Best Core Exercises for Killer Abs
A lot of people want a six-pack and do core exercises for that purpose. But there’s more to having killer abs than just looks. Having a strong core also benefits posture and balance and can even help with back pain. Core exercises should be a part of anyone’s fitness routine.
It’s important to only work the core 1-3 times per week. The core can be overworked (just like any other muscle group), and when that happens it prevents results from happening. Effective core exercises can be done in 10-15 minutes, so you can easily fit them in after another workout.
1. Bicycle Crunches
In my book, these are the king of crunches. Not only do they work your upper AND lower abs (which is hard to do), they also work your obliques! Goodbye, love handles. Even your quads get a good workout in during these crunches. Bicycle crunches are my go-to ab move.
To properly do a bicycle crunch, lie flat with your legs raised. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle. Put your hands behind your head just like a regular crunch. You’re going to move your shoulders to the opposite knees. For example, your left shoulder will come off the floor toward your right knee. The left leg will simultaneously be straightened. Then you switch sides. Essentially you’re pretending to pedal a bike. The slower you go the better you’ll work your abs.
2. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts target your lower abs (yay!). This can be a harder move for beginners, but you can modify by not going as low. Start by laying on your back with your hands slightly underneath your lower back for support. Bring your legs up straight, pointing to the ceiling. Then slowly lower your legs towards the floor, keeping them straight. When you lower them, keep your heels together but your toes pointing out a bit to avoid stress on your hip flexors.
3. Flutter Kicks
Targeting your lower abs as well as the quads, flutter kicks are another great move to get killer abs. Lay on your back with your hands underneath your lower back. Bring your legs slightly above the ground and alternate kicking your legs. You want to do small, controlled kicks. If you find the move too hard, you can raise your legs higher above the ground. If you want to make the move more challenging and activate your upper abs, you can raise your shoulders and head off the ground.
4. Russian Twists
Russian twists work best with a dumbbell, plate, or medicine ball, but you can still do them without any equipment. Sit on the floor with your knees bent about 45 degrees and your heels resting on the floor. Grab the weight with both hands (or clasp the hands together if you don’t have a weight) and alternate bringing it over your left hip and then the right hip. This will result in a twisting motion. Make sure to keep your heels planted on the ground to provide stability. Russian twists are great for working the abs as well as the obliques.
Planks are a total body workout, but they are very effective at working the core. In plank position, your core is activated to provide stability and support to the rest of your body. You can either plank with your arms straight (like the start of a push-up) or you can do a forearm plank. Either way, you want to keep your back flat and avoid the urge to raise your butt up like a stinkbug.
Start with a 30-second plank and add 5-10 seconds each time you do a core workout. This setup will gradually challenge your abs without overworking them. An alternative setup is to plank for 10 seconds and rest for 10. Then get back into plank position and repeat. You can do 5-6 sets for your full plank move.
Killer Abs Aren’t Made Overnight
Abs are tricky. If you’re trying to lose belly fat and tone your stomach, you won’t get there by just doing core exercises. Abs are also made in the kitchen. Diet plays a huge role in getting killer abs. Avoid artificial sugars, soda, candy, chips, cookies, simple carbs, and other processed foods. Focus on vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, whole grains, and fruit. Just remember that it takes time–so be consistent in both your diet and exercise and soon you’ll start to see those ab muscles forming.
This post is part of the series “Best At-Home Workouts – Get Toned at Home.” Check out more posts from the series below.
We are not medical professionals. Always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program or nutritional supplement.