Whether you’re rocking a bikini or just love fitting effortlessly into your favorite jeans, having 6-pack abs comes with all kinds of perks—and not just for your looks and confidence. Having toned abdominal muscles can improve both your posture and balance, which are essential for optimal health and performance.
You don’t have to be a gym rat or a body builder to have strong, solid abs. It’s more about choosing exercises that provide the biggest impact and are diverse enough to work out all of the muscles in the abdominal region. We’ve compiled our favorite abdominal exercises of all-time. No need for fancy equipment or lots of room—just consistency, determination and a healthy desire to see great results.
You gotta love Pilates for giving us some awesome core exercises! One of the best is The Hundred. It’s challenging, but easy to do anywhere. Here’s how:
- Lie on your back with your arms straight up and knees bent in a 90-degree angle. Your arms and thighs should be parallel to each other, while your calves and feet should be parallel to the floor.
- Gently lift your head and shoulders just off the floor and lower your arms so that they are straight and lifted slightly. Straighten your legs, keeping your spine flat on the floor. Curl your chin in toward your chest as if you were holding an apple between your chin and chest.
- Vigorously pump your arms 6 inches up and down, reaching with your fingertips.
- Inhale for 5 pumps and exhale for 5 pumps, for a total of 10 full breaths. Repeat 10 times.
- Note: Keep your lower back pressed toward the floor and keep your lower abs pulled in toward your spine throughout the entire workout.
You don’t have to be a superhero to master the Spiderman Plank Crunch, but it will have you feeling like you have abs of steel. Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a traditional plank position. Your forearms should be on the ground and the rest of your body should be perfectly straight, toes supporting your legs.
- Bend your right knee and bring it towards your right elbow, then return to the plank position.
- Repeat on the other side by bringing your left knee toward your left elbow.
- Do both sides for 1 rep. Complete a total of 10 reps.
They call this one the bicycle crunch because you move your legs as if you’re riding a bicycle. Does it sound easy? It is for the first couple of seconds, then you’ll really feel the burn. Here’s how it’s done:
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, and your legs raised and bent at 90 degrees.
- Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor and bring your right elbow toward your left knee, then bring your left elbow towards your right knee.
- Try and hold the crunch for 2 counts on each side to force a slower, concentrated movement.
- Keep your head and shoulders lifted up the entire time as you alternate sides, eventually building up to 60 seconds total.
The cross crunch works more muscles than a simple crunch for an all-around powerhouse move. Here’s how to reap the benefits:
- Lie flat on your back and bend your knees about 60 degrees.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your hands loosely behind your head.
- Curl up, bringing your right elbow and shoulder across your body and your left knee in toward your left shoulder.
- Go back down to the starting position and repeat with the left elbow and the right knee.
- Continue alternating in this manner for 25 or more reps.
- Note: Try to bring your shoulder up to your knee rather than just your elbow. Also, contract your abs as you move; don’t just move your elbow.
You’ll need a sturdy chair for this one, but don’t be fooled—the chair is only for support. The muscle toning is all on you. Here’s what you need to do:
- Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair. You can also use a step with four risers.
- Place your hands on the edge of the chair with your fingers pointed toward your knees.
- Tighten your abs and bring your toes 2 to 4 inches off the floor. Lift your butt off the chair.
- Hold this position for as long as you can, working up to 5 to 10 seconds.
- Lower yourself down and repeat.
- Continue for a total of 1 full minute.
This classic yoga move is not only a great core-building exercise; it also feels incredible after all that crunching. We recommend doing this one last for a torso-lengthening, feel-good stretch after a great ab workout. Here’s the skinny:
- Lie facedown on the floor with your arms bent and palms flat on the floor near your chest.
- Lift your head, shoulders and chest off the floor, pulling your shoulder blades down and together, while pressing your palms into the floor.
- Hold for 2 counts and then lower back down, repeating 8 to 10 times.
- Note: Want a more challenging move? Lift your thighs and hips off the floor into a plank position as you move through the exercise.