts, if it’s done at all.

If your abs are nonexistent, but your diet is in order, the problem may be that you’re performing too many isolation exercises or relying too much on machines. If your body is always supported and locked into one position, your core doesn’t have to stabilize it. Try doing standing exercises and concentrate on classic strength-building moves like squats, dead-lifts, overhead presses, and bent-over rows. Your core is engaged in all these lifts to protect your spine, so you’re getting ab work while training other muscles—and you won’t get bored as with sit-ups.

For even more ab shredding, perform standing exercises unilaterally—such as one-arm overhead presses and single-leg deadlifts. Your abs will be on fire.


Alternate sets of the paired exercises, marked A and B.

1) Squat
Sets: 5  Reps: 5

2A) One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press
Sets: 3  Reps: 8-10

2B) Suspended One-Arm Row
Sets: 3  Reps: 8-10
Attach a suspension trainer such as a TRX to a pull-up bar and hold one handle. Allow your body to be suspended at a 45-degree angle. Row your sternum up to the handle.

3) Single Leg Deadlift
Sets: 3  Reps: 8-10
Bend one knee 90 degrees so you’re standing on one leg. Bend your hips back and reach toward the floor. Go as low as you can, keeping your back flat.

4) Overhead Plate Carry
Sets: As many as needed
Reps: Walk for 60 total seconds
Hold a heavy weight straight overhead and walk. Rest 30 seconds and repeat until you’ve walked 60 total seconds.

Quick Tip: When performing single-arm lifts, proper posture is crucial. If you feel your shoulders or hips beginning to twist or become uneven, end the set.


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