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9 Ab Exercises to Transform Your Core

Fitness Editor
Dominic is a sports journalist and personal trainer and writes fitness articles for our magazine. He also makes free workout plans for our site.

Want to tone your midsection and slim away some belly fat? Check out our 9 effective ab exercises and free workout plan, and your ab workout will never be boring again!

Been doing your abs workout for a while now, but nothing’s showing yet? Don’t worry! Not all bodies ever show a six-pack. Strength is the keyword here. If you keep the following fundamentals in mind, you’ll be on the right track to a rock-solid core. What more could you wish for?

Effective Ab Training Basics

How fast you get a six pack depends on several factors, including your body fat percentage. All the best abs exercises won’t show the results you were hoping for if your body fat percentage is too high.

To make your dream of a defined abdomen come true, you need a daily calorie deficit. That means you take in fewer calories through your diet than you burn throughout the day. Wondering how to figure out which foods have what calories? We’ve made it easy with our calorie charts!

Once you maintain your optimal calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight almost without thinking about it. Of course, putting it into practice takes some planning and you’ll have to avoid pizza, pasta, cakes, and other unhealthy foods. Check out our healthy alternatives to unhealthy snacks.

At the same time it’s important to remember that extreme diets where your deficit is more than 500 calories per day are counterproductive in the long run. Your body switches to survival mode and starts burning fewer calories than normal. You’ll also probably feel very weak in that phase. But when you start to eat maintenance calorie amounts again, your body overreacts and immediately stores all the calories it can get as a reserve. This phenomenon is often called the yo-yo effect and it may result in an overall weight gain.

We’ve compiled a lot of delicious and healthy fitness recipes for you, so cooking, and especially eating, is fun, and you don’t feel like you’re dieting. It’s also good to keep an eye on your protein intake. Especially when you’re in a calorie deficit, a protein-rich diet is very important and helps maintain your muscles. And if you’re in a hurry, just go for one of our protein shakes.

Now you know what to do to lose weight and body fat. But to get those six-pack abs, you need to do some ab workouts as well. With the right abs exercises, you’ll train both your upper abs and the rest of your core muscles with simple exercises and just your body weight.

9 Abs Exercises for a Strong Upper Body

1. Superman Plank

A white man in front of a white background does a Superman plank indoors
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Difficult

Muscles trained:

Core, shoulders, hamstrings, coordination, and balance.

Pointers:

Upper and lower body must remain in a stable line during the whole movement.

2. High Knees

A white woman in black workout gear performs high knees ab exercises
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Simple

Muscles trained:

Ab muscles and hip flexors

Pointers:

Pull your legs up as high as you can. Keep your upper body vertical, core engaged and arms extended.

3. Russian Twist

A white woman performs a Russian twist with a weight plate on a black fitness mat.
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Difficult

Muscles trained:

Side abdominal muscles

Pointers:

Legs remain extended forward. Feet never touch the floor. Your torso remains straight.

4. Side Plank Hip Dips

A white woman holds a side plank and performs hip lifts
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Medium

Muscles trained:

Torso with focus on side abs and shoulder stability.

Pointers:

Pull up slowly with control instead of bobbing up and down with momentum.

5. Sit-ups

A skinny, toned white woman does situps on a black fitness mat. She holds her knees in a butterfly position and places her arms between her knees as she sits up.
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Medium

Muscles trained:

Frontal abs and hip flexors

Pointers:

Lie on your back and place your feet shoulder width, about far enough away from your hips to keep your knees bent at a right angle. Keep your back straight as you sit up and then return to the starting position.

6. Leg Raises

A white man lies on his back and performs leg raises
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Difficult

Muscles trained:

Frontal abs and hip flexors

Pointers:

Focus on keeping your abs engaged through the entire range of movement to avoid rounding your back. Keep your legs straight.

7. Plank Hip Dips

A white woman does a plank and lowers her hips to one side, then the other, while staying in the plank position.
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Easy

Muscles trained:

The entire torso, but especially your obliques.

Pointers:

Your hips don’t lie. We mean, uh, they should never touch the floor.

8. Crunch

A white man does crunches on a black fitness mat.
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Simple

Muscles trained:

Frontal abs

Pointers:

Curl yourself up with control and slowly lower instead of using momentum to complete the move. Your upper body lifts only a few inches off the floor. Don’t straighten it completely like you would in a sit-up.

9. Plank

A white woman does plank ab exercises on a black fitness mat.
©foodspring

Difficulty level:

Medium

Muscles trained:

The entire torso

Pointers:

Form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet in the plank position. Never lose tension in your core: this will help you avoid rounding your back.

In addition to effective ab exercise, proper nutrition is the basis of washboard abs. Want to take your fitness nutrition plan to the next level, but don’t know where to start? Our free Body Check not only calculates your BMI, but also gives you nutrition tips and product recommendations tailored to your fitness goals.

Core Muscles Workout Plan

The best exercises won’t do you any good if you don’t package them in a workout plan that provides the right motivation and structure. Get some inspiration here.

Conclusion

  • The best ab exercises won’t get you a six pack if your body fat percentage is too high.
  • Calorie deficits are crucial for effective weight loss.
  • Regular abdominal training is important for defined washboard abs.

More tips for effective core training from foodspring:

Article sources
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