Super-shredded abs are a bonus of having a strong core, sure, but the real benefit comes from the added stability you get through your entire body. Kara Faulk, an instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp, a fitness studio known for its cardio and strength intervals, created this set of core moves that will have your abs quivering and begging for more.
Here’s the plan: Do this entire series twice, performing each move for 45 to 60 seconds. For an optimal full-body workout, add in a 15- to 18-minute cardio interval, then repeat the series two more times.
- Scissor Kicks
- Isometric Hold with Arm/Leg Extension
- Resistance Band Oblique Crunches
- Resistance Band Oblique Pulls
- Plank with Knee Taps
- Hollow Hold with Medicine Ball Pass
- 20 Minute At-Home Ab Workout Routine
- At-Home Ab Workout Routine
- Bikini Abs
- Opposite Leg and Arm
- High Donkey Kicks
- Side Plank Crunches
- Plank Cross Overs
- Mountain Climbers
- Side Crunch Kicks
- Flutter Kicks
- The 11 Best Ab Workouts for Women
- 1/ Tash Oakley’s Best Bodyweight Ab Workout
- 2/ PT Alice Liveing’s Best 15-minute Ab Workout
- 3/ The Best Ballet-Inspired Ab Workout
- 4/ The Best Strength and Cardio Combo Ab Workout
- 5 & 6/ The Best Bodyweight Ab Workouts
- 7/ The Best Stability Ball Ab Workouts
- 8/ The Best Ab Finisher Workout
- 9/ The Best Workout for Lower Abs
- 10/ The Best Core Definition Ab Workout
- 11/ The Best No-Crunch Ab Workout
- Try to maintain these important things too…
- Like this article? SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER to receive your weekly dose of features.
Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Raise your straight arms to meet your straight legs in a “V” shape, lifting your shoulder blades to crunch toward your toes at the top of the lift. For an extra challenge, add a heavy weight, using a diamond grip (shown above). Extend the weight overhead and back as your legs extend, and reach the weight toward your toes at the top.
Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Lift your shoulder blades to the top of a crunch position, and extend your legs to the height of your shoulders. Raise your right leg, then your left, alternating so that your legs meet in the middle as you switch.
Related: ‘I Did 50 Crunches Every Day For A Month—Here’s What Happened’
Isometric Hold with Arm/Leg Extension
Lie down, press your lower back into a bench or mat, and elevate your legs into a table-top position. Flex your heels, and bring your palms to press against your knees. At the same time, press your knees into your palms. The constant resistance created here will fire up every section of your core. The harder you press, the more effective this move will be.
To advance this move, press your right palm and your right knee against each other while in a table-top position, and extend your left arm and left leg. Bring them back to a table-top position and hold for three seconds before alternating sides. (And remember: press hard!)
(The Slim, Sexy, Strong Workout DVD is the fast, flexible workout you’ve been waiting for!)
Resistance Band Oblique Crunches
Place a band under a heavy structure with even lengths on both sides. Grab both handles with your left hand, and allow the bands to fall below the height of your left knee, stretching out through the right side of your body. Then, pull your right elbow down, raising the band handles above your left hip. (It’s all about lengthening and then crunching!) Full range of motion is key here. Repeat on your opposite side.
Adding resistance to a basic oblique crunch makes a huge difference in oblique strength and definition. To make this move as effective as possible, resist when you’re on the decline, and release the resistance slowly, tightening your core as you do.
Hate crunches? Check out this standing flat-abs workout:
Resistance Band Oblique Pulls
With a band underneath a bench, turn to your side and hold the hanlde with both hands. Keeping the handle at shoulder-height, turn your chest and pull the handle until it’s in front of you. Then release back to your side with a slow and controlled tempo. As you perform the movement, think about a quick pull, tighten, and then a four-second release time. Make sure your back is straight, your shoulders are back, and your chest is open the entire time.
Related: 3 Strength-Training Habits You Should Quit Immediately
Plank with Knee Taps
Get into a high plank or forearm plank position, then tuck your pelvis and slowly lower your knees to tap the floor. (The key word here is “tap.” Do not place your weight on your knees as you lower down.) Contract your core and exhale as your knees slowly lower down, and inhale as your knees lift back up. Make sure your pelvis stays tucked and that your shoulders stay directly over your elbows or palms, depending on your plank type.
Related: Lose Your Belly with Just Two Exercise Moves
Hollow Hold with Medicine Ball Pass
Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Extend yoru arms overhead and lift your shoulder blades while extending your legs and lifting them to shoulder height. Crunch your knees to your chest, bringing your body to balance on your tailbone, and touch a weight to your shins. The challenge is to keep your shins level as you extend your body back into a hollow-hold position.
20 Minute At-Home Ab Workout Routine
I get asked ALL the time by the BBG Community how you can get defined abs or a flat stomach.
The first thing you need to know is that to get lean and fit requires you to train your WHOLE body — you have to do more than just ab workouts!
You will often hear me say that it isn’t possible to spot reduce by focusing only on a certain area. Getting the results you want with defined abs takes disciplined training and a healthy eating plan.
That said, doing extra ab exercises in addition to a full-body workout plan, like my BBG program, can help build muscle in those areas you want to pay more attention to.
- At-Home Ab Workout Routine
- What Muscles Does This Workout Target?
Core strength is crucial for your overall fitness and helps to improve balance and stability. And, fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you have to do hundreds of crunches each day!
Crunches only target the superficial (outer) abdominal muscles, which isn’t necessarily the most effective way to achieve strong abs.
If you’re looking to build well-rounded strength in your abs, core exercises like plank variations, ab bikes, leg raises and Russian twists are going to help you get there!
At-Home Ab Workout Routine
This 20-minute ab workout will fire up your core, so find a bench or chair and give it a go!
Set a timer and do each circuit for five minutes, with one minute of rest between circuits. Complete the circuits twice each for a 20-minute workout!
As with all my workouts, make sure to warm up first with five minutes of walking or skipping, or you can create your own warm up routine.
Transform Fitspo may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
This quick bikini abs blast circuit is designed to tighten your core and get you looking amazing for hitting the beach in the sun!
Opposite Leg and Arm
This is a great variation on the high plank that also engages your legs and arms.
1. Start in a high plank position.
2. Squeeze your core, raising one arm up in front of you, and squeeze your glute to raise your opposite leg up behind you. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
3. Return your leg and arm back down to a high plank position. This is one rep.
4. Repeat on the other side.
The crunch is a great base ab exercise.
1. Lie flat on your back.
2. Place your hands at the side of your head or flat beside you. Don’t pull on your head or neck.
3. Tense your abs to bring your torso off the floor, whilst at the same time using your abs to raise your legs into the air to complete the crunch.
4. Hold for 2-3 seconds before returning to a flat initial position. One crunch is one rep.
High Donkey Kicks
Try this variation of the donkey kick to increase the difficulty, add resistance for your glutes and work your shoulders.
1. Start on your hands and the balls of your feet, with your legs stretched out behind you and your back slightly rounded. Have your hands directly below your shoulders.
2. Squeeze your glute, kicking one leg backwards towards the sky with your leg straight, squeezing at the top for 2-3 seconds.
3. At the same time, push with your hands to push your body back with your leg.
4. Slowly return the leg until you’re on the balls of both feet, and pull your arms until your shoulders are over your hands again. This is one rep.
Side Plank Crunches
You can spread the work across more of your ab muscles by adding a crunch to your side plank. This is an awesome bikini abs workout!
1. Lie on your side and place your lower forearm on the ground. Make sure your elbow is below your shoulder.
2. Either; stack your feet on top of each other, scissor them so both feet are on the ground, or place your lower knee on the ground (to make it easier).
3. Lift your hips up to get into the side plank position and brace your core muscles. Keep your spine and neck in a neutral position.
4. From the side plank position, tighten your abs, circling your raised elbow towards the forearm you’re supporting yourself with.
5. Return your arm to its initial position. This is one rep.
6. Repeat on the other side.
Plank Cross Overs
1. Start in a high plank position. Tense your core.
2. At the same time, jump yourself up in the air slightly, placing your hands in a crossed over position and separating your feet further apart. Make sure to tighten your core as you do this.
3. Reverse the movement, bringing your feet closer together and un-crossing your hands. This is one rep.
1. Hold yourself in a high plank position, squeezing your core.
2. Raise your knee towards your elbows without changing your hip height or spine position, bringing your leg forward with it.
3. Fire your leg back into its original position. This is one rep.
4. Repeat rapidly with the other leg.
Side Crunch Kicks
1. Start in a high plank position. Lift one arm off the ground and rotate your body onto your side placing that arm on your hip, supported by your other arm. Place your feet together. This is your starting posititon.
2. Kick your lower leg out in front of you, focusing on your lower abs to bring your leg out. Keep your leg an inch or two above the ground as you do this. Hold for 1-2 seconds.
3. Return your leg to it’s initial position below you. This is one rep. Repeat on the other side.
Flutter kicks are a simple way to give your hip flexors, lower abs and quads a workout. These hit your lower abs, making them a great addition to our bikini abs workout.
1. Lie flat on your back on the floor or on a bench.
2. Lift both feet an inch or two in the air.
3. Tense your lower abs to raise one leg.
4. Alternate between raising each leg, lowering them to 1-2 inches above the ground. A flutter kick with both legs counts as one rep.
Googling the best ab workouts is a click-hole waiting to happen. From searching for ‘the most effective ab exercises for women’ to frantically calculating how fast exactly it’ll take you to tone your midsection, the hours lost trawling the internet for information are immeasurable. From wanting to lose belly fat to trying to tone stomach muscles (aka, ya abs) the amount of women looking to change the appearance of their midsection is high.
If you’re someone who struggles to see visible results in spite of smashing your workouts day in and day out, it’s good to remember that a strong core doesn’t always equate to washboard abs. There are many other variables that’ll play into the tautness of your tummy, so make sure to read right to the end to make sure you’re hitting them too.
For now though, the crème de la crème of abdominal workouts…
Foam Non-Slip Exercise Mat Core Balance amazon.co.uk £12.99 Swiss Stability Ball Core Balance amazon.co.uk £11.99 Neoprene Kettlebell Body Revolution amazon.co.uk £11.99 S’well 260ml Water Bottle S’well amazon.co.uk £25.00
The 11 Best Ab Workouts for Women
First things first, let’s get the basics out of the way with a bit of biology. The four main muscle groups in the abdominal section are the:
- External obliques (obliques are the muscles on the side that make the ‘hourglass’ definition)
- Internal obliques
- Transversus abdominis (acts like a corset around your midsection)
- Rectus abdominis (commonly called the ‘sit-up’ muscles, they start from the pubic section and extend the entire length of your trunk)
The workouts below are targeted to hit combinations of these muscles with a variety of moves – *cough* Spiderman press ups coming your way *cough*.
Pay attention to the instructions and make sure to engage your core because things are about to get spicy.
Ready? Let’s roll.
1/ Tash Oakley’s Best Bodyweight Ab Workout
Targets: triceps, core, glutes, thighs, shoulders, arms, chest, abs
Natasha Oakley’s stomach is surprisingly something people around the world are aware of. As co-founder of swimwear companies A Bikini a Day and Monday Swimwear, she’s in kit a lot. And by kit, we obviously mean a bikini.
To train like Tash, albeit sans swimsuit and perhaps with a sports bra on instead, try this killer core workout designed by her ex-boyfriend and PT Gilles Souteyrand.
2/ PT Alice Liveing’s Best 15-minute Ab Workout
Targets: abs, obliques, shoulders
A quick 15 minute ab blast from social media ray of sunshine Alice Liveing is all you need to get your core fired up in an efficient and effective way.
Have a go at her four-move ab conditioning workout. It’ll take 15 minutes but don’t let that make you think it’s easy…
Do each exercise for 45 seconds then rest for 15 seconds. Move onto the next exercise. Rest for one minute after each circuit.
3/ The Best Ballet-Inspired Ab Workout
Targets: core, external and internal obliques, abs, transverse abdominus
Anouk Pascale, founder of luxury health and fitness company Reshapeology, designed this ballet-barre workout to help women develop strong cores.
For the swan in you, have a crack at these. Just remember, grace is in the eye of the beholder and all that…
Do this workout three times a week for best results.
4/ The Best Strength and Cardio Combo Ab Workout
Targets: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps, rotators, abs
With this circuit, try to limit the amount of rest between sets as this will help keep your heart rate high and get the strength cardio fix you’re after.
Repeat the circuit four times for ultimate effect.
5 & 6/ The Best Bodyweight Ab Workouts
This 15-minute four move circuit is perfect for targeting the abdominal muscles that define a toned tummy. Well, go on then!
Add these moves into your workout three or four times a week to gain core strength.
Another time-efficient ab workout, this ab-focused workout uses side planks, jabs and punches to get you shaped up in no time.
Targets: abs, obliques, triceps
7/ The Best Stability Ball Ab Workouts
Targets: core, glutes, lower abdominals, obliques, shoulders, lower back
A strong core is a massive part of avoiding injury when training as it can mitigate stress put on the hips and knees. Try this minimal equipment ab workout for the ultimate sculpt and strengthen.
Repeat the circuit for 3-5 rounds, dependent on skill and strength.
8/ The Best Ab Finisher Workout
Targets: core, triceps, shoulders, glutes, quadriceps
So, you’ve done the hard bit, your workout’s (almost!) over and you’re this close to packing it in and hitting the showers. Before that much needed moment, make sure to tack this abdominal finisher onto the end of your sesh. Four moves is all it takes!
As this is an AMRAP finisher, try to complete as many rounds as possible in 4 minutes then rest for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times. Brutal? You betcha.
9/ The Best Workout for Lower Abs
Targets: lower abdominals, pelvic floor, obliques
Designed to target the muscles south of the belly button, this 5 move workout will work your abdominal wall and obliques.
10/ The Best Core Definition Ab Workout
Targets: obliques, abdominals, lower back, lower abdominals
Looking for a defined midsection? Well, look no further.
This flexibility and strength building session can be done alone or as part of a workout plan.
11/ The Best No-Crunch Ab Workout
Targets: abs, core
Laying down and wriggling around like a over-turned turtle while you try to bicycle kick your way to a toned tummy is not the only way. Instead, approaching ab workouts from a functional fitness perspective means that you can go crunch-free – hallelujah!
Try this 15 minute circuit as a standalone session or as part of a larger workout.
Try to maintain these important things too…
7-9 hours is the average range for most people, although everyone has their own unique sleep ‘footprint. Try and work out how much you need to feel alert and ready for the day and then maintain it with good sleep hygiene.
There are apps upon apps out there to help shift bedtime from turn up to wind down – the most basic of which is to work with you body’s natural circadian rhythm and try to calm down as the sun sinks.
Now, it’s not realistic to expect you to be home and hunkering down before the sun’s set – but limiting the amount of blue light you consume from screens before bedtime is always a good shout to shift from up and at ‘em to easing into sleep.
Staying properly hydrated
Now that everyone and their dog has a reusable water bottle (yay!) now seems like a great tIme to figure out exactly how much of the clear stuff you should be drinking. No, not gin, but good ol’ H20.
To calculate the base amount of water you should be drinking per day:
Then multiply your weight in kg by 0.6 and divide by 15. If, for example, you weigh 60kg your calculation would look like:
60 x 0.6 / 15 = 2.5 litres per day.
So, grab a calculator – who are we kidding, switch apps – and calculate how much you should be chugging down.
Keeping an eye on nutrition
Tracking your macros can be a great way to see exactly how your nutrition fits into your goals. Not everyone can have the same macro split as goals vary from person to person – some choosing to focus on aesthetic change while others are chasing after PBs and strength markers.
Those looking to shed fat and uncover their abdominal muscles may have a different macronutrient split to those wanting to grow and strengthen abdominal muscles without the fat-loss. As sure as you can be that you’ve been spot on with your nutrition, a macro-tracker is a handy way to stay accountable to your goals.
If that sounds like too much faff then meals focused around lean proteins, slow-release carbs and digestion-helping fibre will stave off the dreaded 3pm slump and hopefully the hangry snack purchases that come with it – helping you lose fat and define lean abdominal muscles.
Recipes containing fish and nuts will work to keep you feeling full while also replenishing the protein stores that repair (and grow) the muscle fibres you’ve torn during your morning strength training sesh.
Like this article? SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER to receive your weekly dose of features.
Morgan Fargo Morgan is WH’s digital fitness writer with a penchant for brutal HIIT classes and thick post-workout smoothies.