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
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.
If the weather's nice, I can guarantee that you'll find me training outside. As much as I love dropping heavy weights, I love to be able to move without being confined to a set space. During a recent outdoor workout, I decided to do some agility work and then began playing around with some core strengthening exercises. Instead of crunches (I'm not a fan of them) and planks, I decided to really challenge myself. Push-ups and pikes alone are hard enough, and once you combine them together, you've got yourself an insanely hard core and arm exercise.
If you're watching this video like, "Damn, in my dreams," you can still work your way up to this move. Start by breaking down each movement, doing them individually without the sliders, and then as you become stronger, combine them together with the sliders.
How to Do a Push-Up and Pike
- Start in a plank position with each of your feet on top of a slider. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders, your spine should be in a neutral position, and your core should be engaged.
- Lower down into push-up as you simultaneously abduct your legs (moving them away from the midline of your body). If you can't complete a standard push-up, feel free to do a modified push-up on your knees.
- Press back up, returning to the starting position. From here, raise your hips up. Imagine that there's a string attached to your tailbone pulling you up. Lower back down to a plank position.
- This counts as one rep. Complete three sets of eight reps.
Jillian Michaels doesn't just design workouts for other people on her workout app My Fitness by Jillian Michaels, she actually practices what she preaches. The former The Biggest Loser trainer regularly posts workout videos to her Instagram page for a weekly dose of gym motivation.
Since Jillian works out primarily in sports bras and crop tops, we can't help but notice her flat tummy and carved ab muscles. So how does she get such definition? Through a number of core circuits and ab exercises that target even the hardest-to-hit spots. Although these exercises range from beginner to advanced, all of these moves will inspire you to mix up ab day and work those core muscles.
Scroll through some of Jillian's favorite ab moves and add them to your repertoire - your abs will be sore for days!
Ashley Graham puts in work at the gym. Whether she's lifting heavy at Dogpound or getting spotted by her sexy husband, the model is all the fitspo we need. She recently took ab day up a notch with a core exercise featuring her and celebrity trainer Dara Hart.
Dara posted this video on her Instagram feed and dubbed it the Buddy Push Pike. The exercise involves the partner on the bottom (Dara in the video) lying down and then rolling up into a seated position holding their partner's ankles. The person on top (Ashley in the video) faces down and holds on to their partner's ankles. As Dara rolls up, Ashley lifts her legs up into a pike position. They hold this position for a few counts, then roll back down and continue for a few reps.
No wonder Dara listed this as part of her #BuddyChallenge series - both moves really work your core and abs. Plus, it will test your balance, not to mention your patience with the other person. If you're looking to ramp up your core workouts, grab a partner, and get to work!
When Jillian Michaels puts in work at the gym, she's usually showing off her abs in a sports bra or crop top. Now, the fitness expert, who has her own workout app called My Fitness by Jillian Michaels, showed us how she gets her strong core and sculpted abs with a challenging circuit on her Instagram page.
The former The Biggest Loser trainer shared a core circuit that included four moves. Since some of the moves required a dumbbell and a pull-up bar, this is probably best performed at the gym. Jillian said to do 30 seconds per move and perform the circuit four times through. Although she doesn't indicate a rest time, try to rest no more than one to two minutes in between each circuit.
Although this workout is less than 15 minutes total, you will definitely feel the burn. These exercises work your whole core, which isn't just for vanity; core strength is important for helping with back pain, improving posture, and preventing everyday injury. Grab a dumbbell and get to work!
Crunches are an ab exercise I wish people would retire. They aren't that effective and can actually do more harm than good, especially if you're dealing with lower-back pain.
The 11 exercises ahead are great options if getting down on the floor is a hassle, you'd just rather not deal with the germs on the mat, or you're in need of new moves for your core routine.
Don't do all these moves at once unless you want to be extremely sore the following day. Instead, choose four to six exercises and add them into your workout, or do them alone for a quick ab blast.