Washboard abs will keep your partner happy and boost your self-confidence with every outfit you put on. So get ready to pull those tight pants out of your dresser and start the best abdominal exercises.
Though getting the abs you want largely depends on your genetic disposition and body fat percentage, these are all the exercises you might need to strengthen your core.
Just a note: though achieving great abs is always going to be about body fat percentage and genetic disposition, these are all great exercises for anyone looking to strengthen their core and hopefully gain more ab definition.
Abs Exercises No Equipment Required
There are plenty of great exercises you can do without buying any special equipment.
Unlike other body parts, you can train your abdominal muscles every day. You can do many of these exercises with little to no equipment in the comfort of your home. These exercises should be done in 2-3 sets of 15-25 reps or 2-3 sets of 60-second intervals. The rest between sets should be between 30-60 seconds. Each of the exercises below has links to videos where you can watch them demonstrated.
Reverse Push Up
Reverse pushups will work out your shoulders, chest, triceps, upper back, and lower back, in addition to your core.
- Keep a steady base with your hands under your shoulders and slowly lower your feet on the ground.
- Squeeze your quads, glutes, and tighten your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise when you are cutting.
- Drive your butt towards your heels, and then lock your arms out at the top of the motion.
Bear Crunch Exercise
- Start on the ground with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips.
- From this ground position, raise your knees an inch or two off the ground using your hands and toes to support your body weight to engage your core.
- Rotate your body to one side, keeping one foot and opposite arm planted.
- Touch your knee to your opposite elbow, of your limbs not planted to the ground.
- Repeat this motion, alternating sides.
- Remember to always drive your back foot into the ground for power.
The Bird Dog Exercise
You can use the bird dog as a warm-up exercise in addition to an abdominal workout.
- You can do 5 to 15 reps per side in a set. Three sets is a sufficient workout.
- Start with a strong base of your hands under your shoulders and knees directly beneath your hips.
- Point your toe when your leg is fully extended, but make sure to keep it straight.
- After a left arm and right leg extension, slowly lower your leg, and touch your knee to your opposite elbow for a more challenging variation.
Single-Arm Wall Push Up Ab Exercise
If the name weren’t obvious enough, you’d need a wall to perform this exercise. So, unfortunately, this can’t be done in an open field.
- The wall should be an arm’s length away from your starting position to maintain proper form.
- Keep your feet broad for a strong base.
- Mix in a push-up rep in-between walk-up reps to make this more challenging.
- Clench your core and abdominal for the duration of each movement.
Lateral Wall Run Exercise
Running at an angle will increase muscle strength by forcing your body to work harder than it would during a regular run. Lateral runs will result in better balance, flexibility, and coordination.
- Drive your foot furthest from the wall into the ground. At the same time, pull your knee towards your chest.
- Do 8 to 12 reps before switching sides.
Inchworm Slide Exercise
For best results, perform inchworm slides on a hardwood floor, where standing on a towel would easily slide along the surface. You can also do inchworm slides on a carpet, with a Frisbee or book beneath your feet to slide, making this an exercise you can do in your home.
- Keep your arms strong and stabilized in a push-up position.
- Pull your toes towards your hands, engaging your strong core throughout the motion.
- Once your feet are as close to your hands as possible, slide your feet back to the original position.
Mogul Jumps Exercise
- Start on your hands and knees, and then slightly lift your knees off the ground using your toes and hands as support.
- Rotate your belly button, hips, and chest in one direction as you hop your legs to that side.
- Keep your spine in a straight line with the rest of your body.
- With your legs already to one side, hop directly to the opposite side instead of going back to the starting position first. Watch your lower back.
Figure 8 Pelvic Tilt
The figure 8 pelvic tilts primarily focus on hamstrings, glutes, and pelvic hip muscles.
- To remove your quads from the workout, lift your toe on the foot planted on the ground.
- Squeezing your glutes the whole time will maximize your results.
- Make sure to get a total hip extension at the top of the motion.
- Thrust upwards as soon as your butt touches the ground at the bottom of the motion.
Squat Thrust with Twist
Twisting squat thrusts help challenge your balance and posture.
- Start with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, chest up, and shoulders back and lower back straight.
- Squat with your forearms overlapping at chest level.
- At the bottom, rotate to one side, then turn back to center before standing up. Repeat this process by twisting to the other side on your next repetition.
Rotating Side Plank
Rotating side planks are a variation that you can mix into your regular plank routine.
- Lift one arm off the mat, pointing it straight up in the air while opening your body and turning to that side.
- Hold that plank position for 30-60 seconds or even longer if you can.
- If you cannot hold that position for extended periods, just keep it briefly before returning to a regular plank quickly alternating sides.
- Rotating side planks build strong abdominals, oblique muscles, and lower back.
- Start in a push-up position, starting with your feet together.
- The first touch is bringing your leg beneath your body, twisting your hips, and extending your foot to one side so that your leg is perpendicular to your arms.
- Next, bring the foot back to the middle starting position for the second touch.
- For the final touch, bring that same foot extended to the opposite side as touch number one.
- Repeat these steps for the other foot and do as many touches as you can in one minute.
- Raise your feet and bend your knees back towards your chest. Then curl your head, neck, and shoulders and raise your hands a few inches from the ground. Then extend your legs at a 45-degree angle into a Pilates stance.
- Vigorously pump your arms up and down.
- Breathe in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth.
- If you start to get tired, it’s ok to bend your knees slightly.
Exercises with Equipment Required
For this section, check out my list of recommended Ab Machines:
- Torso Rotation Machine – Adjust the pad and weight accordingly before rotating your knees from side to side.
- Crunch Machine – Sit down with your feet underneath the pads, and grab the handles, so your arms form a 90-degree angle. Crunch down slowly and continue breathing correctly.
- While kneeling, grab with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your arms straight, inhale and roll the bar forward as far as you can.
- If this is too difficult, do this in front of a wall to limit your range of motion.
- Get on your knees in front of a cable machine.
- Keep your hips fixed in a stationary position holding a cable by your head.
- Bring your chest towards your knees.
- Lock your feet. Push the small of your back into the bench to isolate the stomach as you crunch forward. That's one rep.
- Keep your shoulders about 4 inches off the bench, focusing on slow and controlled movements.
Lower Abs Exercises
Decline Reverse Crunch
- Raise your legs towards your chest, rolling your pelvis upward.
- Lift your hips off the bench bringing your knees towards your elbows.
- Hold the contraction at the top of the movement for one second.
Flat Bench Leg Pull-in
- Sit down with your hips at the edge of a flat bench.
- Hold the bench sides with your hands, lean back slightly, and extend your legs parallel to the floor.
- Pull your legs towards your torso while bending your knees, contracting the abdominals at the top.
Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
- Lay on a bench with your palms under your butt and legs hanging off the edge.
- Raise your legs until they form a 90-degree angle at the hip, slightly raising your hips at the top. That's one rep.
- Place a dumbbell in-between your feet for added resistance if needed.
Hanging Leg Raises
- Hang from a pull-up bar with both arms fully extended and your legs dangling below you.
- Raise your legs until they form a 90-degree angle with your torso. That's one rep.
- Hanging leg raises a more advanced movement and can cause lower back pain if not correctly.
Decline Oblique Crunch
- Start with your upper body raised off the bench to about 40-degrees from the ground.
- Place your right hand on the side of your head, and your left hand on your thigh.
- Slowly raise your body, turning your torso while bringing your elbow to the opposite knee. That's one rep.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Place your right hand and left hand behind your head and drop both knees to one side.
- Lift your shoulder blades off the mat without pulling on your head. Do 20-25 reps before switching your knees to the opposite side.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, feet off the ground, knees slightly bent, and your torso upright.
- Grab the plate with both hands. Position it in front of your abdominals with a slight bend in your arms.
- Twist your upper body touching the plate to the floor on your left side, and then alternating it to the floor on your right side.
- These have the same starting position as a plate twist, without the weight.
- The twisting should be done in a controlled motion while focusing on controlled breathing and managing your balance.
- If you want to add some weight, try a light medicine ball rather than a heavy plate.
You need to work hard for abdominal muscles. Following the proper diet and exercise guidelines in this article will have you showing off your toned, flat stomach in no time! Don't forget to look at my list of the best ab machines for equipment to assist in your quest for rock-hard washboard abs.
Many women can become too concerned with the number they see on their bathroom scale. You might think if that number is getting higher, something is wrong. A proper bulking regimen may add a couple of pounds to your scale, but the results in your mirror will tell a different story.
The basic concept of bulking is to consume more calories than you are burning off in your workout. If you are looking for some clean foods to add to your bulking diet, try chicken, turkey, rice, pasta, fish, eggs, peanut butter, steak, and yogurt. Usually, people do ab exercises in sets of about 20 repetitions.
During bulking, pick three ab exercises per day that involve some weights or added resistance. Do reps of 10-12 for three sets each to increase the size of your abs. Some of the exercises options to chose from are cable crunches, Russian twists, hanging right leg raises, decline crunches, and abdominal machines. I've outlined these exercises in detail below.
Cutting for abs
One excellent way to prepare for summer or a vacation where you'll be in a bathing suit is to implement a cutting routine before your trip. Typically, cutting takes place in the months after you finish bulking. The majority of food choices for your cutting diet can remain the same as your bulking diet if you just eat less of them; these are all healthy foods.
Make sure to drink plenty of water while you are cutting. Don’t think that cutting means you have to starve yourself! You should still be eating three meals per day, with a snack or two mixed in if need be. Continue to eat high protein foods, but cut out some of the carbs like bread and pasta.
An essential aspect of both bulking and cutting is cardiovascular workouts. During the bulking phase, skipping cardio can cause you to gain fat from the excess calories instead of gaining pure muscle. When you are cutting, cardio exercises help ensure that fat gained from your bulking phase gets burned off.
Running, biking, and swimming are all cardio exercises that you can pair with these workouts. Other activities focused on a solid core can double as a cardio workout if you do them quickly when you cut cardio, 60 seconds or longer. Some of these exercises include wall push-ups, hot potato squats, mogul jumps, and kettlebell juggling, all outlined in the above article.
Take note: Going through certain time periods of bulking and cutting is helpful, but consult a fitness professional for best results. Remember that hat the body cannot remain in a “starvation” mode for long periods of time without experiencing drawbacks in other areas of your health, specifically within the central nervous system.
It is important to go through seasons of cutting and bulking or finding a maintenance regimen. It is not a good idea to remain in a cutting session without supervision for more than a month at a time. You must give your body time to adapt before introducing something new and proven. Then you’ll start seeing results.
Consuming well-rounded meals (with healthy fats, fiber, and plenty of protein) can be an effective strategy to take in critical nutrients without gaining weight.
Questions and Answers
What are the most effective ab exercises?
- The Ab Rocker
- Basic Crunches
- Straight Leg Sit-Ups
- Standing Dumbbell Side Bend
- Russian Twist
How do you get ripped abs fast?
Apart from the extensive list of ab exercises above, you’ll also want to:
- Do More Cardio Exercises - You’re going to have to lean up so that your abs even appear.
- Reduced Consumption of Processed Food
- Increase Your Protein Intake - Consume more protein
- Stay Hydrated - Getting tight, toned abs requires you to get enough water.
- Try High-Intensity Interval Training - For information on starting HIIT as a beginner, click here.
- Reduce Refined Carbs
- Get more fiber in your diet
Can I get a six-pack in 30 days?
You’d have to do many exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, plank position, and even pull-ups to tone your abdominal muscles. To define your muscles and work your inner core, you can do butterfly crunches, side planks, and bridges. But the most crucial part of all of this is doing cardio six days a week.
Is it reasonable to do abs exercises daily? How many times a week should I do abs to get a six-pack?
You can train abs daily, but it’s probably not necessary. Though abs can be trained more frequently than other muscle groups, rest and recovery are always wise. Training every other day is ideal, or you can arrange like two days on, one day off.
Do abs need a rest day?
Yes, they do. It’s a good idea to make sure your. But abs don’t generally require the same amount of rest as other muscles.
Can abs workouts lose belly fat?
No, you can’t lose belly fat through ab exercises alone. There are no exercises targeting belly fat; you have to focus on total body fat loss. For more details, check my guide on burning belly fat.
Can ab workouts cause a hernia?
Dr. Michel Rosen said that hernias are unavoidable and have never been linked to heavy lifting or any particular exercise. For more details on this topic, I recommend consulting a medical professional.