We crave them, we obsess about them, and we’re constantly holding them in. We’re talking about abs, of course. With a solid diet plan and a well-thought-out abs program, you can achieve a sought-after midsection.

The following abs workout is designed to help you sculpt a sleek, tight midriff through a progressive approach to abdominal training. At first, the targeted exercises will help build core strength and endurance. From there you can progress to more difficult and weighted versions of these exercises, which will harden the abs and help reduce fat levels. The end result is a twice-a-week routine (with at least 48 hours of rest between workouts) that’ll finally flatten your midsection and give you the sexy six-pack you’ve been dreaming of.

So say goodbye to a flabby middle and hello to four moves that will reshape and strengthen your abs and obliques.

1. Upper Abs

Exercise-Ball Crunch

Setup: Lie back on an exercise ball so your lower and middle back are supported, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Cross your hands over your chest.

Movement: Crunch up until you can’t go any higher, then slowly lower back to the start position, trying to place one vertebra at a time on the ball. That comprises one rep. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Tip: Make this move harder by holding dumbbells or a medicine ball with your

2. Lower Abs

Exercise-Ball Reverse Crunch

Setup: Lie faceup on the floor with your arms at your sides and your lower legs resting atop an exercise ball so the ball is tucked underneath your knees. Dig your heels into the ball and lift it off the floor.

Movement: Contract your abs to bring your knees toward your chest. To make the movement harder, lift your glutes off the floor as you bring your knees toward your chin. For the most advanced reverse crunch, add a simultaneous upper-abs crunch. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.


3. Obliques

Abdominal Rotation

Setup: Attach a resistance band to a bar that’s level with your lower ribcage or position a rope attachment at the same height on a cable pulley. With your feet wider than shoulder-width and knees slightly bent, grasp the handle with one or both hands, and hold both arms so your elbows are pressed tight against your body.

Movement: Rotate your torso away from the bar, using your abdominal muscles to work against the resistance. Do not move your arms. Repeat for reps, then turn and face the other direction to train your other side. Completing both sides equals one set. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Tip: Extend your arms as you become more accustomed to this exercise.

4. Obliques

High-Cable Woodchop

Setup: Adjust the pulleys at a cable station so they’re as high as possible on both stacks. Stand about 2′ from one stack, turning so your side faces it, feet wider than shoulder-width and knees slightly bent. Grasp a stirrup handle with both hands, arms extended and overhead.

Movement: Keeping your arms extended, use your midsection to pull the cable diagonally across your body toward the opposite leg. Repeat for reps, switch, and do the other side. Completing both sides equals one set. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Tip: As you get stronger, bring the attachment lower on the downswing.