10 Best Barbell Ab Exercises and Core Workouts

Barbell Ab Exercises

Whether you want to build six-pack abs or bolster your abdominal muscle, you can do various barbell ab exercises to forge your midsection.

Having a solid core provides stability to your lower back, improves posture, enhances athletic and lifting performance, and minimizes the risk of low-back injuries.

Training your abs with barbells can be challenging; however, it will maximize your core strength and improve the appearance of six-pack abs.

Whether you’re male or female, add these 10 best barbell abdominal exercises to your core workout routine for more variations and decent results.

10 Best Barbell Ab Exercises to Sculpt Your Core

  1. Straight Arm Sit-up
  2. 180 Degree Barbell Rotation
  3. Barbell Oblique Twist
  4. Barbell Rollout
  5. Leg Lifts with Holding Barbell
  6. Single-arm Farmers Walk
  7. Barbell Side Bends
  8. Static Overhead Hold
  9. Single-Leg Deadlift
  10. Barbell Flutter Kicks

Let’s see how to perform these ab exercises with barbells.

1. Straight Arm Sit-up

Benefits: Straight-arm sit-ups strengthen and tone the core muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis, and help improve abdominal endurance, posture, and stability.

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grab an empty bar with a shoulder-width grip and hold your arms straight above your head. Engage your core muscles and slowly curl your upper body until you feel the full contraction in your abs. Lower your upper body back down with control, inhaling as you do.

Exercise Tips: Keep your core tight when you curl your torso.

Recommended reps and sets: Perform two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps.

2. 180 Degree Barbell Rotation

Benefits: The 180-degree Barbell Rotation effectively bolsters the oblique muscles, enhances core strength, and shapes six-pack abs.

How to do it: Position one end of the bar into the corner of the wall and put the desired weight into the other. Grab the second end with both hands and stand in the shoulder-width stance. Take a step back and hold the bar at your forehead level with your arms straight. Slightly lean forward and maintain a tight core and flat back. Twist the bar to your left side until it reaches your hips level. Pause for a moment and bring the barbell to the starting point. Twist the bar to the other side to complete the first rep.

Exercise Tips: Maintain a proper form and ensure your entire torso rotates and you feel the contraction in your obliques.

Recommended reps and sets: Aim for two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps on each side.

3. Barbell Oblique Twist

Benefits: The barbell oblique twist strengthens oblique muscles, enhances core stability, and provides progressive resistance for a well-rounded core workout.

How to do it: Sit on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and back straight. Place an empty barbell on the back of your shoulder and grab the end of it with your hands. Twist your torso to the right, then to the left, and continue doing it until you feel the heat in your oblique muscles.

Exercise Tips: Keep your core engaged at all times, maintain a flat back, and twist your upper body in a controlled fashion.

Recommended reps and sets: Shoot for two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps on each side.

4. Barbell Rollout

barbell ab workout

Benefits: The barbell rollout bolsters the abdominal muscles, including the deep transverse abdominis. It also stimulates the shoulders and lats, helping you improve your overall core stability, posture, and functional strength.

How to do it: Place a loaded barbell on the floor and sit on your knee (on a mat) in front of it. Grab the barbell with both hands, placing them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, slowly roll the barbell forward while extending your body, maintaining a straight line from head to knees. Once you’ve extended as far as your core can control, reverse the motion by pulling the barbell back toward your knees.

Exercise Tips: Place a thick mat under your knee for support. Keep your core engaged and maintain a straight line from your head to your knees throughout the movement to avoid this mistake and protect your lower back.

Recommended reps and sets: Perform two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps.

5. Leg Lifts with Holding Barbell

Benefits: The leg raises hit the lower abs and helps build a solid and sculpted core. This exercise also bolsters shoulder strength because it requires you to hold the barbell over your chest throughout the movement.

How to do it: Grab a loaded or empty barbell (hands slightly wider than shoulder-width) and lie on the floor with your legs extended. Press the barbell over your chest and keep your arms straight. Brace your core and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. That’s the starting position. Raise your legs towards the bar until your abs are fully engaged. Pause for two seconds, then return to the start and repeat.

Exercise Tips: Lift your legs in a controlled manner, engaging your abs.

Recommended reps and sets: Aim for two to three sets of 6 to 8 reps.

6. Single-arm Farmers Walk

Benefits: The single-arm farmers walk is a simple yet effective exercise that helps improve grip and forearm strength, enhance core stability, and promote overall functional strength.

How to do it: Grab a loaded barbell with your right hand and hold it at your side with a straight arm. Keep your core as tight as possible, and walk out as far as you can. Repeat on the opposite side.

Exercise Tips: Do not use heavyweight, keep your other arm straight outward, and maintain a neutral spine position.

Recommended reps and sets: Walk as far as possible on each side and repeat two to three times.

7. Barbell Side Bends

Benefits: Barbell side bend primarily strikes the oblique muscles, helps strengthen and tone the sides of the waist, and improves the six-pack muscle definition.

How to do it: Holding an empty barbell on the back of your shoulder, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your torso to the right until you feel the work in your oblique, then return to the upright position and repeat on the opposite side.

Exercise Tips: Bending too much on your sides can increase the risk of potential back discomfort or injury.

Recommended reps and sets: Shoot for two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps on each side.

8. Static Overhead Hold

Barbell core workout

Benefits: The static overhead hold challenges various muscle groups simultaneously, including the shoulder and abs. It highly stimulates the delts and core, keeping them under constant tension throughout the movement.

How to do it: Grab a loaded barbell, place your hands just inside the ends of the bar, and stand straight in the shoulder-width stance. Brace your abdominal muscles and press or snatch the barbell overhead until your arms are fully straight. Stay in this position for as long as possible.

Exercise Tips: Stand firmly with your core as tight as possible.

Recommended reps and sets: Hold as long as possible and repeat three times.

9. Single-Leg Deadlift

Benefits: The single-leg deadlift is a unilateral hamstring exercise that engages multiple muscles simultaneously, including the abs. It’s a great movement to improve lower body strength and mobility and promotes functional strength for various daily activities and sports.

How to do it: Grab a loaded barbell and stand in upright with your feet together. Keep your abs tight and hold the bar in front of your thigh with your arms straight. Raising your one leg backward, lower the bar until it reaches your shin level. Pause for a second, then return to the standing position slowly and calmly.

Exercise Tips: Focus on balance, maintain a neutral spine, and use proper form with a weight that allows you to control the movement.

Recommended reps and sets: Aim for two to three sets of 5 to 6 reps on each side.

10. Barbell Flutter Kicks

Benefits: Flutter kicks target the lower abdominal muscles, strengthens the core, and enhances muscular endurance, making it one of the valuable addition to your barbell ab workout training.

How to do it: Grab a barbell and lie on the floor with your legs extended. Thrust the barbell over your chest and keep your arms straight. Brace your core and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Flutter your legs (like a scissor) as long as possible.

Exercise Tips: Focus on midsection muscle contraction throughout the movement.

Recommended reps and sets: Perform three sets with each one till failure.

How to Design a Barbell Ab Workout Routine

You’ve seen all the barbell ab exercises; now, let’s see how you can integrate them into a core strengthening workout routine.

Example 1: 10-Minute Barbell Core Workout

  • 15-sec Jumping Jacks
  • 15-sec Mountain Climbing
  • 15-sec High Knees
  • 180-degree Barbell Rotation (10 reps per side)
  • Straight Arm Sit-up (6-8 reps)
  • Static Overhead Hold (5-15 seconds)
  • Barbell Oblique Twist (6-8 reps on each side)
  • Repeat Twice

Example 2: 15-Minute Ab Workout with Barbell

  • 15-sec Jumping Jacks
  • 15-sec Mountain Climbing
  • 15-sec High Knees
  • 5 Burpees
  • 180-degree Barbell Rotation (10 reps per side)
  • Straight Arm Sit-up (6-8 reps)
  • Static Overhead Hold (5-15 seconds)
  • Barbell Rollout (6-8 reps)
  • Barbell Oblique Twist (6-8 reps on each side)
  • Single-arm Farmers Walk (10-15 steps per side)
  • Repeat Twice

Example 3: 20-Minute Barbell Workout to Forge Abs

  • 15-sec Jumping Jacks
  • 5 Burpees
  • 15-sec Mountain Climbing
  • 15-sec High Knees
  • 180-degree Barbell Rotation (10 reps per side)
  • Straight Arm Sit-up (6-8 reps)
  • Static Overhead Hold (5-15 seconds)
  • Barbell Flutter Kicks
  • Barbell Oblique Twist (6-8 reps on each side)
  • Barbell Rollout (6-8 reps)
  • Single-Leg Deadlift (5 reps per leg)
  • Single-arm Farmers Walk (10-15 steps per side)
  • Repeat Twice

You can use one of the workout routines or create your own with the help of the exercises outlined above.

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Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.

About Me

I’m Murshid Akram, a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based and practical information that can help you become stronger, functional, and healthier.

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