Regardless of whether you are just getting into fitness for the first time or you are a certified gym-junkie. There are a million different workouts for abs, each promising to give you the secret to six-pack abdominals. How do you know which workout for abs is right for you?
Sure, we know the basic principle behind visible abs it is not complicated. However somewhere between cutting out carbs and hitting the gym. We get a little lost on our journey to that often-elusive washboard abs midsection.
It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the simple fact is no matter how hard you push yourself. No matter how bulging your biceps are or how much you can lift. Your overall physique will always be judged on how visible your abdominal muscles are.
So the list of benefits of adding abs exercises to your gym repertoire and strengthening your core is almost endless. In the end, you also happen to sculpt a picture-perfect six-pack at the same time.
Whatever your goals are, though, getting there means incorporating the best-of-the-best abs exercises into your routine. Ab workouts have moves that work all of the major muscles and exercises that work them at the same time. If you want to see major results, you have to train your abs from every angle.
Upper Abs Workout
The rectus abdominis muscle is informally known as the abs muscle. The upper area of the rectus abdominis muscle includes the abdominals located directly below the sternum and about two to three inches above the belly button.
Often targeted by “tucking” or “pulling” such as the knees toward the chest or bringing the chest towards the abdomen. Upper ab exercises are great companions to lower ab exercises but also function completely well as standalone exercises.
Upper Abs Workout : Crunches
While the crunch is a popular core move, and it seems basic. However, the crunch is a classic core exercise. It specifically trains your abdominal muscles, which are part of your core.
- Lie on your back with your hands crossed over your chest.
- Place your feet on the floor with your legs bent.
- Lift your torso along with your shoulder blades off the floor and crunch your rib cage towards your lower belly.
- Hold for two counts and then lower slowly to the starting position.
Upper Abs Workout : Cross Crunches
While it’s not required, you’ll probably want to use a mat for this exercise. Start by taking a nice deep breath and focusing on your abs. This workout is great because not only does it work out your upper abs but also your obliques.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and hands behind your head.
- Keeping lower back pressed into the floor. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor and then curl your upper body diagonally across your body towards your right knee.
- Contract your abs and obliques as hard as you can at the top of the movement.
- Lower back down and repeat on the same side before switching sides.
Upper Abs Workout : Exercise Ball Crunches
You can do this exercise with the help of weights or you can simply use your own body weight.
- Get hold of an Exercise ball and sit on it.
- Slowly roll out such that your back is firmly placed on the ball.
- Place your hands behind your head or extend them in front of you. Your thighs must be parallel to the floor.
- Curl your back and raise your head and shoulder blades off the ball to do a crunch.
Upper Abs Workout : Knee Crunches
It primarily targets the rectus abdominis or “six-pack” muscles. It can be performed for time or reps as part of any abs-focused circuit or workout.
- Lie with your back flat on the ground and your legs raised.
- Hold your hands behind your head and look toward your stomach.
- Contract your abs and bring your knees up to your elbows.
Upper Abs Workout : V-Up’s
The V-Up is a full-body move that works your core, legs, back, and shoulders. The exercise is beloved by fitness fanatics for its ability to work the upper and lower abdominal muscles simultaneously. A V-Up involves sitting on the floor or a mat and positioning the body in the shape of the letter “V.”
- Lie flat on your back with arms stretched out behind your head, palms facing upwards.
- Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and torso, as if you are trying to touch your toes. The movement should come from your trunk.
- Go back to the starting position and begin the next repetition straight away.
Upper Abs Workout : Bicycle Crunches
Through each and every rep, make sure you’re using your core to do the work, with absolutely no momentum.
- Start in the usual sit-up position, with your legs together, knees bent, and fingers behind your ears. Your core should be tight and remain this way throughout the exercise.
- When you’re ready to begin, simultaneously draw your left knee towards you, kick out your right leg and perform a sit-up. As you sit up, twist your body so your right elbow moves towards your left knee.
- Without stopping, straighten your left leg and bring your right knee towards your chest. When the sit-up movement is complete, your elbow should be touching your opposite knee. Simultaneously twist your core and upper body to bring your left elbow towards your right knee.
- Keep up this pedaling and twisting motion for at least 15 reps. Working both sides counts as a single rep.
Lower Abs Workout
No matter whether you’re gunning for that elusive eight-pack or just want to bolster your core, it’s likely lower ab workouts are the missing link in your training arsenal. Though just one muscle – the rectus abdominis – runs down your abdomen, most abs movements primarily activate the ‘upper’ section, making your otherwise impressive rig a little top-heavy in terms of strength. Part of the rectus abdominis, the middle abs are defined as the middle region of the stomach, below the upper aspect while above the lower aspect of the abdominals.
Generally, this location of the abdominal muscles is used in nearly all ab exercises, the difference being where the emphasis of the particular exercise lies. If there is no emphasis on a specific aspect, then they are considered middle ab exercises. Using a targeted exercise can be quite beneficial when one is attempting to sculpt a very specific muscle area.
Lower Abs Workout : Reverse Crunches
The reverse crunch is a challenging core exercise that makes up your “six-pack”. It’s a simple exercise that you can pick up in minutes and is great for beginners and fitness aficionados alike
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet a few inches off the floor.
- Slowly contract the abs, focusing on rotating the pelvis up and bringing your knees towards your rib cage.
- Concentrate on letting your abs do the work. Hold at the top then slowly lower your knees to the starting position.
Lower Abs Workout : Flutter Kicks
Flutter kicks are an exercise that works the muscles of your core, specifically the lower rectus abdominal muscles, plus the hip flexors. You can perform them lying on your back, or, if you want to also strengthen your back muscles, you can do them lying on your stomach.
- Lie down on your back, facing up.
- Place both your hands underneath your buttocks.
- Keep your lower back on the ground as you lift the right leg off the ground slightly past hip height, and lift the left leg so it hovers a few inches off the floor.
- Hold for 2 seconds, then switch the position of the legs, making a flutter kick motion.
- For more of a challenge, lift your head and neck off the floor.
Lower Abs Workout: Dead Bug
The dead bug, an exercise that trainers are increasingly relying on to strengthen the core as the arms and legs move. It’s easy enough to integrate into any workout, but it functions especially well as part of a dynamic warm-up
- Lie faceup with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). This is starting position.
- Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground. Squeeze your butt and keep your core engaged the entire time, lower back pressed into the floor.
- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm.
Lower Abs Workout : Pistol Squat
Pistol squat benefits reach out as far as giving you some rock-hard abs! The pistol squat requires heavy core support and posture alignment in order to keep your balance. They will help tone and strengthen your midsection while building leg strength all at the same time.
- Stand on one foot, and extend the opposite leg in front of you.
- Hold your chest and head high, pull your shoulders back and down, and engage your core muscles.
- Then bend your knee, and hinge forward at the hips to lower into a squat. Hold your arms straight out in front of you for counterbalance.
- Continue lowering, keeping your back straight and your torso as upright as possible, until you reach the bottom of the squat, with your butt at your heel (the complete range of motion).
- Engage your glutes, and push through your heel to stand.
Lower Ab Workout : Leg Raise
This exercise hits the lower abdominal area and is also a great exercise to strengthen and lengthen the hip flexors, which play a vital role in core stability and strength. It is going to help with your hip mobility which will help with all different areas of your fitness journey, not just strengthening your abs.
- Lie faceup with your legs extended and hands at your sides or tucked underneath your hips for extra support.
- Slowly raise your legs, keeping them together and as straight as possible, until the soles of your shoes are facing the ceiling.
- Then, slowly lower your legs back down. Don’t let your feet touch the floor; instead, keep them hovering a few inches off. That’s 1 rep.
- As you do this move, make sure to keep your lower back flat on the floor. If you’re having a tough time doing that, don’t lower your legs as far.
Lower Ab Workout : Hanging Leg Raises
Lower abs exercises such as the hanging leg raise can give you the opportunity to identify your body’s unique areas of weakness and develop a workout to strengthen them.
- Stand in the frame with your arms resting on the arms of the chair. Grab on to the handles of the chair, if it has them.
- Check that your arm position is firm (you need to be able to lift your body weight from the floor).
- Inhale as you engage your abdominal muscles to prepare for the leg lift.
- Bend your knees and raise them upward until your quads are parallel to the ground.
- With an engaged core, exhale as you lower your legs in a controlled movement until you’re back in the starting position.
Oblique and Core Ab Workouts
Chances are the center of your midsection gets a little more love than the rest. Both men and women are guilty of skipping oblique exercises to focus on what’s front and center. Exercising your obliques (located on either side of the abdomen between your hip flexors and your lats) will translate to a sleeker midsection.
Oblique Abs Workout : Side Plank
The side plank is a great exercise for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked during ab exercises such as crunches.
- Lay on your side with your forearm flat on the floor, bottom elbow lined up directly under your shoulder
- Both legs extended out in a long line. Feet can either be staggered for more stability, or stacked for more of a challenge.
- Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor, forming a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Your top hand can be on your hip.
Oblique Abs Workout : Mountain Climber Twist
Mountain climbers are a great cardiovascular exercise that also works the core muscles, thighs, and buttocks. You are going to be utilizing your core because you are starting from a plank position. Mountain climber will also improve hip mobility and general flexibility. It requires less upper-body strength than a burpee. The cross-body version engages the oblique and hip abductor muscles.
- Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged.
- Engage your core and draw your right knee to your left elbow.
- Return to starting position and immediately draw your left knee to your right elbow.
- Continue to alternate, moving quickly.
- Make sure to keep your core engaged and back flat throughout. If you have to slow down to maintain form, that’s fine.
Obliques Ab Workout : Russian Twist
The Russian twist is a simple and effective way to tone your core, shoulders, and hips. It’s a popular exercise among athletes since it helps with twisting movements and allows you to quickly change direction.
- Sit on your sit bones as you lift your feet from the floor, keeping your knees bent.
- Elongate and straighten your spine at a 45-degree angle from the floor, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
- Reach your arms straight out in front, interlacing your fingers or clasping your hands together.
- Use your abdominals to twist to the right, then back to the center, and then to the left.
Core Abs Workout : Burpee
Burpees have a reputation for a reason. They’re one of the most effective-and crazy-challenging-exercises out there. And fitness buffs everywhere just love to hate them.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
- Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto your hands.
- Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
- Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
- Reach your arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air.
- Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.
Core Abs Workout : Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a dynamic, compound exercise, that works several muscles simultaneously. This move helps you burn off body fat while actively engaging your core, and increases your aerobic fitness, flexibility, and agility.
- Start in a traditional plank with your shoulders directly over your hands and wrists. Be sure to keep your back flat and your butt down, maintaining a neutral spine.
- Engage your core (think about pulling your belly button toward your spine) and lift up your right knee, bringing it toward your elbow. It’s OK if you can’t bring the knee all the way to your elbow. Return the right knee back to the starting position as you simultaneously drive your left knee up toward your left elbow. Return to the starting position.
- Continue switching legs and begin to pick up the pace until it feels like you’re “running” in place in a plank position.
- Continue “running” in your plank for 30 seconds. Repeat for a total of four rounds.
Core Abs Workout : Plank to Downward Dog
As yogis, we know there a few defining poses in yoga. The classic poses that we’re bound to do at least once in any given yoga sequence. Downward Dog and Plank Pose are two of those poses! Let’s also use this as our middle workout for abs.
- Start on your hands and knees. Keep your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Tuck your toes under and straighten your legs. Your core should be engaged, and don’t let your back sag or your shoulders scrunch up toward your ears. Relax your head and neck. You’re in Plank Pose.
- Press your hips and butt back. Push away slightly with your arms as you engage your core. You’ll be in an upside-down, V-shaped pose. This is the Downward Dog Pose.
Core Ab Workout : Plank
Holding the plank position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core. The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance. In addition, there are many progressions that can be done from a standard plank hold.
- Rest your forearms on the floor, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel.
- Extend your legs out behind you and rest your toes on the floor. Your body should form one straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
- Squeeze your entire core, your glutes, and your quads, and tuck your butt under a little to keep your lower back straight. Make sure you are not dropping your hips or hiking your butt up high toward the ceiling.
- Position your head so that your neck is in a neutral position and your gaze is on your hands.
- Hold this position.
Core Ab Workout : Abs Wheel Plank
An ab roller can cut belly fat in some ways. While no piece of equipment can spot reduce fat, incorporating an ab wheel to a consistent exercise routine, as well as maintaining a balanced diet and healthy sleeping patterns, can help flatten abdominal fats.
- Start on your knees in a modified push-up position with your hands on the ab wheel handles.
- Your arms should be fully extended.
- Once you have a good grip, lift your knees off the ground so that just the ab wheel and your toes are left on the ground.
- There should be a straight line from your head and neck to your ankles.
- Hold this position for 40 to 60 seconds.
Core Ab Workout : V Hold Toe Touches
The toe-touch crunch builds on the crunches, adding more engagement of your lower and upper abs. the toe touch exercise fully engages the abdominal wall and helps to tone your abs, trims down your waist, and strengthens your core. This exercise also helps to improve your posture, flexibility, and balance.
- Lie on the floor with your legs touching and extended in front of you, and your hands by your side.
- Lift your legs up as high as possible while at the same time bringing your torso toward them and reaching your hands toward your toes.
- Return to the start position and repeat the movement until you have completed your set.