So beach season is rolling around, and you’ll be spending a lot of time down at the beach or out in the pool. Is your body beach season ready? If not, don’t worry! You don’t need to do hundreds of crunches or sit-ups to get those chiseled abs. With proper diet and this six pack abs routine, you can target your core like never before, and have something to show off the next time you’re at a summer pool party.

Abdominal Anatomy

To get a defined six pack, it is important to understand the muscles which you will be targeting. Essentially, the “abs” are made up of 3 major muscle groups. These are the rectus abdominis, located along the front of the abdomen and commonly known as the six-pack; the transverse abdominis, which are located deeper and support the spine and stability; and the obliques, which are located on either side of the rectus abdominis. Furthermore, the rectus abdominis can be divided into two separate sections: upper and lower abdominals.

In this six pack abs routine, we will be performing one exercise per each muscle group (counting the upper and lower rectus abdominis separately), for a total of 4 abdominal exercises.

The Six Pack Abs Routine

As previously discussed, we will be hitting each muscle group with one specific exercise which uniquely targets that section of the abs. Unlike other muscles in the body, the abs are made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers (those responsible for endurance), and as a result, respond well to higher repetition ranges. For best results, perform each of the below exercises with a weight that you can handle for 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Kneeling Cable Crunch - Targets the upper rectus abdominis. Kneel in front of the cable machine with the rope attachment hanging slightly above shoulder height. Gripping either side of the rope attachment with a neutral grip (palms facing each other), contract your abs until your elbows touch your knees. Hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

Lying Leg Raise - Targets the lower rectus abdominis. Lay flat on your back on the floor or an ab mat. Your arms should be at your sides, with palms face down and tucked slightly under your buttocks for support. Your legs should be straight out with both feet together, the backs of your heels touching the floor. Slowly contract your lower abs and raise your legs off the ground until your legs are perpendicular to your body and the floor. Try to keep your legs straight throughout the motion, without bending at the knees. Slowly return to the start position.

Dumbbell Side Bend - Targets the obliques. Stand with one arm holding a dumbbell of suitable weight at one side, palm facing inward. You may rest your opposite hand on your hip. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lower the dumbbell towards the floor until it is about even with your knee. Then, contractor your oblique muscles to slowly return the weight to its starting position. Continue for desired repetition range, and then switch sides and repeat.

Static Plank - Targets the transvers abdominis. Begin by placing your forearms on the ground, shoulder length apart. Legs should be straight with feet together and toes touching the floor. Contract your core to stabilize your body as you hold yourself up on toes and forearms. Neck and spine should be neutral and parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. For more advanced athletes, 45 to 60 seconds may be more appropriate.

Things to Note

By performing this routine 2 to 3 times per week, you will be targeting your visible abdominal muscles to tone and define them, but it is important to note that having a low body fat percentage (8 to 10 percent for males and 12 to 14 percent for females) will greatly improve the visibility of the muscle striations in your core. Cardio and proper diet are definitely key factors and should be considered alongside this routine for best results.