When people think of working out their “abs” they usually think of endless crunches or sit-ups, but it’s just a tad more complicated than that.
What they really should be thinking about are moves that work the entire core. Your core includes everything from the top of your shoulders to the creases below your butt, and are responsible for pretty much all coordinated movement and non-movement – that is from putting away groceries to sitting up at a desk.
So, to achieve that flat abs look, you’ll have to work your core hard (no pun intended). Here are 13 exercises that will target your core from all angles to help you achieve those flat abs in no time.
- Lie down on your back. Place your hands on top of each other underneath your tailbone to provide a bit of lower-back support.
- Raise your legs about 6 to 10 inches off the floor. Keep them straight as you flutter your feet up and down quickly, going for 30 seconds.
2. Dead Bugs
- Lie on your back, arms and legs straight up. Slowly bring one hand toward opposite foot, while releasing other arm and foot toward floor, keeping everything as straight as possible.
- Hold for one count and with the same snail pace, bring the limbs back to the start. Now do the other side. Go for 10 to 15 total reps (each side together is one).
3. Bear Crawls
- Start on all fours, on your hands and up on the balls of your feet.
- Walk yourself forward the length of your room, or if you’re short on space, four paces.
- Then reverse direction, bear-crawling your way back (or do four paces back). Repeat for 30 seconds total time.
4. Squats with Standing Side Crunches
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your hands behind your head, slowly squat down – focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.
- As you return to standing from your squat, bring the right elbow to the right knee to perform a side crunch. Alternate sides with every rep.
- Go for 10 to 15 total reps.
5. Bird Dogs
- Come down to all fours, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Extend one arm straight forward and the opposite leg straight back, foot flexed. Hold for a moment or several, focusing on making the longest line possible from fingertips to sole of foot while keeping shoulders and hips square to the ground. Bring both limbs back in, not touching down if you can help it, and repeat. The longer you hold the limbs out, the harder it is.
6. Glute Bridges
- Lie on your back, arms along your sides. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, heels as close to your butt as you can get ‘em.
- Press your feet hard into the floor (don’t let the heels pop up), and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up, so they’re fully extended and your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for a few seconds or longer, then lower down for a moment before pressing up once more. Do 10 reps.
7. Side Planks
- Come into a side plank on your right side, with your feet stacked one on top of the other and your weight on your right elbow with your fingers reaching away from your body, palm down. Squeeze your glutes and visualize your hip bones as laser beams that stay facing forward the whole time.
- Visualize a towel under your waist pulling you up toward the ceiling. Open your chest, and try to pull your resting forearm toward your feet. You will feel your lats and obliques engage!
- Slightly drop your waist down toward the floor, then bring back up to start position. Repeat 10 times on the right. Then switch sides and repeat 10 times on the left.
- Start standing.
- Hinge at the hips to place the hands on the floor (bending your knees if you need to).
- Take small steps forward with your hands until you’re in a straight-arm plank, hold for a moment, and then walk your hands back to your feet. Roll up to stand and repeat 10 times.
9. Russian Twists
- Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands, fingers interlaced, and pull your bellybutton in toward your spine to lift your shoulders up off the ground.
- Move your clasped hands to touch the outside of one hip, but keep your shoulders broad and square, resisting the urge to let your waist twist. Move your hands to the opposite hip, maintaining your form and not letting your shoulder blades drop. Repeat 10 times.
- Too easy? Hold a medicine ball or weight in both hands and move it from hip to hip, instead.
10. Lying Down Leg Raises
- Lie on your back, placing your hands underneath the sacrum (lowest part of the spine). Keeping your back flat, raise your feet up toward the sky, ideally straight and together (though a micro-bend in the knees is cool, too).
- With control, keep the legs extended and lower them slowly, as one unit, toward the ground — stopping the moment you feel your lower back wanting to pop off the floor. Hold and hover the legs for a moment; then, raise them back up to the sky. Do 10 reps.
- The slower you go on the raise and the longer you hover, the harder it is.
11. Windshield Wipers
- On your back, place your arms flat out on the ground like a T. Raise your legs up, feet to the sky.
- Keeping your legs glued together, lower them slowly to the side, going only as low as you can control without your hip lifting off the ground.
- Bring your legs back to center, then over to the other side. Do 10 sets. If keeping the legs straight isn’t happening yet, bend your knees.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor, arms extended overhead.
- Keeping your head neutral (nose toward the floor), squeeze your glutes, back, and shoulder blades to lift your arms and legs up off the floor. Hold for a beat, then lower down. Do 15 reps.
13. Mountain Climbers
- Start in a straight-arm plank.
- Walk your feet in slightly, so your butt pikes up toward the sky. Pick up one foot and drive your knee in toward your chest; then, quickly replace that foot and drive the other one up.
- It’s kind of like running in place with high knees, but your hands are on the ground. Too much for your shoulders? Place your hands on a bench or another slightly elevated surface. Climb for 30 seconds and work your way up to a minute.