Getting your abs to show isn't as simple as finding a magical lantern and telling a genie you want abs. Ultimately, you're going to need to eat really clean (I don't make the rules), lower your body fat percentage (this number will be different for everyone), and do core-sculpting exercises.
A great core-sculpting exercise that will leave you sore after about five reps is the glider knee tuck with a pike. It requires a lot of stability, and will leave you shaking after your first set.
How to Do a Glider Knee Tuck and Pike
- Start in plank position with a glider underneath each foot. If you don't have gliders, you can use a towel on a hard surface to perform this exercise.
- Engage your core and bring both knees in toward your elbows. With control, return to the starting position. Then, raise your hips as high as they can go. Your core should be engaged and your back should be in a neutral position throughout the entire movement.
- This counts as one rep. Complete three sets of 10 reps.
I'm all about efficient workouts and exercises, which is why the glider knee tuck and push-up has become one of my go-to moves. The push-up will help you improve your upper-body strength, and the knee tuck targets your abdominal muscles. You don't need to do many reps to feel your muscles working, which is another reason why I love it.
Add this exercise into your next bodyweight workout or use it to activate your core and arms before starting your workout.
How to Do a Knee Tuck With Push-Up
- Start in a plank position with a glider underneath each foot. If you don't have gliders, you can use a towel on a hard surface to perform this exercise.
- Engage your core and bring both knees in, toward your elbows. With control, return to the starting position. Then, do a push-up. Your core should be engaged and your back should be in a neutral position throughout the entire movement.
- This counts as one rep.
- Complete three sets of 10 reps.
Strengthening my abs is one of the most important parts of my training. Not because I want to show off my hard work on a beach in Bali, but because I want to prevent injuries. I learned the hard way how important core strength and stability are when I injured my back and spent a lot of money on physical therapy.
During my physical therapy sessions, I learned that my core - specifically my transverse abdominis - was weak and unstable, which meant my back was paying for it. Since getting injured, I've stepped up my core-strengthening game, and let me tell you, it's made all the difference.
One move that I like to do for strong abs is the hanging bicycle. It targets your rectus abdominis (aka the six-pack muscles), but you'll really feel it in the lower part of your rectus abdominis (aka your "lower abs").
How to Do a Hanging Bicycle
- Start by hanging on a pull-up bar with palms facing out, or use the ab straps and hang with your arms inside of them. Use a box or bench if you need help reaching the bar.
- Pull your shoulder blades down your back to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- Engage your abs as you bring your left knee up to your chest (or as high as it can go) with control. As you lower your left knee, repeat the same motion on the right side. This counts as one rep.
- Without swinging, continue to cycle your legs. Complete two sets of 15 reps.
Celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson - yup, the one who trains the Kardashians, Kate Beckinsale, and the Los Angeles Lakers - wants to help you improve your core workout and make it as effective as possible.
"Your core wraps around your entire body and supports you," Gunnar told POPSUGAR. He explained that when it comes to strengthening the core, most people solely focus on the rectus abdominis (commonly referred to as the six-pack) instead of the entire core (internal obliques, external obliques, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis).
"When it comes to abs . . . there's a ton of work done in flexion and maybe at the most in extenstion," he said. According to Gunnar, this is "great" but not comprehensive. To completely work your core, Gunnar created this workout exclusivey for POPSUGAR while promoting his partnership with MitoQ. It's five moves, can be done anywhere, and will work your lower back, the top of your glutes and thighs, and obliques; what Gunnar constitutes as a complete core workout.
How to Do the "Around the World" Ab Workout
- Toe touch: 20 reps
- Side plank with hip dip (right side): 10 reps
- Superman: 10 reps
- Side plank with hip dip (left side): 10 reps
- Plank (optional): 30, 45, or 60 seconds
My style of training is all about strength, power, and speed. There are so many things you can do with strength, but one of my favorite things to work on in my personal workouts and with clients is unilateral movements. Why? Because you can isolate specific muscles and help reduce and eliminate muscular imbalances.
There are so many unilateral movements you can do such as pistol squats and a single-arm chest press (another great core move), and one of my favorites is the deadlift with a knee drive.
Deadlifts are one of the best exercises you can do for overall strength. With the addition of the knee drive, you're forced to work on your balance and core strength. Put it all together, and you've got yourself an intense compound exercise - multijoint movements that work groups of large muscle.
How to Do a Deadlift With a Knee Drive
- If you're a beginner, you can do this exercise without weight. For more advanced levels, grab a set of dumbbells. Ten pounds is a good starting point.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand tall.
- Engage your core and keep your spine neutral as you begin to hinge at your hips, pushing your hips backward. At the same time, lift your left leg off the ground. Be sure to keep your left foot dorsiflexed (don't point your toes). Continue to hinge at your hips until your back is parallel to the ground; your leg should be in line with your back. Your back should be flat, and your head/neck should be in a neutral position.
- Return to your standing position without placing your left foot on the ground. Once you're upright, drive your left knee up, creating a 90-degree angle at your knee joint. Your left foot should still be dorsiflexed. Be sure to stay tall and keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement. This counts as one rep.
- Complete three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Doing crunches every day in the gym can become extremely boring - not to mention the fact that they aren't good for you back. Instead, consider a challenging core workout like the one Kelsey Wells, NASM-certified trainer, recently shared on her Instagram.
This workout won't take long to do, and you'll definitely feel your core working (and shaking) after the first round. If you're ready to upgrade your ab workout, continue reading.
The Ab Workout
In her Instagram caption, Kelsey said, "Perform all exercises continuously," followed by one minute of rest. Repeat for a total of four to five rounds.
Don't forget to check out how she performs each move in the video above.
Jillian Michaels is no stranger to a challenge circuit. The fitness guru loves inspiring (or torturing?) people with workouts on her Instagram page and workout app, My Fitness by Jillian Michaels. On Nov. 29, Jillian upped the ante with a core-focused circuit she dubbed a "tummy tightening workout."
The workout included V-ups with a bar, a plank variation with a push-up, and bicycle crunches with a medicine ball. Jillian recommends to do each move for 30 seconds for four rounds total. Jillian makes every exercise look easy, but you will definitely feel the burn after the first 30 seconds. This workout won't just ignite your abs but your whole core.
If you're looking to spice up your ab day or want to get in a quick workout at home, try these moves. Just be warned - it may hurt to laugh the next day.
As a CrossFitter, having a strong core is essential because it makes everything easier: burpees, squats, box jumps, and pull-ups, to name a few. Aside from AbMat sit-ups, we actually rarely do strict ab exercises. Most of the elements of a CrossFit workout are total-body, so you end up getting an intense ab workout without a single crunch. These are the core-strengthening exercises I swear by.
It's important to note that doing these exercises won't automatically make your six-pack appear overnight. "There are really no exercises to reduce belly fat; unfortunately, this is the age-old myth," Jade Jenny, head CrossFit coach and owner of Champlain Valley CrossFit, told POPSUGAR. "People think they can get abs, and just abs." It may surprise you to hear a CrossFit coach say that "reducing belly fat ultimately comes down to how you eat," but it's true.
In order to lose belly fat, you need to reduce your overall body fat percentage by dialing in your diet, eating whole foods, ditching the junk, and creating a calorie deficit. You can do these exercises to stay strong, and once you get leaner, get ready for your abs to pop!
Try saying tabata fives times fast. OK, now that you're more than likely smiling and we've got that out of the way, it's time to seriously talk about tabata.
It's a high-intensity interval style of training where you perform an exercise all out for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You alternate between the two intervals for eight rounds for a total of four minutes. Because the goal is to go all out during the 20-second intervals, it shouldn't take long for your muscles to fatigue.
If this sounds like your type of thing, give NASM-certified personal trainer Kelsey Wells's tough tabata workout a shot.
The Tabata Workout
Because you'll be doing these exercises at a maximum intensity, we recommend doing a dynamic warmup before getting started. Complete 20 seconds of each exercise in the order listed, take 10 seconds of rest, and then advance to the following exercise. Repeat for a total of three to four rounds. To prevent extreme soreness, be sure to stretch and foam roll afterward.
You know losing belly fat is all dependent on what you eat, not just doing a million crunches every day. But once you get leaner by eating a healthy, balanced diet, you'll want to reveal a strong, chiseled core. You don't need equipment to make that happen! These are the best bodyweight moves to get you a six-pack. Choose five or more to create your own core-carving workout.