May 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm , by jbrown
“What’s the secret to great abs?” When people find out I’m a personal trainer, this is always the first question they ask me. My answer? Variety. It’s not really a secret, and it’s definitely not the lone fix for a flabby midsection; obviously you need to do cardio and eat healthfully too. But when it comes to ab workouts, variety is often what’s missing. If you always do the same moves, your muscles get just as bored as you will—and you’ll stop seeing improvement.
To make it as easy as humanly possible for you to get out of your rut, I’ve rounded up 15 of my favorite ab exercises you can do anywhere—no gym or fancy equipment required. And these moves don’t just target the typically overtrained rectus abdominus (the most superficial of the ab muscles.) By working your core from all angles, you’ll get firm, flat and strong abs you’ve always wanted.
1. Side plank with bent knees
This move works your internal and external obliques, which run along the sides of your midsection. It also targets the often-neglected transverse abdominus (TVA), a deep layer of muscle that wraps around your torso like a corset. A strong TVA makes your abs look flatter, improves your posture and prevents lower back pain. If this move feels too easy, make it tougher by extending your knees straight and stacking one foot on top of the other.
2. Side plank with rotation
If you’re already a master of the side plank, add a twist.
3. Leg lift and lower
Another great exercise for your transverse abdominus. Don’t be fooled by how simple it looks!
5. Cheek to cheek
Target your obliques by adding hip dips to your plank.
6. Standing side crunch
Because standing ab moves like this side crunch require good balance, your whole core gets a workout.
7. Standing twist
The only equipment your need for this one is a water bottle!
8. Reverse curl
While there’s technically no such thing as upper and lower abs (it’s all one muscle, the rectus abdominus), certain exercises place more emphasis on one area over the other. The reverse curl challenges the lower abs.
9. Scissor kick
Another way to firm those lower abs.
10. The flights
Hit your upper abs and strengthen your upper back with this move.
11. Crunch/side-bend combo
You’ll feel this in your upper abs and obliques.
12. Cross-legged lift
One of my personal faves. It gives your hip flexors a bit of a stretch, and chances are they could use it—logging long hours at your desk makes your hips tight.
13. Toe touch
Trickier than your average crunch! No medicine ball? No problem—you can use a dumbbell, your kids’ basketball, etc.
14. Ab drag with booty lift
A move that firms your abs and boosts your butt at the same time? We’ll take it!
15. Core control
Another awesome multi-tasker. This exercise is particularly good for strengthening your lower back, which gets weak and overstretched if you’re always hunched over your computer.
Image via Shutterstock.
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