Ab exercises (at least from my experience) are oftentimes the most dreaded part of any workout. Mostly everybody would love to have the chiseled summer bod abs, but far less are willing to go through the burn of developing such a figure. Not everybody has a gym membership, and with a lack of motivation, time and energy, many people tend to miss out on getting a good ab workout in. Luckily, I have a handful of gut-busting workouts you can try from the comfort of your own home!
Before starting, I recommend getting a yoga mat, towel, or some sort of cloth to lay down where you plan on doing your ab workouts.
1. Crunches/Sit Ups
Perhaps the most well known of all ab workouts, crunches and sit ups are both great ways to activate your central core muscles.
To do a cruncher rep, lay on your back with your legs bent with your feet flat on the ground. Your hands should be behind your head with your elbows pointed outward. From there, force your upper body upward until your shoulder blades are all the way off the ground, with your feet remaining flat. To challenge yourself even more, elevate your legs (still bent) at a 90-degree angle with your feet hooked at the ankles — this will force you to really work your core without the leverage and support of your legs on the ground — and crunch up until your elbows meet your knees.
A sit-up is very similar to basic crunches with your feet on the ground, except instead of a slight crunch, you sit all the way up (hence its name) until your able to hug your legs (don’t actually do that though).
We go from one of the more well-known ab workouts to perhaps the most disliked ab workout of all. As hated as they may be, planks work your entire core and is an excellent workout that can help improve your posture.
If there were a way to sum up a plank, I’d say they’re basically push-ups that you never come down from. Instead of holding yourself up on your palms, bend your arms at a 90-degree angle so your body is supported by your forearms. Keep a strong push-up position with your back and legs straight, and hold yourself up.
And hold, and hold, and hold…
Start by timing yourself to a few 20 to 30-second planks as you start out, and eventually push yourself to plank for a full minute or more. Your arms will surely tremble and sweat will no doubt bead your face, but as long as your back and legs stay as stiff as a plank, those burning abs will, too!
3. Russian Twists
Russian twists are a fun ab workout that requires a lot of motion and torque in order to feel the burn in your core.
Sitting in an upright position, lift your legs at least six inches off the ground and cross them at the ankles. Your hands should be together, usually in closed fists or meshed by your fingers. The last step is the twisting motion. Use your core and back to remain upright and twist your upper body back and forth, with the goal of reaching your opposite elbow to your opposite thigh with each repetition.
And whatever you do, don’t let your feet touch the ground!
4. Flutter/Scissor Kicks
Flutter and Scissor kicks are tough ab workouts that are all about leg movement in order to work your lower core.
Laying on your back, you’ll want to elevate your legs so your feet are about six inches off the ground. All you’ll have to do after that is flip your feet (not your whole leg) back and forth vertically, creating light kicks in the air. Think of it as if you’re swimming and flipping your feet in the water.
You’ll have the same base position with scissor kicks, except this time use your legs to cross each other horizontally, creating a scissor-like motion.
Many people tend to have their hands under their butts while they do this exercise to make it a little easier but to push yourself, definitely have your hands down to your side to really make you use your abdominal muscles as you kick and flutter.
5. Bicycle Kicks
Another ab workout that involves some kicking action, except with a bit more of the actual “kick.” Bicycle kicks are another workout that tests your ab strength, particularly your upper abs.
Bicycle kicks are very similar to crunches, and in fact, can also be called bicycle crunches. In a cruncher position on with your legs raised at 90 degrees, hands behind your head and elbows out, you’ll then want to pedal your legs through one at a time, almost as if you’re, get this, actually riding a bike. As you pedal your legs, you’ll want to crunch, and as you come up, you’ll want to touch your opposite elbow to the opposite knee that comes up.
Bicycle kicks are also similar to Russian twists in the sense that both workouts generate constant movement and rotations that really make you feel the burn the more reps you pump out!
6. 6-inch Holds
Another one of the dreaded, yet effective, ab workouts out there. 6-inch holds, like flutter and scissor kicks, are lower ab killers.
This workout is pretty straight forward: simply lay on your back, arms either underneath you or out to the side, and lift your legs up to approximately 6 inches off the ground.
And hold, and hold, and hold…
Like planks, try to start yourself with multiple 20 to 30 second holds before you take on the daring task of fighting through a whole minute or more of 6-inch hell.
Everyone’s favorite! Penguins are likely the least stressful on the abs out of all the workouts on this list and are seen as a sort of unofficial “break” in the workout, but make no mistake, with enough reps your obliques will be torched tomorrow.
Laying on your back with your feet on the ground and legs bent, you’ll want to keep your arms straight and at your sides. When you’re all set, you’ll use your core (NOT your shoulders) to turn your upper body from side to side, which will allow you to reach an arm down toward the inside heel of your foot, which should be your target as you go from side to side. To make things more difficult, consider trying to reach for the opposite heel if you can.
This ab workout is literally just you on your back trying to waddle like a… you know…
8. Leg Lifts
This ab workout is the complete opposite of a sit-up. A 180. A sit up for your legs. That’s what leg lifts are in a nutshell.
To do these, you’ll lay on your back with your arms to your sides (or underneath you if you have to cheat a little). Your feet are allowed to start on the ground for this one but aren’t allowed to touch again until you get through your set. Once they are off the ground, you’ll use your core strength to muscle your legs up into the air to form a 90-degree angle; the bottom of your feet should be facing the sky. On the way back down your feet should come within an inch of touching the ground, where you’ll hold them until you bring your legs up again for your next rep.
Keeping your feet from touching the ground during this exercise is what works your abdominals, otherwise, you’re kind of just swinging your legs up and down for fun, really.
9. Toe Touches
Leg lifts are a great Segway into this next ab workout.
For this workout, all you have to do is take your leg lift and hold it in the air, making sure to try and keep your legs as straight as possible. From there, it becomes a sort of cruncher, with you extending your arms upward in an attempt to touch your…
You can guess what you’re trying to touch, right?
Last, and what many people wish was least, we have the almighty V-Up. I’m not going to lie, these ones suck. I’m not a fan of this ab workout, but you definitely feel your abs burn doing it, so it has to be doing something right.
A V-Up is a tough ab workout that combines a sit up, a leg lift and a toe touch all into one. You’re basically trying to sit up at the same time you’re doing a leg lift while doing a toe touch (hopefully that makes sense?)
You start by laying on your back, arms laid out straight above your head with your legs straight as well. Then, in one motion, you shoot your upper body (the sit up part) while you shoot your lower body up (the leg lift) and reach your hands for the tips of your toes (the toe touch). If you do this correctly, your body will be in the shape of the letter V.
Three different actions. All for one rep, with 19 more to go. Yikes.
Doing ab workouts can be the most unlikable part of a workout for some (believe me I know), but the multiple benefits that having a strong core can bring you such as better body posture, improved balance, and faster-running speed more than makeup for it.
On top of all these benefits, ab workouts help tone your abs and burn fat, and with spring break and summer not too far down the line, who wouldn’t want to get a little six-pack going before heading out to the beach?
With that being said, you’re the comfort of your own home, dorm, or wherever you may stay away from taking these workouts and putting them to action. Turn up the music, grab some water and a towel and get ready to feel the burn today!
Did you enjoy any of these ab workouts? Am I missing your favorite exercise? Did these ab workouts help you see any results? Let me know in the comment section below!