Abb circuit workout

Abb circuit workout DEFAULT

Good news for anyone who's living room doubles as a fitness studio: You can totally, percent score a hard core by doing ab workouts at home.

Yep, even from home, all you need to create an effective abs workout and sculpt your midsection is to incorporate exercises that target all four of the major muscle groups in your midsection—the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques.

You see, your abs are a complex muscle group, so it's important to work 'em in different planes (front-to-back, side-to-side, and diagonally). The good news here: You can officially stop doing a million crunches and sit-ups, which just work your rectus abdominus, the muscles that run down the front of your stomach. (Hallelujah!)

The better news? Switching up your abs exercises will stop you from getting bored (or landing yourself an overuse injury) and actually help you carve your core faster.

Oh, and the best news yet: All you need at home is enough space for a yoga mat to make the magic happen. Nope, you don't need a shred of equipment for a scorcher of a home abs workout.

But what does this core-sculpting home workout look like, exactly? This move abs circuit workout. Crank it out two or three times a week and you'll be well on your way to more toned abs without having to leave home.

Ready to sweat? Turn off Netflix, put on your favorite playlist, and brace that core for the work ahead.

Time: 20 minutes

Equipment: mat

Good for: abs, core

Instructions: Complete the indicated number of reps for each move below (demo-d by certified trainer Kara Liotta). From there, immediately continue to the next exercise without resting until you've finished all of them. Then, rest for one minute and repeat all 10 moves a second time. (If you're feeling up to it, go for a third!)

1Bicycle Crunch

How to: Lie on back with hands behind head. Lift shoulder blades off mat, raise legs so knees are bent at 90 degrees, and gaze at thighs, keeping neck relaxed. This is your starting position. Engage abs and rotate right elbow toward left knee while extending right leg to straight, lowering it as close to the floor as possible without resting it on mat. Return to start and repeat on the other side. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

2Side Hip Bridge

How to: Start by lying on right side with left foot on top of right and right forearm on mat, elbow under shoulder. Your palm should be flat with your fingers spread, left hand on hip. Engage obliques and lift hips up until body forms a straight line from head to heels. Pause for one breath, then lower back down to start. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps on right side, then flip to left side and complete 10 reps on that side. Continue to the next move.

3Reverse Crunch

How to: Start lying on back with hands by sides and legs lifted off the ground at a degree angle, toes pointed. Push down into arms and pull knees into chest until hips lift off mat, keeping core engaged. Slowly return to start. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

4Air Chop

How to: Start standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Arms should be raised overhead, elbows bent so that hands can be clasped behind body and biceps are framing face. Engage arm muscles and, with control, swing arms forward and down, stopping when they reach chest level. Return slowly to start. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

5Shoulder Tap

How to: Start in a plank position. Keeping hips level, touch left shoulder with right hand, then place palm back on the floor. Repeat on the other side.That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

6Extended Arm Plank Bird Dog

How to: Start in a plank position. Engage core and lift left arm and right leg off the mat at the same time, keeping hips as level as possible. Slowly return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

7Extended Arm Plank To T-Raise

How to: Start in a plank position with feet wider than hips. Keep toes in place but lower heels down to the right until they reach the mat while rotating torso to face left side of mat and lifting left arm into the air in line with shoulder. Return to start and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

8Plank To Toe Touch

How to: Start in plank position. Engage lower abs and lift hips to pull body into an upside down “V” shape while reaching right hand back to touch left ankle. (Heels stay high the whole time.) Slowly return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

9Seated Rotation

How to: Sit on the floor and lean upper body back until abs are engaged. Legs should be lifted and bent at 90 degrees, and arms should be bent, hands clasped, with elbows wide. This is your starting position. Rotate torso to right side so that right elbow is hovering just off mat. Keep lower body still while rotating upper body to left side until left elbow is just off mat. Return to start. Gaze follows hands as you move. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. Continue to the next move.

10Hollow Hold

How to: Start lying on back with arms and legs extended and on the floor. Raise arms and legs, leaving just bra line and lower back on mat so body looks like a banana. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest for one minute then repeat entire circuit from the top until you've done two or three rounds.

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Strengthen Your Core with This Ab Circuit Workout

There is no magic exercise that will give you an hourglass figure or rock-hard, six-pack abs. There is, however, a combination of exercises that, when combined with a healthy diet and an adequate calorie-burning cardio routine, may trim your waist and allow those abs to peek through. Strengthening and tightening your oblique muscles can contribute to a, stronger core and better shape to your entire midsection.

General Guidelines

  • If your goal is to strengthen and define your midsection, for weighted exercises, choose a weight that fatigues your muscles in about 12 to 20 repetitions. You don’t need to do 50 to repetitions of abdominal exercises. Save time, improve strength and pick up a weight!
  • Train the abdominals two to three times per week on non-consecutive days. Like any other muscle group, they need rest and recovery to repair and become stronger.
  • Consult your doctor, especially with twisting and leg-lifting exercises if you have low-back pain, as these exercises may be contraindicated.

The Ab Circuit Workout

Each circuit involves some sort of plank variation, because they are great at activating your whole core; a crunch or leg lift exercise, because they place extra emphasis on the rectus abdominis and obliques; and a dynamic exercise for calorie burning. Complete each circuit two to four times, depending on your level of fitness and available time.

Ab Circuit 1

BOSU Spiderman Planks

BOSU Spiderman Planks

Place a BOSU on the floor, dome side up. Position your elbows and forearms on the top of the ball and your feet behind you about shoulder-width apart. Perform a plank, keeping the glutes, abs, back, obliques and legs tight. With minimal movement, lift your left leg slowly and bring your left knee to the BOSU on the outside of your left elbow, keeping your foot off the floor. Contract your obliques and keep the hips low and facing the floor to try and make contact with the BOSU. Hold for a moment, return to plank and repeat on the right side. Do 10 per side.

Modifications – If you are a beginner, try this movement from a push-up position on the floor or weight bench, or from an elbow plank on a weight bench.

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are great because you can do them anywhere, and they activate the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and obliques, so they are basically a total-abdominal exercise. Lie on your back and place your hands behind your neck, lightly supporting your head. Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee, keeping the right leg elevated off the floor. With control, twist and switch legs. Keep this movement controlled and pause during each twist to emphasize oblique involvement. Do 20 repetitions per side.

Tuck Thrusts

Tuck Thrusts

This is a high-intensity exercise to boost your heart rate and burn calories while activating your abs. Start in a push-up position on your hands and with your feet together. Jump your feet up toward your torso and finish with your feet in between your hands, chest up and heels on the floor, in a tuck position. Jump back out and return to a push-up position. Squeeze your abs on the tuck jump in to effectively pull your knees to your chest, and brace your entire core when you land back in push-up position so you avoid arching and straining your lower back. Repeat the exercise for 30 seconds.

Ab Circuit 2

BOSU Side Plank with Reach

BOSU Side Plank with Reach

Perform a side plank, placing your right elbow on the dome side of a BOSU. You can either place your left foot on top of your right foot, or place the heel of your right foot against the toe of your left foot, directly on the floor. Reach your left arm straight into the air, then bring it down and reach under your body, through to the other side. As you reach through, twist your shoulders to face the floor, keeping your core tight so your entire body moves as one.

Modification – Try this exercise on the floor or on a weight bench before progressing to the BOSU.

Bench Leg Lifts

Bench Leg Lifts

Using a flat bench, lie on your back with your shoulders, back and hips in contact with the bench; bend the knees to about 90 degrees with feet flat on the bench. Grab the bench overhead. Bring your knees up until your thighs are perpendicular to the bench and lift your hips up off the bench at the top of the movement. Target the obliques by lifting your knees and alternate twisting them toward your left and right. For more of a challenge, try this exercise with straight legs, but be careful not to strain your lower back. Lift the hips when the legs are vertical. If you are advanced, try dropping your feet, with legs straight, below the level of the bench for an added abdominal stretch, then proceed to lift them up.

Suspended Mountain Climbers

Suspended Mountain Climbers

Most people are familiar with mountain climbers, but this variation places more of an emphasis on the core. Get into push-up position as you would for a normal mountain climber; however, when you bring your left knee toward your chest, keep your left foot off the floor, so your weight is all on your right leg behind you. Jump and switch legs, now holding the right leg up. Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds, moving quickly but with control. For added difficulty, perform this exercise holding onto the black handles of a BOSU, or with your feet suspended in a TRX or similar suspension trainer.

Ab Circuit 3

TRX (or ball) Tuck-In

Suspended Mountain Climbers

Place your toes in a TRX or other suspension trainer and face the floor on your hands and knees. Lift your knees off the floor so that you are in a perfect plank position on your hands, with your core tight and stable. Do not let your hips drop or lower back arch. Once stable, draw your knees slowly to your chest. Pause and return to the starting position. Try doing 10 to 12 repetitions. For an advanced move, try doing this exercise with straight legs, lifting your hips over your shoulders in a pike position. If you do not have access to a suspension trainer, try doing this exercise with your feet on a stability ball.

Stability Ball Crunch With Twist

Stability Ball Crunch with Twist

According to an ACE-sponsored study, stability ball crunches elicited a significant amount of muscle activation from the rectus abdominis, which makes sense because you are on an unstable surface. Take the crunch a step further and try to add a slight twist of the upper body at the top of the crunch to activate your obliques. For advanced exercisers, try lifting your opposite leg off the floor to meet your elbow at the peak of the crunch. Keep in mind that this is a challenging exercise. Try performing 10 crunches per side.

Dynamic Ball Throws

Grab a 5- to pound medicine ball. Lie on the floor with knees bent and do crunches, but throw the ball slightly in the air on the way up and catch it on the way down. If you have access to a stable wall, assume crunch position perpendicular to the wall, with toes about a foot away. Hold the ball overhead, crunch up and throw it high against the wall. Try to catch the ball in the same position from which you threw it and lower yourself back down, tapping the ball to the floor behind your head. You also can activate the obliques by sitting with your right side parallel with the wall and leaning back about 45 degrees. Hold the ball to your left, twist to your right and throw the ball against the wall. Catch it and twist back to the left and tap the ball on the ground. Repeat 10 to 15 times per side.


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Do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing inwards towards the torso. Keep your back straight, activate your core, and then bend to the side as far as possible—but only at the waist. Hold for one second at the bottom of your range of motion, and return to start for one rep. Do between 12 and 20 reps for one set.

Trainer tip: “Be smart when you pick the weight,” says Wealth. “It shouldn’t feel impossible. Using reasonable weights will help you focus on keeping your abs tight during the exercise for maximum results. And keep that tempo nice and slow.” The real six-pack is not the lift itself—it’s the burning sensation you feel along the way.

5. Barbell back squat

Equipment: Barbell—no weights, though. For now.

Do it: With your feet shoulder-width apart, lift a barbell off the rig, centering it evenly across your shoulders. (This version of the squat targets the core, not the legs, and so you should be using far less weight than you would for a traditional back squat.) Send your glutes back like you’re lowering into a chair, bending at the knees as deeply as possible. Press through your heels to return to the starting position for one rep. Do 12 reps for one set.

Trainer tip: “Think about maintaining tension in your abs throughout the entire movement,” says Wealth. “Once you have the movement mastered, you can add additional weights to the barbell. By going up in small increments, though, you’ll stay injury-free.”

6. Bird dog

Equipment: None.

Do it: Think of this as an upside-down dead bug. Start in a tabletop position, with your shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Engage your core while simultaneously lifting your right arm and left leg. Your foot should be flexed as you kick back, and your palm should face in towards your body. Pause for one second when your arm and leg are at the same height as your torso, and then bring your elbow and knee to touch underneath the body. Repeat on the other side for one rep, and do five reps for one set.

Trainer tip: “Be careful not to hyperextend your elbows! Maintaining a slight bend fires up those triceps,” says Wilking. “Keep the neck long by looking down and a few inches in front of you, and use the exhale portion of each breath to create tension.”

Model: Joshua Cummings at Wilhelmina

Grooming by Barry White

More Workout Guides:

The Best No-Equipment Workouts

Workout Apps for When You Can't Hit the Gym

The Best Chest Exercises for Building a Broad, Strong Upper Body

The Best Back Exercises for Getting That Perfect V-Shaped Torso


10 Workouts for a Stronger Back and Abs

A strong back and great abs are two of of a man’s most sought-after attributes—and for good reason.

Shoring up the large muscle groups at the center of your body isn’t just a vain, aesthetic thing: Both are key for warding off injuries and preventing the aches and pains that come from working out other muscles and everyday living.

That said, you have to look beyond your mirror muscles and also strengthen the oft-neglected ones.

“To build a strong back, you have to focus not just on the upper back muscles but your lower back as well for overall strength,” says Alyssa Ages, athlete with PowerNYC Training and trainer at Global Stronman Gym, Epic Hybrid Training, and Uplift Studios. Rows (barbell and dumbbell; upright, bent, and renegade), good mornings, and back extensions—all moves incorporated into the following 10 routines—are some of the best exercises you can do for overall back strength.

And when it comes to building a stronger core, just doing a million crunches isn’t going to cut it (or get you cut), says Ages. “Adding weight to your core work (weighted sit-ups, weighted planks) forces your abs and supporting muscles to work that much harder to fight against the resistance provided by the added weight,” she says.

And with 10 routines to choose from, you have zero excuses not to work on these important muscle groups: Whether you have no equipment and want to get in a quick bodyweight workout or have barbells, dumbbells, a TRX, and more—there’s a routine here for you.

You’ll also find something for whatever time frame you have: Got 10 minutes? Try Workout #4 (warning: It’s pretty intense). There’s a Tabata routine if you want to rev up your metabolism and burn more fat and calories, a CrossFit-inspired EMOM workout, a few standard circuit workouts, and more. So, clearly, there’s no excuse to get bored mentally—and your body definitely won’t get bored physically, either.

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Mountain Climber

Workout 1: Bodyweight

You need: Two small hand towels (or gliders if you have them). This one’s all about body weight.

How: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Go through all the exercises, then complete the entire workout one more time.

1) Mountain climbers (the towels are under your toes)

2) Superman planks (towels under your toes, drag left knee to left elbow, then right knee to right elbow, repeat)

3) Plank knee tucks (towels under your toes, drag your knees in toward your chest without raising your butt or torso. Do not rest with your knees tucked—shoot them back out and continue in a fluid motion.)

4) Gliding Supermans (towels under your hands, lying face down, arms out in front of you. As you lift your torso up, arms glide across the floor to a “T” position.)

5) Plank reaches (towels under your hands in high plank, extend left arm forward into an extended plank, return to center, repeat with right hand)

Dumbbell Renegade Rows

Workout 2: Weights

You need: Dumbbells and weight plate

How: Complete 3 sets of reps for each exercise (with 60 seconds rest between sets).

1) Dumbbell row

2) Weighted situps (soles of the feet together, knees fall out to the sides in butterfly position; weight plate or dumbbell held overhead with arms straight)

3) Dumbbell reverse fly

4) Russian twist (use one dumbbell or weight plate)

5) Renegade rows

Upright Barbell Row

Workout 3: Building barbell

You need: Barbell

How: Perform the first set with just the barbell and add weight for the following sets. Perform 12 reps of each exercise before moving on to the next. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

1) Bentover row

2) High pull

3) Barbell rollout

4) Good mornings

Workout 4: minute sequence

You need: Pullup bar, kettlebell

How: In 10 minutes, perform as many rounds as possible of the following.

1) 5 strict pullups

2) Toes-to-bar (or knees to elbows) 

3) 15 American kettlebell swings

Dumbbell Row

Workout 5: EMOM

You need: Barbell or dumbbells

How: Performed as an EMOM (every minute, on the minute) for 20 minutes. Complete all the exercises as fast as possible in one minute. Whatever time you have left in that minute is your rest time (so if you finish in 30 seconds, you have 30 seconds rest time). Begin again every minute, on the minute.

1) 5 barbell or dumbbell rows

2) 5 burpees

Turkish Getup

Workout 6: Rows

You need: Kettlebells, barbell

How: Perform the assigned number of reps of each exercise before moving on to the next exercises. Rest one minute between exercises and repeat the full list of exercises twice.

1) Turkish getups (10; 5 on each side)

2) T-Bar rows (12)

3) Kettlebell windmills (12; 6 on each side)

4) Inverted rows (10)

Wiper Pullups

Workout 7: BAB

You need: Pull-up bar, dumbbells or kettlebells

How: Two rounds. In round 1, perform the A exercise, then the B, then the A again for 30 seconds each with no rest in between. Rest 60 seconds before moving on the the next set of ABA. Once you have completed all six movements as ABA, rest two minutes, then complete the entire six movements again as BAB where exercise B is now performed twice.

1) A: Burpees B: Plank hold

2) A: Windshield wipers B: Renegade rows

3) A: Knees to elbows B: pull-ups

4) A: High pull B: Weighted sit-ups

5) A: Supermans B: Plank-to-pike

6) A: Russian twist B: Reverse fly 

Man doing TRX Suspension Trainer row

Workout 8: TRX

You need: TRX

How: Performed as back-to-back Tabatas. Complete one full Tabata with #1 and then one full Tabata with #2, and so forth with one minute rest in between.

1) TRX rows

2) TRX body saws

3) TRX pushups

4) TRX mountain climbers


Workout 9: Ball, bar, and burpees

You need: Ab ball, pull-up bar

How: This one is all about bodyweight. Go all out for 60 seconds with each exercise, rest 30 seconds, move on to the next exercises. Complete the entire group of exercises and then rest two minutes. Run through the entire workout one more time.

1) V-Ups

2) Supermans

3) Plank to pike on ab ball

4) Chin-ups

5) Burpees

Bicycle Crunch

Workout Dumbbells

You need: Dumbbells

How: Time yourself for one round of completing all the exercises and reps below. Rest two minutes and try to beat your time for round 2.

1) Single arm dumbbell row (8 reps each side)

2) Bicycle crunches (30 reps)

3) Dumbbell reverse fly (12 reps)

4) Incline weighted situps (20)

5) Mountain climbers (50) 

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Circuit workout abb

Abs workouts

If you’re looking to train your abs, the good news is that there are a huge variety of exercises that will help you achieve that goal. Even if you’re not doing moves that focus on them directly, the location of your abs means that they are worked hard by compound exercises that hit both the upper and lower body. Your core is also key to any exercise in which you have to keep your body stable, such as static holds like the plank or tricky balancing acts like the single-leg Romanian deadlift.

Whether your goal is a six-pack or just a little more definition around your midsection, compound lifts like squats, overhead presses and deadlifts will help get you there, and they’ll build strength all over your body at the same time. That said, there’s also room for more focused abs work too, especially if you have designs on achieving a cover model-style six-pack.

The four-move circuits below provide both isolation exercises and compound moves, and the three options target different areas of your abs to ensure you’re hitting them from every angle. The first workout concentrates on your upper abs, the second focuses on the lower abs, and the final routine works the often neglected side abs – or obliques – along with your deeper core muscles.

Though each circuit works as quick stand-alone abs blast, you can also tack them on to the end of your main training session to ensure your abs are getting the attention they merit.

The really good news is that you don’t need access to a gym to complete these workouts, so you can keep pursuing your six-pack dream during the COVID lockdown. This is one area of the body that you can absolutely whip into shape at home, with minimal equipment required to get you really feeling the burn in your midsection.

We say minimal, rather than no, equipment, because for the workouts below you will need a pull-up bar for moves like the hanging leg raise. Bars are affordable and usually easy to find, though during the lockdown demand has exceeded supply at times, so check our pick of the best pull-up bars for options that are still available. The dumbbell crunch calls for a dumbbell, but if you don’t have one then any kind of weight you can hold by your chest will do – it doesn’t have to be too heavy.

How To Do Each Abs Workout

Each of these abs workouts is a mini-circuit you can do at the end of your main workout. The circuits are designed to work the maximum number of muscle fibres as quickly and effectively as possible, so you’ll do all four moves in order, sticking to the reps and rest periods detailed. The first move of each circuit is the hardest, then they get progressively easier as the number of reps per move increases. This works your abs harder and places them under greater tension for longer, which is ultimately what stimulates muscle growth. After the final move, rest for the allotted time, then repeat the circuit. Do three circuits in total.

Upper Abs Workout

1 Dumbbell crunch

Upper abs workout: Dumbbell crunch

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell or weight plate across your chest in both hands. Raise your torso, then lower it, maintaining tension in your uppers abs throughout.

2 Tuck and crunch

Upper abs workout: Modified V-sit

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

Lie down with your hands by your head and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle. Simultaneously raise your torso and draw your knees towards your chest. Keep your fingers by your temples throughout and initiate each rep smoothly without jerking your torso up. Don’t let your feet touch the floor between reps.

3 Modified V-sit

Upper abs workout: Tuck and crunch

Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Lie with your legs raised off the floor and extended away from you so they’re parallel with the floor, and your arms straight by your sides, held off the floor. Keep your arms straight as you raise your torso and bring your legs in, bending at the knees, so that your chest meets your knees at the top of the move. Then lower under control.

4 Crunch

Upper abs workout: Crunch

Reps 20 Rest 90sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted, and your arms crossed across your chest. Raise your torso using your abs, then lower. Your upper abs will already be close to fatigue but try to hold the top position of each rep for at least one second to make them work as hard as possible.

Lower Abs Workout

1 Hanging leg raise

Lower abs workout: Hanging leg raise

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Fair warning, this tough exercise sets the tone for what is going to be a brutal workout involving four different hanging exercises. Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and your knees and ankles touching. Keep them together as your use your lower abs to raise them, then lower back to the start under control.

2 Hanging knee raise twist

Lower abs workout: Hanging knee raise twist

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and knees together. Twist your body and raise your knees to one side, then return to the start. Continue, alternating sides.

3 Hanging knee raise

Lower abs workout: Hanging knee raise

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

This slightly easier variation on the hanging leg raise still puts a lot of pressure on your lower abs. Start in a dead hang and raise your knees powerfully to activate more of the muscle fibres in the lower abs. Lower back to the start under control to prevent swinging.

4 Garhammer raise

Lower abs workout: Garhammer raise

Reps 20 Rest 90sec

Start hanging from the bar but with your knees already raised to around your midsection, then lift them as high as you can. Lower back to the start under control, keeping your abs engaged throughout.

Obliques And Core Workout

1 Decline plank with foot touch

Obliques and core workout: Decline plank with foot touch

Reps 10 each side Rest 10sec

Get into a decline plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms with your feet raised on a bench. Your body should form a straight line from heels to head and the aim is to maintain that position throughout the exercise. Lift one foot off the bench and move it to the side to touch the floor, then return it to the bench. Continue, alternating sides.

2 Seated Russian twist

Obliques and core workout: Seated Russian twist

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and heels on the ground. Your torso should be at the top of the crunch position, forming a 45° angle to the ground. Twist your torso from side to side, moving in a smooth and controlled manner.

3 Bicycle crunches

Obliques and core workout: Bicycle

Reps 15 each side Rest 10sec

Lie on your back with your hands by your temples and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle. Bring your right knee up towards your chest while raising your torso and twisting so your left elbow comes to meet your knee. Then lower and do the same on the opposite side. Keep your shoulders and feet off the ground to force your abs to work hard to stabilise your torso.

4 Plank

Obliques and core workout: Plank

Time Max Rest 90sec

Maintain a strict plank position, with your hips up, your glutes and core braced, and your head and neck relaxed. Breathing slowly and deeply, hold the position for as long as possible.

Abs Training Tips

Look beyond deadlifts

In this CrossFit-and-strongman era, it’s a common claim that deadlifts are all the abs work you need. Dead wrong. In fact, the most recent study to compare key exercises found that press-ups and plank holds beat even heavy back squats and deadlifts for core activation. Although the weighted movements produced the most force on the lower back, the bodyweight moves proved most effective for the rectus abdominis and external obliques.

What’s the frequency?

Once upon a time, the myth was that, as “endurance” muscles, the abs should be trained every day. Now it’s more common to encounter claims that you only need one dedicated core workout a week – but the truth lies somewhere in between. “Two or three abs workouts a week might be optimal for most people,” says trainer Jonny Jacobs. “Breaking it up into separate days – for static, anti-rotation work and dynamic movements – is one good option.”

Bringing flexion back

You should know by now that doing hundreds of sit-ups is doing nothing good for your back, but that doesn’t mean you ought to ditch spinal flexion entirely. In , back health expert Dr Stuart McGill co-authored a paper explaining: “If flexibility is important… the trainer may want to select full-range curl-ups and crunches…if maximal muscular development is the goal, including the crunch and its variations may help.” Translation: A few are fine.

ABS/CORE ROUTINE that works! - My 2 Favorite Circuits!

Six-pack exercises don't start and end with sit-ups. As any proud owner of six-pack abs will attest, it takes more than just endless crunches, twists and sit-ups to achieve your goal of a cobblestone core. In fact, you may want to abandon crunches all together if you want to get smart on your six-pack.

A warning: when it comes to the abs exercises below, you'll want to get comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable. Despite nothing hurting as much as the day after you blitz your core in the gym, the results are always worth the aches and pains.

Abs, you see, are much more than a chiseled torso and an excuse to wear a tight t-shirt, they are also one of the most important muscles in your body and having a stronger core will help your strength in other lifts — helping your numbers on bench presses, overhead work, deadlifts and squats creep upwards and improve your recovery — while helping you maintain good posture and even eliminate back pain.

Therefore, safe to say that ab exercises deserve as much time and attention as any other muscle group in your body, so it's important to do the right exercises. Here's how.

Westend61Getty Images

Ab Exercises Benefits

Getting visible abs is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to training your core. There are almost countless benefits of having a fortified mid-section that are applicable to almost everyone — whether you swear by a weekend 5K, are a devout CrossFit zealot or just want to become faster, fitter and stronger. Here are just a few.

You'll beat back pain with ab exercises: In , according to the Office for National Statistics, almost 31m work days were lost in the UK due to musculoskeletal problems including back pain, with treatment and attributable costs estimated at £bn a year. The solution, thankfully, is significantly cheaper. A core-focused training regime — this 4-move back workout is particularly effective – can eliminate back pain, Canadian research suggests, with stationary exercises such as side planks being more beneficial than sit-ups or crunches.

You'll hit many personal bests: If your big lifts have stalled, it's probably your (lack of) accessory work and a weaker core holding you back. A strong midsection will become the sturdy foundation on which your compound moves will increase, helping you lift heavier weights for more reps, generating more force through your body and keeping your back safe.

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Your posture will improve with ab exercises: Simply put, core training can help you stand up straight. A study in Isokinetics and Exercise Science found men who took three hour-long pilates sessions a week for two months saw significant improvements in postural stability tests and exercises.

You'll have better balance: "A strong core keeps your torso in a more stable position whenever you move, whether you're playing sports or just doing chores," sports medicine specialist J. Christopher Mendler, M.D said to Men's Health. This will translate into both your training and every day movements.

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You can dominate at your sport: As a strong core will help you transfer more power to your limbs, you'll be able to punch harder, drive further and send a ball with more force, making you a better athlete at just about anything.

You'll become more agile with ab exercises: A study in the journal Kinesiology found that participants performing core and instability exercises — such as TRX exercises and single-leg moves — can help you become more flexible and more agile.


The Anatomy of Your Abs

If you want to get shredded, it helps to get molecular on your body. We're not talking about attaining a degree in sports science here, but more knowing which part of your abs you're working and where.

Upper Abs

To specifically target your upper abs, your objective is to focus on exercises that involve pulling your chest towards your pelvis. Sure, they'll hit your whole core, but they'll smoke your upper abs too. Here's one to try:

Try: V-Ups


  1. Starting on your back, extend your legs and keep your arms by your side
  2. In one movement, lift your upper-body, arms and legs to balance on your tailbone, forming a "V" shape
  3. Lower your body down. That's one rep

Middle Abs

Part of the 'rectus abdominis' — your 'six-pack' muscles — the middle abs are crucial for lexing your spine and bring your pelvis and ribcage closer. Get your middle ab exercises right and you'll be building a stronger core from the get-go.

Try: Hollow Holds


  1. Lie on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your feet together. Extend your arms above your head
  2. Tilt your pelvis forward until your lower back is flush against the floor
  3. Maintaining this position in your lower back, raise your arms and legs a few inches off the floor to create a straight line from fingers to toes

Lower Abs

What: Your lower abs are vital for maintaining strength across your whole core. For people losing weight, their lower abs are often the last to emerge. If you're struggling too, here's a quick coaching tip:

Try: Heel Tap Crunches


  1. Lie on your back with your heels near your glutes.
  2. Brace your core, lift your shoulders off the floor and reach down to touch your right heel with your right hand, then your left heel with your other hand. That's one rep.

Why: This exercise predominantly targets the lower abs, obliques and hip flexors. By adjusting the distance between your heels and glutes, you can make it harder or easier. Control the movement by making slow extensions to maintain tension.

Your Ab Exercises and Six-pack Cheat Sheet

Of course, there's more to life — and to your training – than the ab exercises that we've prescribed in this article. The links, below, offer alternatives to your current training, alongside diet advice, physique know-how and workouts that will hit your abs and other areas of your body, such as your shoulders and your arms.

18 of the Best Ab Exercises

1. Barbell Floor Wiper

- Lie with your back flat on the floor and your arms extended holding the barbell above your chest.

- Keeping your arms fixed straight raise your legs up to the L-shaped position.

- Lower your leg down to each side then back up without touching the floor.

2. Medicine Ball Slam

- Standing up with your knees slightly bent lift the medicine ball directly over your head with your arms extended.

- Rise up on the balls of your feet and use your core muscles to throw the ball to the ground as you bend forwards at the waist.

- Catch the ball and repeat. The motion will not only train your abs but will also give you powerful shoulders.

3. Side Jackknife

- Lay on your side with your left arm extended out on the floor and you right arm bent to your head with your elbow bent out.

- Make sure your right leg is on top of your left.

- Bring your right elbow to your left leg as you raise your body up, contracting your obliques and slowly lower down before swapping sides after reps

4. Dragon Flag

- Lie back on the bench with your hands holding the bench behind your head.

- Bring your knees up to your chest and kick out to the ceiling, raising your body with just your shoulders on the bench.

- Keep your body straight and as you slowly move down. You'll not only feel the burn in your abs but in your lower back too.

5. Cable Woodchopper

- Set the cable machine to the highest position with and stand side on to the weights with your back to the machine.

- Grabbing the handle with both hands take a step away from the tower and put your feet shoulder width apart.

- Extend your arms fully and pull the handle down and across your body whilst rotating your torso.

- Bend your knees and pivot your back foot and slowly return to the start position, swapping sides after each set.

6. Cocoon

- Lay flat on your back with your arms extended behind your head and your feet slightly off the ground.

- Pull your knees towards your chest, lift your backside off the floor and lift your arms over your head as you perform a crunch and repeat.

7. Sandbag Sit-Up

- Lie with your back on the ground and you knees bent upwards.

- Hold a sandbag up above you with both extended arms and crunch forwards as you tense your core so your body performs a V shape with your thighs.

- Carefully lower down and repeat.

8. Hanging Leg Raise

- Grab a pull-up bar making a V shape with your arms and lower yourself into a dead hang.

- Put your feet together and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to your torso whilst keeping them straight.

- Slowly lower back to the starting position.

9. Superman With A Twist

- Lie on your stomach and place your hands on your head.

- Raise your torso and twist your chest from one side to the other.

- This move will not only target your abs but can also help combat that dreaded back pain.

Dish Rocks

- Sit up with your legs straight and extend your hands up above your head

- Raise your legs to make your body form a dish shape.

- Keep your body rigid as you rock back and forth to strengthen your core.

Barbell Roll Outs

- Load a barbell with 5kg plates and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.

- Position your shoulders directly over the barbell and slowly roll the bar forwards.

- Pause, then reverse the move.

- Roll out to a distance that's challenging, but doesn't force your hips to sag.

Russian Twists

- Sit holding the weight plate, dumbbell or kettlebell with your arms extended and feet off the floor.

-Under control, quickly twist at the torso, turning from side to side.

Hollow Holds

- Start lying on back with with your arms extended overhead on floor and legs straight resting on mat.

- At the same time, and with control, lift arms, head, shoulder blades, and legs off the floor.

Dumbbell Deadbugs

- With a dumbbell in each hand, lift your arms towards the ceiling.

- Raise your legs, your knees bent at 90º (A).

- Slowly extend your left arm and right leg simultaneously, keeping your back straight (B). Return, then repeat on the other side.

Bear Crawls

- Assume a press-up position with your knees bent at degree angles and directly underneath your hips. Your knees should be elevated.

- Without allowing your lower back to rise or round, brace your abs as if you were about to punched in the gut. Hold this contraction the entire time. This is your starting position.

- Walk” your right hand and left foot forward a few inches. Pause, and then return to the starting position.

- Next, “walk” your left hand and right foot forward. Return to the starting position.

Butterfly Sit-Ups

- Lie on the ground with your arms extended past your head.

- Bend your knees and have the soles of your feet facing one another so they're in a diamond shape.

- Crunch your abs to a sitting position as you reach forward with both hands to your feet.

Cable Crunch

- Attach a rope to a high pulley and kneel in front of it, with the handles held either side of your neck.

- Without moving your hips, contract your abs to bring your elbows to your thighs.

- Pause for a moment then slowly return to the starting position.

Overhead Crunch

- Lie on your back with your arms extended straight over your head so your body forms a straight line.

- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor then – keeping your arms locked – contract your abs to crunch your shoulders off the floor.

    Ab Workouts and Exercises

    Home Ab Workout: 10 Minute Burner Workout

    minute Workouts: Cored To Death

    Battle Ropes Abs Workout

    Ab Exercises With a Kettlebell: Eric Leija KB Flow

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    Edward CooperEd Cooper is the Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health UK, writing and editing about anything you want to know about — from tech to fitness, mental health to style, food and so much more.

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