You’ve been working on those 6-pack abs for as long as you can remember… and nothing seems to help. Perhaps the solution lies in the results of a new study published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The study showed that doing ab exercises “explosively” (i.e., faster) makes your abdominal muscles work harder.

But this information isn’t all good. Before you start doing lightning-speed crunches, here’s what you need to know…

Explosive movements increase the amount of muscle used, but they also cause more muscle damage… which means more muscle soreness. Plus, you can’t talk about the abs without talking about the lower back and spine. Your lower back and abs need endurance exercises for health and safety, but for 6-pack abs you want maximum abdominal recruitment.

So here’s the best way to get both: Do only one explosive ab movement per workout. Then do at least one ab endurance exercise.

Explosive ab movements include medicine ball slams, sledgehammer swings, kettlebell swings, sandbag swings, and band pulldowns.

Here’s how to do the medicine ball slam: Hold a medicine ball at waist height. Step forward with one leg while raising the ball overhead (stretching your abs). As you plant your foot, reverse your arm direction and contract your abs, driving the medicine ball into the ground. Pick up the ball and repeat 6 times.

After you’ve done your explosive ab exercise, you can do something like a plank, side plank, or plank with your arms on the ball for your abdominal endurance exercise. That will help you work more of your abs while supporting your “core” muscles.

[Ed. Note: Building strong abs is a good way to burn fat. For more simple exercises that can help you lose weight and build muscle, check out fitness expert Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training program.] 

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com