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Upper Abdominal Exercises

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 5/1/2019

The 3 Best Exercises for Your Upper Abs

Chiseling a six pack is the goal of just about every lifter, but many complicate the process. Building those blocks of muscle on your upper abs can be straightforward, though, if you take an intelligent approach and work hard.

While some debate whether or not it’s possible to separate upper abs from lower abs in your training, it’s almost certainly true that some movements emphasize one area over the other.

With that in mind, here are 3 of the best exercises for your upper abs.


Lie on a floor or bench with your knees at about a 45-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor (or bench). Alternatively, you can rest your lower legs across a low bench.

Cross your arms over your chest, palms on opposite shoulders, and try to keep you neck in a neutral position. Now, using the power of your (upper) abs, curl your shoulders off the floor and move them toward your knees. Continue until your lower back is flat against the floor and you feel an intense contraction in your abs, then slowly reverse the movement to the starting point.

Cable Crunches

There are plenty of fancy crunch machines available, but most trainees have access to an overhead cable, which can work just as well.

Using a rope or bar attached to an overhead cable, kneel down on a mat in front of the machine with the handle held just above your head. To start, your torso should be nearly perpendicular to the floor. Contract your upper abs to curl your torso toward the floor and pause when you reach full contraction. Slowly and smoothly reverse the movement and return to the start.


Sit-ups have developed a bad reputation because they don’t target the abs as the primary movers AND they can be hard on your lower back if you do them poorly. But they ARE a compound movement which can give your abs lots of stimulation.

To do sit-ups, lie on the floor (or a bench) with your knees bent and your feet flat and hooked under something stationary as an anchor. Cross your arms over your chest and keep your head in a neutral position to avoid neck strain.

Begin the movement by curling your shoulders off the floor, just as you would in a crunch, but ALSO flex your hip muscles so that the movement continues to the point that your lower back rises off the floor and your shoulders come up to near your knees. The entire motion should be slow and controlled with no jerking or flopping. At the top, reverse smoothly, and resist hard with your abs as your return to the starting position. This will involve a powerful negative contraction of your upper abs.

If you apply yourself to these upper ab exercises and keep your body fat in check, building and displaying great upper abs is not all that complicated. Train hard, and you’ll see results that might surprise even you.

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