Best Bodyweight Ab Exercises

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by Greatist
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Best Bodyweight Ab Exercises

Getting a stronger core doesn’t have to involve shunning carbs and spending hours on end in the gym. Enter a simpler (and much more sane) way to tone and strengthen your stomach: bodyweight exercises.

After all, your abs exist for more reasons than looking good at the beach. The core (composed of the oft-mentioned upper and lower abdominals as well as the side, back, psoas, and glutei muscles) provides a muscular framework that protects internal organs, aids movement, and lends balance and stability to the whole body.

Mix and match any of the exercises in the gym or at home to work on deep core strength. And don’t forget that proper nutrition plays a huge role in seeing the results you want, so be sure to supplement your workouts with healthy meals and high-protein snacks.

Vertical Leg Crunch
Targets: Upper abdominals

vertical leg crunch

Lie flat on the floor with lower back pressed to the ground. Place hands behind head. Extend legs straight up, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract abdominal muscles by lifting torso toward knees. Make sure to keep chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

V-Ups
Targets: Upper abdominals

V-ups

Lie faceup with legs and arms extended. Keeping knees and elbows locked, simultaneously raise upper body and lower body while trying to touch fingers to toes.

Raised Knee-In
Targets: Lower abdominals

raised knee-in

Lie on back, arms along sides, palms down and just under lower back and butt. Press the small of your back against the floor and extend legs outward, with heels about 3 inches above the floor. Keeping lower back against the floor, lift left knee toward chest. Your right leg should remain hovering above the floor. Hold, then straighten left leg to the starting position and repeat with right leg.

Reverse Crunch
Targets: Lower abdominals

reverse crunch

Lie flat on the floor with lower back pressed to the ground. Place hands behind head or extend out alongside body. Crossing legs at ankles, lift feet up. Pull lower back off the floor as you contract abs. Reach legs toward the ceiling with each contraction.

Flutter Kicks
Targets: Lower abdominals

flutter kicks

Lie faceup with legs extended, toes pointed, and hands tucked underneath glutes to support lower back. Lift both legs off the floor a few inches and alternately kick legs up and down.

Side Plank
Targets: Obliques

side plank

Lie on side with lower arm bent at the elbow. Place lower elbow beneath shoulder and place upper hand on hip. Align ankles, hips, shoulders, and head. Push body toward the ceiling, balancing on the edge of your bottom shoe with one foot directly over the other.

Lying Side Crunch
Targets: Obliques

lying side crunch

Lie on on your side with knees bent at a right angle and twisted to the left. Curl upper body, lifting shoulders off the floor a few inches. Pause at the top of the contraction and slowly lower back down. Switch sides and repeat.

Oblique V-Up
Targets: Obliques

oblique v-up

Lie on side, arms folded across chest. Keeping legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise top elbow toward hip. Place opposite hand on the floor if you need extra stability.

Russian Twist
Targets: Obliques

russian twist

Sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Hold arms straight out in front of chest, with palms facing down. Lean back so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Twist to the right as far as you can, pause, then reverse movement and twist to the left.

Toe Taps
Targets: Lower abdominals

toe taps

Lie on back and place hands behind ears. Lift legs to tabletop position (90-degree angle). Press lower back into floor and crunch forward until shoulders are off the floor. With toes pointed down, lower right foot as far as you can without lifting back off the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with left leg.

V-Tuck
Targets: Upper and lower abdominals

v-tuck

Lie faceup with legs extended and arms along sides. Raise head a few inches. Lift legs off ground, then slowly sit up, drawing knees to elbows directly over hips. Hold, then slowly lower torso and extend legs, keeping head and feet slightly off the ground.

Want 10 more ways to work your core? Check out these moves.

About the Author

Greatist
Greatist

Greatist helps you find what’s good for you. Not like “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” More like “here are some choices you can realistically make, stick with, and feel really good about.” Because in the end, you don’t have to choose between being happy and being healthy; they’re really the same thing.

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