Getting Washboard “Six Pack” Abs Exercise


If you are looking for a great exercise to work your abs and give you that ridged, washboard look, side to side knee-ups are a great way to get that cut look. It is one of several workouts that will get your heart pumping and work your abs and lower body. These types of exercises are completely different from stretches, which are also an important component of fitness.

Your stomach has four main muscle groups: external obliques, internal obliques, transversus abdominis, and rectus abdominis. A strong core helps your balance, makes you stronger, makes everyday tasks more manageable, and improves your posture. For older adults, a strong core can keep you walking on your own for much longer.


What Muscles Are Behind Washboard Abs?

Most people will tell you that the secret of getting great abs is through squats, deadlifts, hanging knee raises, and a few other exercises, along with a low body fat percentage. It is between 14-20% for women, while men must go as low as 6-13%.


The rectus abdominis muscle, which runs from the bottom of your ribcage to your hips, is responsible for that V-cut trademark of washboard abs. While squats and deadlifts work the posterior core muscles and are great for contributing to six-pack abs, unless you work out the rectus abdominis, you will not get that definition you are seeking.


How to Do Side to Side Bent Knee-ups

Side to side bent knee-ups can be done at a gym or anywhere where there is a bar that can hold your weight. Make sure you have enough room as you will be swinging your legs and will need enough room. A pullup bar in your doorway should give you adequate space.


  1. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with a firm hold. If your hands are sweaty, chalk or workout gloves can help.
  2. Lower until you are hanging and bend your knees; your knees should stay bent throughout each set.
  3. Exhale as you twist at the hips while raising your knees to the right or left. Your knees should be near the center while your feet are off to the side.
  4. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then inhale as you lower your legs back down with your knees still bent.
  5. Exhale and raise your knees again to the opposite side, hold for 1-2 seconds, then inhale as you lower your legs back down.


Make sure you have a firm overhand grip to prevent swinging, as this will decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. Your upper body should not move at all. With side to side bent knee-ups, you want to make sure you round your back to avoid injuring it.


For a hardcore side to side bent knee-up workout, try this routine:


  1. Complete 10-20 reps per side alternating between each side
  2. After each set, complete 3-6 fast mini-reps on each side
  3. Rest for 15-20 seconds
  4. Repeat three times


A great follow-up to this exercise is a back workout to keep you strong and healthy. You don’t want to neglect one area of your body while concentrating on another. Your knees are especially vulnerable, especially as you age, so be sure to add some exercises for your knees, as well.


If you are starting a new workout routine, you may not complete a full set. If you follow a well-rounded core exercise program, you will feel yourself getting stronger, and soon you will be able to finish this set more easily.


However, if you are looking for a different way to work your core and get a great full-body workout, try using a rowing machine. It is a low-impact exercise that works your core, lower and upper body muscles and gives you a great cardio workout.


Exercising your core is vital to staying healthy and fit throughout your life.