4 Exercises to Get a Fighter’s Six Pack

As a kid growing up, I would sit in front of a TV all alone in the basement watching old Bruce Lee movies.
His speed, power, athleticism and ripped physique fascinated me to no end. I needed to know how someone could be capable of all this and be as shredded as Bruce Lee was.

Because of this obsession, I was drawn to various styles of martial arts, but boxing was the first thing to catch my eye. After watching Mike Tyson knock out everyone who dared to stand in front of him, the sport had my attention. That wasn’t the only thing that grabbed me, though – he was completely ripped too.

As I started to watch boxing, I noticed that every fighter had an incredibly ripped physique.

If you compare body images with athletes in various sports, we can all agree that  fighters and boxers lead the pack with some of the most desired physiques in sports.

They’re strong, lean, athletic and always shredded. If you have ever seen a fight on TV before, you know what I mean.

Arguably one of the most impressive aspects of the fighter’s image is his midsection. Almost every fighter I saw on TV had chiseled abs that would make any fitness model jealous.

Fighters are also known for having a tremendous amount of core strength.

Have you ever wondered how fighters train their abs?

I know I wanted to know. Hundreds of sit-ups and crunches every day had gotten me nowhere. Even hour long runs every day showed little change.

During this time, I felt like I was getting weaker. I was far from strong and my abs looked like jello even though I had a low body fat percentage.

After months of not seeing the results I wanted, I decided to join a boxing gym. I figured if I wanted to look like a fighter, I should train like one.

On my first day there, I was actually a little disappointed. I did a “boxercise class” that consisted of a bunch of jumping jacks and other cardio exercises.

I was ready to get out of there until I noticed what the actual fighters were doing. Their training was completely different. They trained for performance. It wasn’t surprising to see that these fighters were very fit.

Aesthetics came as a result of their workouts even though it wasn’t the priority. One thing I found remarkable was the type of ab training fighters go through.

Trust me when I tell you this: they don’t train their abs like everyone else.

As a fighter, you receive constant blows to your midsection. You’d better believe you have to train your abdominals differently than everyone else.

Fighters also have to produce large amounts of power in their strikes, and core strength is the central source of this power and athleticism. Try relaxing your abdominals while throwing a punch as hard as you can. Not that impressive, is it?

Without a strong core, fighters cannot do what they do.

Today I am going to give you a glimpse of how top-level fighters train their abs and provide you with a sample ab-training workout.

Before I get into the workout, I am going to reveal three very common mistakes most likely make when it comes to ab training. These three mistakes prevent you from having the Bulletproof Abs you deserve.

Common Ab Training Mistakes

Mistake #1: Too Much Volume

Way too many people perform countless reps of pretty much any type of ab exercise out there.

Instead, we should focus on the strength aspect of core training. By now we should all know that crunches and sit-ups are a complete waste of time, so I won’t beat that dead horse.

The thing is people still do 400-500 reps of an ab exercise. Your abdominals and core should be treated like any other muscle group.

For some weird reason, many people perform more reps when training their core compared to other muscle groups. Strength should also be considered when training your core. You don’t strength train by doing 500 reps of one exercise.

Here’s something else considered “too much volume for core training.” Holding a plank longer than a minute. If you can already hold a plank for a minute or even 30 seconds (assuming you have great form), then it’s time to move on.

There are much more challenging variations you can do to effectively train your abdominals and core. I’m going to show you a plank variation where you will learn to brace your abs like a fighter about to throw a punch.

This leads me to the next mistake.

Mistake #2: Drawing In Instead Of Bracing Your Abs

Here’s what I mean by that: too many people suck in their stomach instead of pushing it out, which is also known as bracing.

Strength comes from bracing your abs, not sucking in your gut. Try pushing a heavy object as hard as you can while sucking in your gut. Now, push that same object while you push your stomach out and brace your abs. You will notice a huge difference.

Drawing in and bracing your abs is the difference between having abs and having abs that really pop. Fighters rely heavily on the brace, and they would not get the same type of power in their strikes if they didn’t brace their abdominals.

One way you can learn to brace your abs is to pretend you are getting hit in the stomach. What’s your initial reaction? You will naturally brace your abs to withstand the blow.

In the workouts I outline later, you will learn specific exercises that force you to brace your abs.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Other Muscles In Your Core

Let’s face it. No one likes love handles. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good, and everyone hates them – even men.

But don’t aim to do one exercise for each muscle group of the core. Instead, we have to focus on exercises that work the core as a whole, if we ever want to develop a rock hard midsection.

How do we do this?

By focusing on stability exercises that prevent movement rather than create it. This way, you have many more muscle groups in your core working to stabilize yourself. This also helps prevent an injury to your lower back.

The last thing you want to do is create mobility in your low back. This is how you commonly injure the lower back region by performing exercises that flex, extend, and laterally flex the spine. Instead, we should focus on stabilization.

You can’t get Bulletproof Abs if you’re injured, so let’s make sure it doesn’t happen.

The Bulletproof Ab Workout

Now that we know the three common mistakes you should never make, it’s time to figure out what we should be doing. Here’s a clue: it involves focusing on lower reps, concentrating on bracing the abs, and working the core as a whole.

In the sample ab workout below, we focus on all three of these aspects. The best part is that you won’t need one piece of equipment. You can literally do this in the comfort of your own living room.

So without further delay, here is your Bulletproof Ab Workout:

The Bulletproof Ab Circuit

Hardstyle Plank – 10 Sec x3

Long Plank Walkouts – 5 Reps

Long Plank Armpit Touches – 5 Reps Each Side

Box Plank – 10 Reps Each Side

Rest 60 Sec

Repeat for a total of 3-4 rounds.

If it’s your first time doing this circuit, start with three rounds and work your way up to four.

Now you’re probably wondering what these exercises look like. Check out the descriptions of each exercise below.

Hardstyle Plank

  • Start in a plank position on your elbows.
  • Make sure there is a straight line from your head to toes.
  • Keep your hands away from each other.
  • Squeeze your abs, glutes, quads, and fists as hard as you can.
  • Drive your elbows to your toes as hard as you can.
  • Hold this tension for 10 seconds and then rest for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat this two more times.

Hardstyle Plank

Long Plank Walkouts

  • Get into the top of a push up position.
  • Walk your hands forward until they are above your head while keeping your abs braced.
  • Walk your hands back into the top of a push up position.
  • Prevent the hips from swaying side to side when performing the movement.

Long Plank Walkouts

Long Plank With Armpit Touch

  • Get into the top of a push up position.
  • Walk your hands forward until they are above your head.
  • Keeping the abs braced, touch the opposite armpit.
  • Repeat the movement, alternating sides for the prescribed reps/time.
  • Prevent the hips from swaying side to side when performing the movement.

Long Plank With Armpit Touch

Box Plank

  • Start in a quadruped position. Knees underneath the hips and hands underneath the shoulders.
  • Brace your abs and get your knees off the ground.
  • Keep the abs braced and without moving the hips, get one hand off the ground.
  • Repeat with the other hand.

Box Plank

Wrap Up

There you have it, a core routine that will have your abs working harder than they ever have before. You can add this circuit to the end of a training session or even on an off day. You can also do this circuit anywhere since you don’t need any equipment.

Performing exercises like these will take you much farther than just getting the standard six pack. Training your core for strength like this will help improve your overall athleticism. This type of ab training also helps supplement any type of lifting you may do.

Remember, the core is the foundation for everything else. If you’re going to overhead press a large amount of weight, a weak midsection cannot support your structure. You will either injure your lower back or not complete the lift.

Same thing goes for a fighter trying to develop more power into his/her strikes. Without a strong midsection, the fighter cannot transfer the power from his/her hips into the end of the punch.

The kinetic chain is useless without a strong core to support it. Perform these exercises on a regular basis and you’ll have Bulletproof Abs in no time.

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About the Author

Andrew RaposoAndrew Raposo is a North American Super Middle Weight Muay Thai Champion and a Two Time Provincial Gold Medalist in Boxing. Andrew is a passionate Fitness & Strength Coach and runs a private practice out of Toronto, Canada. Where he trains high-level fighters for competition as well as transform average bodies into extraordinary results with his unique approach to training. He is also the Creator and Author of www.FighterAbs.com.



McGill, S. “Low Back Disorders.” Human Kinetics, 2002.