Ready to tone and strengthen your entire lower body, and get a healthy dose of core work, too? I’ve totally got you covered. This circuit workout is designed to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and abs in just five moves.

I’ve also thrown in some unilateral exercises (drills that target one side of your body at a time) to help you build strength evenly—trust me, this is crucial. What’s more, you don’t need any equipment for this workout—but don’t worry, you’ll still feel the burn. Plus, it’s going to prep you to take on more challenging lower body moves, like weighted squats and deadlifts. Now, ready to get started?

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: Mat

Good for: Lower body and abs

Instructions: Complete 10 reps for each move, then immediately continue to the next exercise. Once you’ve finished all five moves, repeat the circuit over from the beginning. Do a total of three rounds. To build strength, I recommend doing this routine one or two times a week, and warming up with a few dynamic stretches first.

Bridge Hip Cook Lift

How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hug your right leg toward your chest and hold onto that knee. Engage your glutes and lift your hips up until your left thigh forms a straight line with your back. Lower down to the mat. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on each side, then continue to the next move.

Bodyweight Squat

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees, sit your hips back, and lower your body down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Bring your arms forward as you lower down to keep your torso upright. Rise back up to start, squeezing your glutes and the top, and bringing your arms to your sides. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps, then continue to the next move.

Reverse Lunge

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Lift your right foot and take a step backward. Lower down until your back knee nearly touches the floor, keeping your hips squared forward the entire time. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on each side, then continue to the next move.

Split-Stance Hinge With Reach

How to: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Slide your right foot back two steps behind you and raise your heel to balance on the ball of your foot, almost like a kickstand. Hinge forward at your hips with a flat back until your torso is parallel to the floor while extending your arms forward until your biceps are by your ears. Then return to standing. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on each side, then continue to the next move.

Lateral Squat

How to: Start with your feet wider than your hips and your knees and toes pointing forward. (Slightly turning your feet out to 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock is okay too, if it feels more comfortable). Shift your weight into your right heel, push your hips back, and bend that knee while leaving your left leg straight. Try to get your thigh parallel to the floor. You can bring your arms in front of you as a counter balance or clasp them at your chest. Then, drive through your right foot to reverse the movement. Pause at the top to squeeze your glutes and stretch the front of your hips forward. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps, then repeat the circuit from the top, for three rounds total.

Like this workout? You’ll LOVE Betina’s full get-strong plan. Get it by downloading the All/Out Studio App, which also features other WH favorite trainers.

Kristine Thomason Fitness & Wellness Editor Kristine Thomason is the fitness & wellness editor at Women’s Health, where she edits, writes, and helps oversee the food and fitness sections of the website and magazine.

When you’re short on time but still want to get your strength training in, a workout that challenges multiple parts of your body can come in clutch. And what better combination than one that’ll smoke your abs and your glutes?

Related Story

Building a strong core and glutes are vital for cyclists, since they will improve your speed and help you power up hills and crush inclines, explains Lindsey Clayton, instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project.

This abs and butt workout created by Clayton will challenge your core and glute strength, while also improving your balance—also important for strong climbs.

If you are a beginner, you can complete this circuit using just your bodyweight. More advanced? This circuit can be made more challenging by adding weights for the sumo squat, deadlift, and glute bridge, or adding a mini-band around the legs or ankles.

How to do it: Perform each move for one minute, focusing on one side at a time for the unilateral moves. (For the deadlift, kickback, lever crunch, and glute bridge, you will work your right side through the first round of the circuit). Rest for 30 seconds after you finish the right side. Then start over and perform the circuit again, using your left side for the unilateral exercises.

Sumo Squat

Put your arms in front of you, with hands in a prayer position. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out to the sides. Squat a few inches, pressing your glutes back as you lift your arms out to the sides. Lift your heels and balance on the balls of your feet, deepening your squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Pause, then lower your heels and rise back to the start position. For an extra burn, you can pulse at the bottom.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Stand tall with both feet on the ground, arms at sides. Shift weight to left leg, hinge forward from the hips, allow left knee to bend slightly, and lower torso to the floor, as right leg lifts behind you. Hinge forward as far as comfortably possible while maintaining a straight back and proper form. In a controlled manner, return to the starting position. Repeat.


Start on all fours, knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Keeping back flat, extend right leg straight out. Then, bring right knee in, hovering just above the floor. Repeat.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Lie faceup, knees bent, feet planted, arms down by sides on the floor. Lift left leg up toward the ceiling, so that both knees are aligned. Engage glutes as you lift hips up, driving through right heel. Lower back to the floor, then repeat.

Lever Crunch

Begin by lying faceup with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet firmly on the ground. Crunch up, and at the same time, straighten your left leg and lift it off the ground. Reach diagonally for your left foot with your right arm. Return to starting position and repeat.

Bicycle Crunches

Lie faceup with both hands behind head, elbows wide, and legs in tabletop position with knees over hips. Peel right shoulder off mat to bring right elbow toward left knee, as you extend right leg straight. Reverse to draw left elbow to right knee as you extend left leg straight. Continue alternating.

Jordan Smith Digital Editor Her love of all things outdoors came from growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and her passion for running was sparked by local elementary school cross-country meets.

7 Benefits of Doing Squats and Variations to Try

The list of squat benefits is lengthy, but to summarize and point out the top picks, here are seven key benefits of doing squats.

1. Strengthens your core

Having strong core muscles can make everyday movements like turning, bending, and even standing easier. Not only that, but a strong core can improve your balance, ease pain in your low back, and also make it easier to maintain good posture.

A 2018 study that compared core muscle activation during a plank with back squats found that back squats resulted in greater activation of the muscles that support your back.

Based on these findings, the researchers recommended targeting the core muscles with back squats to reduce the risk of injury and to boost athletic performance.

2. Reduces the risk of injury

When you strengthen the muscles in your lower body, you’re better able to execute full-body movements with correct form, balance, mobility, and posture.

Plus, incorporating squats in your overall workout routine also helps strengthen your tendons, ligaments, and bones, which, according to the American Council on Exercise, may help reduce your risk of injury.

3. Crushes calories

Calorie burning is often equated with aerobic exercises such as running or cycling. But performing high-intensity, compound movements like the squat can also crush some serious calories.

For example, according to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person can burn approximately 223 calories doing 30-minutes of vigorous strength or weight training exercises, like squats.

4. Strengthens the muscles of your lower body

Your lower body boasts some of your largest and most powerful muscles.

From getting out of bed, to sitting down in a chair, your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and calves are responsible for almost every move you make.

Strength training exercises like squats can help strengthen and tone the muscles in your lower body. When these muscles are in good condition, you may find that you can move more comfortably, with less pain, and that everything from walking to bending to exercising is easier to do.

5. Boosts athletic ability and strength

If you compete in a sport, adding jump squats to your workout may help you develop explosive strength and speed which, in turn, may help improve your athletic performance.

A 2016 study investigated the effects of jump squat training done 3 times a week over the course of 8 weeks.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers concluded that jump squat training has the ability to improve several different athletic performances simultaneously, including sprint time and explosive strength.

6. Variety helps with motivation

Once you master the basic squat, there are many different types of squat variations you can try. Changing up your squats can help keep the exercise interesting, while also activating different muscle groups.

Squats can be done with just your body weight. They can also be done with weights, like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or medicine balls, or with resistance bands or yoga balls.

7. Can be done anywhere

To do bodyweight squats, you don’t need any equipment. All you need is your body and enough room to lower your hips into a sitting position.

And, if you’re pressed for time, you can still benefit many muscle groups by doing 50 squats a day: Try doing 25 in the morning and 25 at night. As you get stronger, add 25 to the afternoon.

7 Reasons Why You Should Do Squats Every Day

Some fitness experts recommend the squat as the one exercise people should do every day if they had no time for anything else. “50 squats a day will keep the doctor away—seriously,” Dr. Christopher Stepien, a sports therapist and chronic pain expert said. “Daily squats will help you mentally and will even give you better yearly check-ups with your primary physician.”

The most obvious benefit of squats is building your leg muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. These drills also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building, improving muscle mass.

Squats, and all of their variations, are a great exercise for the whole body. This is a good move if you want to burn fat.

The squats also activate you glutes and back muscles. Remember to upgrade them as soon as they start to feel comfortable. Do jump squats, goblet squats, pistol squats or plie squats.

Squats are many people’s favorite exercise for building muscle. They are always recommended to people who want to stay fit as they get older.

If you are new to working out, start easy and use a chair for support if you need. Keep your arms in front of you. Don’t extend your knees past your toes. Stay in this position for a few seconds. Do this for a minute and don’t rush.

But there are other reasons to do squats every time you hit the gym. Ivy Karlinsky, personal trainer at Transform 180 Training, created the following list.

Stronger joints

When performed properly, the load applied to the squat is great for not only building muscle strength but also engaging the ankle, knee and hip joints all at the same time and making them stronger.

Do other stuff better

How often do you have to lift something or get up from a seated position? Every day. People who squat are stronger in their activities of daily living, and are more likely to stay mobile later into life.

Get better elsewhere

If you are cross training (and you should be) squats are a perfect powerhouse. Almost all cardio and sports involve the lower body. By having a more powerful system, you can run and play longer, harder and faster.

You can do them anywhere

Sure, it’s great to do them with weight, but you can do bodyweight squats anywhere, anytime so you can stay in shape at home or on vacation.

Never get bored

There are endless variations of squats and ways to keep you challenged, the only limit is your imagination.

Work on that core

Squats can help with strengthening the core, but the relationship goes both ways. Squat more, have a stronger core. Have a stronger core – squat better.

Look good

Last but not least, squatting is definitely bound to help you shape those legs and build a stronger booty. Squats target the glute and inner thigh muscles. Open your legs wide to the side. Your toes should be pointing outward as well. Bend you knees as low as you can. Stay in a straight vertical line, please. Hold that position for a few seconds. Get back up and repeat 10-15 times.

More readings:

The Most Common Workout Moves You’re Doing Wrong (and How to Fix Them)

Best Exercises for New and Busy Moms

Physical Therapists’ Advice to Manage Pain at Home

The 4-Week Dumbbell Workout Plan Part 3: Legs And Abs

With these dumbbell legs and abs exercises, you’ll not only hammer your legs, abs, core, but you’ll also boost your total-body stability and strength.

PART 2: The 4-Week Dumbbell Workout Plan Part 2: Arms

PART 1: The 4-Week Dumbbell Workout Plan Part 1: Chest And Back

Workout 3: Legs And Abs (Week 1)

1A Squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Keeping your chest up and core braced, squat down as deep as you can.
  • Push back up through your heels to return to the start position.

Why: It’s the classic lift for building bigger and stronger legs and because it’s a big compound lift that recruits multiple muscle groups, it’s also effective at torching belly fat too.

1B Woodchop

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Stand holding a dumbbell in both hands to one side.
  • Squat down then stand back up while raising the weight up and across your body until it’s above your shoulder.
  • Reverse the movement.
  • Do all the reps then switch sides.

Why: It’s not as well known as other abs exercises, but do it right and you will build muscle across your entire core, as well as working your shoulders and lower back.

2A Lunge

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • With your chest up and core braced, take a big step forward with one foot until both knees are bent 90°, then push off your front foot to return to the start.
  • Do all the reps with one leg, then switch.

Why: The lunge provides many of the same benefits as the squat but with even more core-sculpting advantages because your abs must work overtime to keep your body stable as you lower and raise.

2B Halo

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of your face.
  • Raise it and move it around your head in a clockwise direction.
  • Do all the reps, then repeat in an anti-clockwise direction.

Why: It will work your abs, which must be fully braced and engaged to keep your torso stable and upright, and it will improve the strength and mobility of your delicate shoulder joints for added injury-prevention benefits.

Related article: 8 Mistakes That Are Keeping Your Calves Small

3A Goblet squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Stand tall holding one end of a dumbbell with both hands.
  • Squat down, keeping your back straight and core braced, until the weight almost touches the group.
  • Stand back up to return to the start.

Why: At this point of the session your legs will already be close to fatigue but this move, with a single dumbbell as resistance, will tax a few more muscle fibres for growth and keep your heart rate high for fat-loss benefits.

3B Crunch

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How to:

  • Lie flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell across your chest.
  • Engage your abs, then raise your torso off the floor.
  • Squeeze your abs at the top, then lower yourself slowly and under control.

Why: The crunch is great for developing your upper abs, but only if you do it right. And the added resistance of the dumbbell will force those muscles to up their game to lift and lower your torso without help from momentum.

Dumbbell Abs Workout For A Solid Core

There’s nothing more frustrating than heading to the gym all pumped for your workout, only to get there and discover it’s jammed to the rafters. Whether it’s because fellow lifters are using the dumbbells you want or they’ve been left in the furthest corners of the cardio section, you can’t always guarantee you’ll find the pair you need. But a busy gym needn’t be the end of the road in your journey towards a leaner, stronger and more impressive physique.

The solution? A one-dumbbell routine that hits every muscle in your all-important core, allowing you to blitz your obliques, abs and back with a handful of carefully-selected moves. And if worse comes to worst and all the dumbbells are in use, you can do this workout with a weight plate or kettlebell.

How to do 
the workout

Do the following five moves in order, performing 15 reps of a lift then moving on to the next one without rest. After the final move, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat. Do six circuits in total. Make the circuit easier with a lighter dumbbell, or harder with a heavier one.


Beginner: 8kg
Intermediate: 12kg
Advanced: 16kg

RECOMMENDED: The 4-Week Dumbbell Workout Plan To Build Muscle At Home


Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Bend from the hips to lower the weight between your legs, then push your hips forward to raise it up to shoulder height. Reverse back down to the start.

Why? This is a take on the classic kettlebell swing that offers all the same benefits. The hip hinge that forms the basis of this move is one of the core foundational bodyweight movements that you should work on mastering before beginning any weight training programme.

Side bend

Stand tall, holding the dumbbell in one hand. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight – this will hit your obliques. Complete all the reps, then switch hands and repeat.

Why? Most abs routines veer too far down the crunch route, leading to an imbalance whereby the obliques are not developed enough. This exercise is one of the best for targeting the latter. Strong obliques provide a foundation of rotational strength, vital for those who play contact sports or are in physical/manual occupations.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Obliques Exercises For A Strong Core


Squat, holding the weight in both hands to one side. Raise it across your body to head height, then back down. Do all the reps, then switch sides.

Why? Another excellent oblique-targeting move, this also improves your body’s co-ordination and core strength because you need to resist rotating the torso.


Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent, holding the dumbbell to your chest with both hands. Use your upper abs to raise your torso, then lower slowly to the start.

Why? The crunch is the true test of fundamental core strength and provides great stimulation to the abdominals. The only way to increase its difficulty is to add weight, and the dumbbell crunch does this perfectly. Pick a weight you can perform eight to ten reps with, and initiate through the abs muscles themselves, not the hip flexors.

RECOMMENDED: Crunch Exercises for Building a Six-Pack

Russian twist

Start at the top of the crunch but with your feet off the ground. Rotate back and forth, keeping your abs braced. A twist to one side then the other counts as one rep.

Why? The elevated position of the feet in this exercise places enormous strain on both the upper and lower abs, which are typically a tricky area to stimulate. The twisting movement involves the obliques also which you will find invaluable when stabilising the body on heavy, compound lifts.

Traditional abs moves typically have you posted up on the floor, crunching and planking for that burn, but that’s not the only way to work your abs. Believe it or not, you can actually strengthen them without dedicating a single minute of your workout to abs-only moves. It’s all about those compound exercises, or moves that work several muscle groups at once, explains Erica Villani, a master trainer at Crunch. “By nature, compound movements involve the entire body, and the core is the center of gravity in stabilizing all of the muscles in order to perform the movement properly,” she explains.

So while you might be focusing on your butt, legs, or back, they’re actually standing abs exercises, too—if you’re engaging your core properly. The key is to brace your abs during these movements to fire up your core, like you were preparing for a punch to the gut. “Bracing in these movements is absolutely crucial to performing them properly. tightens your abdominal wall, which will force your abs to do a lot of the work, causing the muscles to get stronger,” says Villani. No crunches required.

You can tell you’re working your abs during compound exercises like these if your core starts to feel fatigued, says Vallani. “If you don’t feel it in your abs, try also squeezing your glutes, too. Often times, this puts the hips in place so you can adequately fire up your abdominal muscles.” You can also do a form check and make sure you’re doing the move right, or check in to make sure your abs are braced. You may also notice that you can get deeper into the moves with your core powering you (which also allows you to move through your hips properly), says Villani. This means your other muscles (like your legs or butt) can get more out of the moves, too. Win-win.

Here are five exercises that focus on your butt and legs while giving your abs a serious workout, too. Once you’ve got the moves down, you can even set them up into a workout. Villani suggests doing a set of 10 reps of each move, followed by a set of 9 reps, then 8 reps, etc., until you’re down to 5 reps each.

Leg Raises: Build Strong Abs And Core Muscles

If you have so much as a passing interest in building a rock-solid core or sculpting a six-pack, you’ll probably have heard by now that sit-ups and crunches aren’t the best way to go about achieving this. There are a few reasons for that, but one of the biggest is that they do little to work your lower abs, so even if you do sit-ups every day you’re more likely to end up with a four-pack than the full six.

Fortunately, there are plenty of effective lower abs exercises out there you can use to round out your core routine, and one of the very best of them is the leg raise. It’s a simple but savagely effective exercise that often feels easy on the first rep and then entirely impossible by rep ten.

As well as working your lower abs, the leg raise also improves the strength and flexibility of your hips and lower back, which is a considerable benefit for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting at a desk.

Read on for our complete guide to how to pull off the perfect leg raise. Once you’ve mastered it, move on to the challenging variations that you can use to confirm your status as a lower-limb-lifting legend.

How To Do Leg Raises

Start by lying down on the floor or a mat. Unfortunately, it gets tougher from here. Lay flat with your arms at your sides and legs stretched out next to each other, then raise those legs. Even if you can’t hold them perfectly rigid, keep your legs as straight as possible, and lift them until they are pointing at the ceiling, or as near as you can get. Make sure your toes are pointed.

Then lower them back down, being careful to keep your movements measured. The return journey should be at the same pace at which you raised your legs. Lower them until they’re hovering just above the ground, and then raise them again. Shoot for three sets of 10 reps, or simply do as many raises as you can – keeping the pace steady – in a set time as part of a circuit.

If you’re struggling to do even 10 traditional leg raises, you can make the movement a bit easier by bending your legs at right angles when you lift. Once your thighs are perpendicular to your body, try and straighten your legs to point at the ceiling.

A good way to ensure you’re keeping your movements steady, and test your leg-raising abilities, is to set a metronome running and do the exercise in time with the beat. At 50bpm, you should lift on one beat and lower on the second. Try and stick with the beat for a minute, rest for 30 seconds and do it again.

Leg Raise Variations

Single leg raise

As explained above, one way to make the leg raise easier is to bend your knees during the movement, but another less taxing variation is to lift one limb at a time. Keeping one leg grounded will help stabilise your body as you raise the other leg, so you can focus on perfecting your form.

Medicine ball leg raise

Add an extra challenge for your abs, hips and adductors (the insides of your thighs) by gripping a medicine ball between your feet.

Weighted leg raise

As with most exercises, you can make the leg raise tougher by introducing some weight. With this variation you hold a dumbbell or sandbell between your feet as you perform the exercise. Keep the weight light, because it really doesn’t take much to make the leg raise very challenging indeed, and also you don’t want a heavy dumbbell to slip when you’re holding it with legs fully extended above your crotch.

Leg raise on dip station

If you’re looking to take your leg raises airborne but aren’t quite ready to try the hanging leg raise yet, head for the dip station. You’ll work your core all the harder to keep your torso still, and your arms and shoulders get a workout as well. Supporting yourself on both arms, which should be extended and by your sides, raise your legs straight out in front of you, then slowly lower them again. If this is proving too tough then you can bend your legs and bring your knees up instead.

Hanging leg raise

About as tough as leg raising gets, this variation involves hanging from a pull-up bar or gymnastic rings while you raise your legs until they are parallel to the ground. Once again, you can start by bending your legs and raising your knees to your chest as a way of working up to the full exercise, and it’s also worth trying some dead hangs first to ensure you have the upper-body and grip strength to hold yourself up while leg raising.

If you follow personal trainer and Fit Body app creator Anna Victoria on Instagram, you already know her abs are #goals. And Anna is happy to share all her go-to moves for stomach-sculpting and getting strong all over (she has tons of great ab workouts on her app, FYI). In fact, below she shares her 15 favorite moves—many of which have helped her clients totally transform their core.

In order to see those types of results it’s important to train your abs from every angle. There are four main muscle groups in your midsection: your transverse abdominis, TVA for short ( deep stabilizers that wrap around your stomach like a corset), rectus abdominis (i.e. your six pack, the outer most layer of your abs), and the internal and external obliques, which you use every time you do moves that make your rotate your torso side to side.

If your goal is to get abs fast, then it’s important to do a combination of exercises that’ll target all these different areas in your abdominal wall like the ones on the list below. In addition to instructions on how to do each move, straight from Anna herself, you’ll also find info on what specific areas of your abs they target. Just pick a few ab exercises from the list below and turn them into the ultimate ab workout.

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: None

Good for: Abs, core

Instructions: Choose three moves below. For each move, do 15 reps, then continue to the next move. Repeat the entire three-move circuit two to three times.

1. Assisted Reverse Side Situp

How to: Start lying on left side, resting most of weight on left hip, with legs in the air at a 45-degree angle, and place left forearm on the floor for support. Bend knees as you bring them toward chest, and lift chest to meet them. Lower back to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps on each side.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

2. Bent Leg V-Up

How to: Start lying on back with legs in air and bent at 90-degrees (shins parallel to floor) and hands clasped over chest. In one movement, straighten legs and lift torso up, extending arms and trying to touch toes with hands. Lower back down to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: six-pack abs and transverse abs

3. Alternating Toe Reach

How to: Start lying on back with legs extended in air at 45-degree angle and arms straight out to sides on floor at shoulder level. At the same time, raise right leg up and lift torso trying to touch toes with left hand. Return to start and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

4. Leg Raise and Reach Clap

How to: Start lying on back with legs lifted in air at 45-degree angle and arms by side pressing into mat. Without letting lower back lift off floor, raise legs to hip level while curling upper body off floor and bringing hands to clap behind knees. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: six-pack abs and transverse abs

5. Lying Windshield Wipers

How to: Start sitting on tailbone with upper body propped up on forearms and legs lifted in the air and rotated toward top right corner of mat. Slowly, and without moving upper body, make a half circle with legs, arching up and over until the come to hover at top left corner of mat. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: six-pack abs, obliques, transverse abs

6. Russian Twist

How to: Start seated on the floor balancing on tailbone with legs bent and elevated so shins are parallel to floor, with ankles crossed, hands clasped at chest and torso leaned back and rotated to left side. Squeeze your abs muscles and rotate your upper body to the right side. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

7. Side-To-Side Crunch

How to: Start lying on back, with knees bent, feet flat on ground, arms by sides, shoulder blades and head curled forward off mat. Without lovering your chest, reach your right hand to your right foot, return to start and quickly repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques

8. Side Plank Dips

How to: Start in a left side plank with left forearm on the floor, parallel to top of mat, elbow under shoulder, right hand on hips, and right leg stacked on top of left. Lower hips toward the ground a couple inches, then come back up to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps on each side.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

9. Side Plank and Reach Through

How to: Start in a left side plank with left forearm on the floor, parallel to top of mat, elbow under shoulder, right arm extended straight in air at shoulder level, and right leg stacked on top of left. Engage core and slowly rotate chest down toward floor while bringing right arm under and across body chest. (Gaze follows fingers.) Raise back to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps on each side.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

10. Toe Reach

How to: Start lying on back with legs extended straight toward ceiling at hip level, upper body resting on mat, and arms clasped in front of chest. Using lower abs, curl torso up off floor and reach hands toward toes. Lower back to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: six-pack abs and transverse abs

11. Plank

How to: Get into a low plank by starting on all fours then lowering down onto your forearms, keeping elbows under shoulders, and extending legs out behind body, balancing on balls of feet and forming a straight line from head to heels. Gaze slightly in front of your face, engage abs, and hold for 30 seconds.

Good for: transverse abs

12. Plank With Hip Dip

How to: Start in a forearm plank position. Engage abs, squeeze butt, and slowly dip right hip to right side but stop just before the touch the floor. Reverse the movement and repeat on the left side. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

13. Cross Mountain Climbers

How to: Start in a high plank position with your arms straight and your body in a straight line from your head to heels. Bring your right knee toward the left elbow. Return to the starting position and then pull your left knee toward your right elbow. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

14. Bicycle Crunch

How to: Start lying on back with left knee pulled toward chest, right leg extended in air at 45-degree angle, shoulder blades and head curled off mat, hands behind head with elbows wide, and torso rotated toward left knee. Reverse the position of legs while rotating torso toward right knee. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: obliques and transverse abs

15. Deadbug

How to: Start lying on back with arms extended straight over chest and legs lifted in the air and bent at 90-degree angles. Maintaining contact between low back and floor, brace core, then slowly and simultaneously straighten and lower right leg until heel nearly touches floor and left arm until hand nearly touches floor overhead. Pause, then return to start and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

Good for: transverse abs

Need more inspo? It’sTransformations Week on! For more amazing beauty, fitness, and weight loss transformations, check out the rest of our Transformations Week collection.

Kristine Thomason Fitness & Wellness Editor Kristine Thomason is the fitness & wellness editor at Women’s Health, where she edits, writes, and helps oversee the food and fitness sections of the website and magazine.

Squats: The secret to strong abs

Doing squats is not just about building muscle and strengthening your legs. It’s also about giving your abs the extra kick and improving core strength and definition. In this article we want to explain the important role squats play in core conditioning and reveal why squatting is the secret to achieving a strong set of abs.

Why squats give your abs the extra kick?

Have you ever had the feeling of tiredness in your abs after hitting a long and intense squat workout? When performing a squat, your abs and core face constant tension. Before going from the standing position into the squat, your abs build up tension in the lower part of your upper body. This tension prevents you from falling over, so you don’t bend like you would reaching for your toes. Keeping this tension is hard work for your abs which is why a long lasting squat workout can be an effective replacement for an isolated ab workout.

Which muscles are used to keep your upper body upright?

When doing a squat, especially extensor muscles, lateral and straight abdominal muscles as well as your lower back muscles allow your upper body to remain in a straight position. You can see all the muscles that are engaged during a squat here:

How do I perform a proper squat?

Be it upper body weight or a loaded barbell, your abs and core are the decisive muscles to hold your upper body in a straight and upright position. Also, the upright position of your upper body avoids your back being seriously injured. Here, it’s important to remind yourself of the fact: form is everything. Refresh your memory and watch the instruction video on how to perform a proper squat with a barbell in your Freeletics Gym App or read our article on Squats without weights with Freeletics Bodyweight.

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So remember: squats will not only increase the strength in your legs, but will give your abs an added training session, too. Besides doing isolated ab exercises such as crunches and sit-ups, it is also important to train your abs and core with functional movements like squats. Therefore, consider squats as a chance to make your abs stronger and more appealing.

The goblet pause squat is what I call a “money” exercise. Here’s why:

1. It builds the bottom of your squat like a champ.
And once you own the bottom of the exercise, you own everything else in between.

2. It’s easy on the joints—but super challenging to your muscles.
Holding the weight in front of you provides a counter-balance that allows you to stay more upright. This is easier on the back and knees, and makes your core, upper back, and quads work harder.

Related: The 10 Best Exercises for a Flat Belly

3. It can be done almost anywhere.
The dumbbell version is a lot more accessible than the barbell version. (Although the barbell front squats is one of my favorite exercises, too.)

How to Do it
In the video above, you’ll see me battling through the last 15 seconds of a 30-second isometric hold. I did this after doing 5 sets of a high number of reps. For those, I usually select a weight I can goblet squat for at least 10 reps. Here I was using 100-pound dumbbell.

You really want to focus on pushing your knees out, sitting tall, and crunching your abs. The turbulence on your core and shoulder muscles is epic.

Besides adding an additional iso-hold to end a workout, you can also start your workout this way, using a lighter load of course. It will mobilize all the key joints that need attention like your ankles, hips, and upper back, and activate your hip, shoulder, and core muscles.

You can even add a 1 to 5 second pause to the bottom of each rep of a given set or multiple sets to stimulate more muscle gain for your lower body. It definitely makes a lighter weight go a longer way.

I recommend trying every option. That’s because they all work and you need to find out what your body responds to best and what it needs the most right now. Are you game? Send this to someone who wants their abs to explode on their next leg day.

And make sure to check out the Men’s Health Instagram feed, where you’ll find other exciting fitness content like workouts, tips, and inspiration.

BJ Gaddour BJ Gaddour serves as the Fitness Director for the Men’s Health brand.

What Are the Best Exercises for Six Pack Abs?

While diet plays an important factor in getting those “six-pack” abs, there are a few exercises that will work out your abdominal muscles without you ever having to do one single stomach crunch. One of the best ways to strengthen and define your abdominal muscles and hopefully leave you with a six pack to show off, without doing stomach crunches, is to focus on full-body exercises. Full body exercises force you to use your abs in a way that they were designed – as stabilizer muscles. Here a four basic, but effective exercises that will help get you on your way to the perfect six pack.

The Deadlift

The deadlift is a grueling exercise. Ask any of our Personal Trainers to help you with proper form to insure that you are performing it correctly. Deadlift refers to the lifting of dead (without momentum) weight, such as weights lying on the ground. It is one of the few standard weight training exercises in which all repetitions begin with dead weight. If the exercise is done properly you should strengthen most of the muscles in your entire body, including your abdominals. Your abs, in this exercise, act as stabilizer muscles. In order for the deadlift to utilize your abs, you have to maintain proper form. Your abs will get an incredible workout. Instead of doing stomach crunches, you are doing isometric contractions.

The Squat

The squat is the quintessential gym exercise for lower body strength. However, like the deadlift, you must tighten your abs in order to perform the movement properly. The amount of weight sitting on your shoulders is typically enough to cause a severe back injury if you’re not keeping your back perfectly straight and your abs tightly flexed. Again, you are performing an isometric contraction throughout the squat. In order to really work your abs, make sure you do a full squat. While half-squats and quarter-squats may appear commonplace in gym a full squat will really work your abs or core.

The Push-Up

A push-up not only helps you to get a stronger upper body, but also a stronger more defined midsection. It incorporates the stabilization muscles of your core, combining an upper-body pushing movement with a plank. It is, in fact, one of the best and most basic exercises for your core. Push ups are a higher value plank. You’re not only strengthening your abdominals by holding them still while gravity is trying to push your hips towards the ground, but you’re also strengthening your upper body “pushing” muscles; your chest, shoulders and triceps.


A basic chin up is done with your palms facing towards you. This movement works your biceps, forearms, and even your shoulders. However, you will also work out your abdominal muscles if you contract them during the movement. To get an even better ab workout, use a dip belt and add as much weight as you can safely lift.

How It Works

Maintaining muscle requires more energy (calories) than fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the less fat you should be storing. Here is where full body exercises become key. Instead of focusing on just your abs, you’re working to build more muscle throughout your entire body. Squats, deadlifts, push-ups and weighted chinups are intense. They burn a lot of calories during the workout. They also put an incredible amount of stress on your muscles – damaging them through micro-trauma. If you are eating enough protein, (How Much Protein Do I Need) drinking enough water every day and, in general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh and getting enough rest, your body will respond to these heavy workouts by building and repairing the damaged muscle tissue all over your body. To do this, your body will turn to its fat reserves. Additionally, the new muscle will require you to burn more calories, some of which will come from fat tissue on your body. All of this will eventually lead to a lower body fat percentage and a defined, toned, abdominal region.

ABS and leg workout

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