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3 Ab Exercises Mark Wahlberg Swears By for a Chiseled Six-Pack

How Mark Wahlberg maintains his famous six-pack. 
FACT CHECKED BY Jeremy Horowitz

Mark Wahlberg has been flexing his six-pack since his early days as the frontman for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and at 52, the actor continues to flash his rock-hard abs that still look like his infamous Calvin Klein commercials from decades ago. Given his commitment and dedication to fitness, it's no wonder the action star maintains his sculpted physique and has no problem showing off his toned tummy.

Wahlberg has a strict regime and just a few weeks back, revealed the moves he swears by to get his chiseled abs. Here's a closer look at routine and what experts think. 

Ab Roller

Mark Wahlberg/Instagram

In the video posted to Instagram a few weeks ago, Wahlberg revealed how he keeps his six-pack and the first exercise was an ab roller, which is "a great workout for toning the stomach muscles," ACE-certified trainer and nutritionist Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, says. She explains why it's an effective move.

  • "It primarily targets the rectus abdominis, the muscle responsible for the 'six-pack' appearance. The exercise involves using an ab roller wheel, where you start in a kneeling position and roll the wheel forward, extending your body as far as you can while engaging your core. Then, you roll back to the starting position.
  • The rolling ab exercise helps tone your stomach by providing an intense isometric contraction to your abdominal muscles. It challenges your core stability and forces your abs to work hard to control the movement throughout the exercise. This constant engagement helps strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles over time.
  • For reps, it's recommended to start with a few sets of 8 to 10 reps and gradually increase the number of reps as you get more comfortable with the exercise. Ensure you maintain proper form throughout the movement to avoid strain or injury."

RELATED: 5 Best Belly Fat Exercises You Can Do in Just 10 Minutes a Day

Cable Woodchop

Mark Wahlberg/Instagram

Next, Wahlberg targeted his obliques with an exercise called the cable woodchop. "To perform the cable woodchop, you'll need a cable machine with a handle attachment," Sabat says. She shares how to properly do the workout. 

  • "Stand sideways to the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then grab the handle with both hands. 
  • Start with your arms extended diagonally upward and away from the machine. 
  • Next, pull the handle down and across your body in a chopping motion, rotating your torso as you bring the handle down to the opposite side of your body. The resistance from the cable challenges your core muscles and helps sculpt your abs and obliques."

She adds, "For reps, you can do 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps per side. As with any exercise, ensure you maintain proper form and control throughout the movement."

Machine Vertical Crunch

Mark Wahlberg/Instagram

"I go light on the first set," Wahlberg said as he began his workout on the machine vertical crunch, which targets the upper abdominal muscles "and also engages the hip flexors to a certain extent," Sabat says. Here's how she suggests performing on the machine vertical crunch.

  • "Sit on a vertical crunch machine with your back against the padded support. 
  • Place your hands on your head or cross them over your chest. 
  • Contract your abs to curl your upper body downward, bringing your rib cage towards your pelvis. 
  • Avoid using your arms to pull your head forward. Slowly return to the starting position."

For reps, Sabat recommends, "aiming for 3 to 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps. Maintain a controlled pace and focus on squeezing your abs during each contraction."

RELATED: 8 Easiest Daily Exercises for a Visibly Toned Six-Pack

Wahlberg Works Out at 4 a.m.

Mark Wahlberg/Instagram

Throughout his Instagram feed, Wahlberg mentions the "4 a.m. club" frequently, which references the time he's in the gym. He starts early and Sabat explains there are many benefits to doing so. 

  • "Discipline and Consistency: Early morning workouts require discipline and help establish a consistent exercise routine. Starting the day with a workout sets a positive tone for the rest of the day and promotes better adherence to the fitness regimen.
  • Increased Energy and Productivity: Exercising in the morning can boost energy levels and improve mental clarity and focus throughout the day. It can also enhance productivity and performance in daily tasks.
  • Metabolism Boost: Morning workouts can kickstart your metabolism and keep it elevated throughout the day, potentially leading to increased calorie burning and fat loss.
  • Better Mood and Stress Reduction: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Morning workouts can help reduce stress and promote a more positive mindset.
  • Empty Stomach: Exercising in a fasted state in the morning may enhance fat burning. When your body is in a fasted state, it relies more on stored fat as a fuel source during the workout."

Wahlberg Fasts

Mark Wahlberg/Instagram

In the video, Wahlberg says he will fast for a day or two when he needs to get into shape for a role and Sabat explains, "Intermittent fasting has been associated with various health benefits, but its direct connection to toning abs is not specific." She adds, "Fasting, particularly in the morning before a workout, might enhance fat burning during exercise, as your glycogen stores are lower, and the body may rely more on stored fat for energy. However, the most critical factor for toning abs is a combination of consistent exercise that targets the abdominal muscles and a healthy diet that supports muscle growth and fat loss. Remember, 'Abs are made in the kitchen!'"

RELATED: 7 Science-Backed Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Wahlberg in Action

The Ted star targets his abs in a variety of ways which help shape his six-pack, give him lean muscle, and provide stability, support, and balance. In addition to the three moves he features in the video, at the end Wahlberg does sit-ups with a heavyweight to help strengthen his core. 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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