Among all the muscles in our body, abs tend to be the superstar when we choose which group to focus on the most. After all, who has ever said that they’d prefer not to have a six-pack? It seems like there are a million and one gadgets and machines that are supposed to “work your abs.” But do you really need one?
There are enough effective exercises to give your abs a super workout without using anything more than your own body, although some extras, like stability balls or bars, can help you advance the intensity as you progress through your workout. We rounded up the best ab exercises that our experts feel are the best to specifically focus on the abs. You might not love how your abs feel immediately after giving these a first try, but you’ll definitely love how they look if you stick with these exercises.
Best Ab Exercises #1 | Stability Exercises
Starting with the basics, hold plank on your forearms and toes for 30 seconds keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels. Rest and then do it again. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can do a plank using a bosu or stability ball. You can lift and hold one leg or one arm off the ground. You can hold plank using a TRX, or you can walk your plank from side-to-side.
Best Ab Exercises #2 | Hanging Abs Raise
My favorite all time is the advanced hanging abs raise gymnasts do. You hang from a pull-up bar and you curl your legs forward while they are completely straight so your ankles/feet come all the way up to the bar. This is a very advanced exercise, but it’s also incredibly effective. Other honorable mentions include the abs wheel, abdominal cable curl, bosu ball crunches (while doing a reverse crunch with one leg on the side you are crunching), and advanced variations of the plank abs exercise.
– Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Best Ab Exercises #3 | Hanging Windshield Wipers
This is performed by holding onto a chin-up bar, bringing your legs up as high as you can so that they’re in front of your face and then going side to side like a “windshield wiper.” Other ab exercises I enjoy and that more people can typically do are landmine twists (which is a great anti-rotation movement), decline bench weighted sit-ups (with the weight over your head), Palloff presses and the ab wheel.
Best Ab Exercises #4 | Heavy-Weighted Crunch
If you’re looking for something a little more healthy, close runners up would be ab-wheel rollouts, hanging leg raises and bodyweight chin-ups. Over the years, I have also found that heavy front squats and explosive exercises such as hardstyle kettlebell swings also do the trick quite nicely.
Anytime your body is off the ground, your core and stabilizing muscles kick on hardcore. Doing strict chin-ups or leg raises will target your abs like whoah. Just make sure you are keeping your core tight and preventing your body from swinging as much as possible.
If you have access to an ab-wheel, I recommend starting there. They are not only good for training your low back (anti-extension) muscles but destroy your rectus abdominis as well. Add 3-5 sets of 10-15 ab wheel rollouts to the end of your workout and you will not enjoy laughing or sneezing for a week. You’re welcome.