It’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this article you are one of those people that take care of their bodies, trying to stay healthy, lean and muscular. Or at least you strive to be. Noting says ‘fit’ like well developed and strong abdominal muscles. Most athletes and gym goers are simply obsessed with having a well defined six-pack.
They are the standard by which people judge if someone is fit or not. So working on their development is priority for the majority of gym goers.
But before we start talking about the individual weighted ab exercises you can perform to accentuate and develop your abs, let’s make something clear.
No amount of ab exercise can trim your waistline by itself. Spot reduction simply does not exist. Targeting a specific body part with endless reps will not make the fat disappear and improve the way you look. It takes much more than just exercise.
The first and most important factor in determining how lean your muscles look, is your nutrition. Without a properly balanced diet, you’ll probably fail in more than one area.
The other factor is total body workout. You cannot only work a single body part and expect it to improve drastically. You need to train your body as a whole. Only then can you focus on targeting a certain muscle group – the abs in this case – and starting to work on its strength and growth.
Weighted ab exercises, just like with any other muscle group, will help your abs grow stronger and bigger. The increased core strength will be helpful in performing other exercises and activities as well.
Take a look at our selection of 6 weighted ab exercises for developing stronger and more accentuated abdominal muscles.
#1. Barbell Rollouts
The barbell rollouts activate the whole abdominal region and are perfect for strengthening your core, without placing a greater load on your lower back.
In addition, this exercise will improve your shoulder strength and stability as well as your lats (latissimus dorsi).
First, get into a kneeling position with both of your knees on the floor. Instead of placing your hands on the floor, grab a barbell in front of you (see the picture below).
We recommend beginning with an empty barbell. You can start adding weight once you’re able to complete 10 reps. Advanced users can start in a push up position instead of kneeling position.
#2. Weighted Hanging Leg Raise
This is one of the most challenging exercises on this list, and probably not everyone will be able to perform it correctly at first.
If you are a newbie, we strongly recommend to have someone show you how it’s executed properly. In any case, if you want to perform it, you should be able to perform the hanging straight leg raise first.
When done properly the weighted hanging leg rise is one of the best exercises for your abs, and one that should be included in your routine.
In addition to activating your lower abs, it also targets a whole range of other muscles.
While hanging from a bar, pick a dumbbell between your feet. Slowly bring your knees up to your torso and then lower them down to the starting position.
Start light, holding only a small dumbbell between your feet. Try increasing the load with each following workout session. Try completing at least 3 sets with 8 reps each.
#3. Rolling Side Plank
The side plank is especially effective for increasing the strength of the obliques, which are used as core stabilizers. As a bonus, you get increased lower back and shoulder strength.
We recommend performing this exercise instead of the side bends, because the mechanics of this movement are much more natural.
After all, the lateral core stabilizers serve in preventing the lateral flexion, and are not built for performing side to side movement. And since it allows unilateral activation of your muscles, it can help you perfect the imbalances.
While the static plank is an effective exercise, you can further increase its benefits by making it dynamic.
Weighted side plank – the rolling plank
You can even increase its difficulty by adding cable weight, thus increasing the anti-rotary tension affect.
To do this, position yourself near a cable pulley, so that the cables are within your reach. It’s crucial that your spine is a neutral position when your perform the motion.
Always begin with lighter loads, increasing the tension as you progress. Keep your sets into 8-12 rep range.
#4. Landmine Anti-Rotation
What is anti rotation? Simply put these are exercises where your core is working to resist rotation of your spine, pelvis and hips. The landmine anti-rotation exercise increases your core strength, targeting the obliques as well.
If you don’t have the appropriate equipment for this exercise, you can overcome the problem by placing a barbell in a corner of the room.
– Stand straight and grab the bar and push it out in front of you.
– Swipe the bar from your left to your right and the other way around in front of you.
The key of good execution of this exercise is to avoid moving your hips. Focus on moving only your arms as you move them through the half-moon motion with the bar.
If you want to place an even greater focus on your abdominal muscle fibres, squeeze them hard at top of each rep, and exhale.
#5. Oblique Bench Hold With Weight
The oblique bench hold works the obliques through static tension known as an isometric contraction. This exercise is actually a variation of the side plank.
Find a secure, stable bench and sit on one of its ends holding a weight plate. Slowly lie down on your side and hook your feet under the bench, providing support and stability for your torso. Your bottom leg should go forward (see image below).
Start pushing the plate in front of you. Do several reps, and switch sides.
#6. Weighted Sit-ups
You can perform this exercise in a traditional way, with your knees bent, or you can do it with straight legs.
This will reduce the stress on your back, and will help you in isolating the abdominal area much better, reducing the hip flexors activation at the same time.
The key is proper form, so you should avoid rocking yourself and performing sudden upward movements. Focus on your abdominals to execute a steady lift.
Lie down on the floor holding a weight plate above your chest with your arms fully extended. Start doing a full sit up. As you come up, push the weight above your head with your arms still extended.
Don’t bring the weight forward, just above your head. Then, lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
And there you you have it – a collection of six weighted ab exercises that will strengthen your core and make your abdominal muscles grow. But remember, a strong core does not equal a visible six pack. So make sure you follow a healthy diet and do some cardio as well.