Want Ripped Abs Fast? 11 Upper Ab Exercises That Will Get You Shredded

We’ve all seen those perfectly sculpted six packs and dreamed of having a core that could cut glass. While building core strength takes consistency over time, focusing your workouts on effective upper ab exercises can help you see visible results much faster.

The upper abs take more work to develop than the lower abs since we use our core for basic movements like sitting and standing throughout the day. By targeting your upper abs specifically with challenging exercises, you’ll see definition in no time.

In this blog, I’m sharing 11 of the most effective upper ab exercises to help you get shredded abs, fast. I’ve included exercises you can do at home with no equipment needed, as well as variations you can do with minimal gear. By following a full-body upper ab routine 2-3 times per week, you’ll be well on your way to seeing those coveted upper abs emerge.

Ready to transform your core? Let’s dive into the best upper ab exercises.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers- upper ab exercises

This bodyweight HIIT exercise works your entire core but puts an emphasis on engaging your upper abs. Get in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart. Draw one knee towards your chest, then return and bring the opposite knee forward in a marching motion. Go as fast as you can and maintain good form to really challenge your upper abs.

Superman Hold

Superman Hold- upper ab exercises

The Superman hold is an effective isometric exercise that targets your entire back side as well as your upper abs. Lie face down on the floor with your arms extended overhead. Slowly lift your arms, legs, and chest off the floor to form a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds while contracting your abs and glutes.

Hanging Knee Raises

Hanging Knee Raises- upper ab exercises

If you have a pull-up bar, hanging knee raises are a challenging exercise that torches your upper abs. Grip the bar with an overhand or underhand grip and hang with straight arms. Bring your knees up towards your chest one at a time in a rhythmic motion, maintaining tension on your abs the whole time. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Swiss Ball Crunches

Swiss Ball Crunches- upper ab exercises

Crunches on a stability ball engage your core even more than regular crunches since you have to work to balance on the unstable surface. Lie backwards on the ball with your feet on the floor. Cross your hands behind your head and crunch up by contracting your abs, being sure not to pull on your neck. Lower back to the starting position in a slow, controlled manner.

Plank Jacks

Plank Jacks- upper ab exercises

Take your plank to the next level with this explosive upper body move. Get in a high plank position and simultaneously jump your feet out wide while bringing your hands closer together, as if doing a jumping jack. Reverse the motion quickly and repeat for the duration of your set. Go for 30-60 seconds to maximize core activation.

Spiderman Pushup

Spiderman Pushup- upper ab exercises

This pushup variation challenges your whole body but puts extra emphasis on really engaging your upper abs. Get in a high plank position and perform a pushup. As you press up, kick one foot forward and attempt to touch the outside of that foot with the opposite hand. Return to start and switch sides. Focus on contracting your abs throughout the movement.

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches- upper ab exercises

A classic ab exercise, bicycle crunches work your whole core with an emphasis on your upper abs. Lie on your back with hands behind your head and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your shoulder blades slightly off the floor and bring one knee towards your chest while extending the opposite leg. Simultaneously twist your upper body towards the bent knee. Alternate in a continuous bicycle-pedaling motion.

Plank Jack Planks

Plank Jack Planks- upper ab exercises

Take your standard plank to the next level by adding a stability challenge. From a high plank position, jump both feet wide while keeping your core braced. Quickly reverse the motion and return feet together, maintaining a tight plank the whole time. Squeeze your glutes and engage your upper abs to hold strong throughout each repetition.

Ab Rolls

Ab Rolls

Use a sturdy exercise roller or foam roller for this challenging full-body move. Kneel behind the roller with straight arms extended directly in front of your shoulders. Roll the device forward by contracting your abs and walk your hands out in front of you. Pause, then reverse the motion back to start. Focus on stabilizing with your abs throughout the range of motion.


Wood Chops

Stand tall holding a weight at chest level with both hands up over your head. Brace your core and slowly lower the weight down and across your body on an angle by twisting at the hips. Bring the weight back up to start and repeat on the opposite side in a chopping motion. Maintain tension in your abs on each rep to maximize the core challenge.

Russian Twists

Russian Twists

Sitting on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, lean back at a 45-degree angle supported by your hands placed lightly behind your hips. Lift your feet a few inches off the floor and twist your upper body from side to side, letting the momentum of the weight in your hands drive the movement. Focus on bracing your core during each change of direction.

The 11 best upper ab exercises that will transform your core fast include mountain climbers, Superman holds, hanging knee raises, Swiss ball crunches, plank jacks, spiderman pushups, bicycle crunches, plank jack planks, ab rolls, woodchoppers, and Russian twists. Aim to complete 2-3 exercises per workout, doing 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each. Follow a full-body routine 2-3 times per week and you’ll see visible upper ab definition in no time!

You may also love to read The Ultimate Guide to Losing Belly Fat with Smoothies Fast!

Let me know if you have any other core questions – developing a strong, sculpted midsection is one of my specialties. I’d be happy help provide a customized workout plan tailored to your goals and fitness level. Wishing you the best of luck on your core transformation journey!

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