Ready to get those abs burning? We?ve rounded up the best of the best when it comes to ab exercises to give you absolutely everything you need to carve out that mid-section. These 10 top ab exercises will challenge you like no others and ensure you aren’t leaving results on the table.
Hitting the upper, lower, as well as middle abs, you can’t go wrong here. Combine these together, doing a few each and every workout and you?ll have an ab workout that gets you BIG results.
With your abs, variation is key. This muscles is incredibly fast to adapt, so it’s vital that you continually shock them with new challenges and keep them responding.
Not for the beginner, weighted cocoons will hit the entire core – upper, lower, and middle abs while also even calling your lats into play for stabilization.
To perform it, lay on a flat bench with the legs extended and slightly elevated while holding a pre-weighted barbell in both hands over the head. Extend the barbell as far back overhead as possible and then crunch up at the core, bringing the knees in and moving the weight overhead to meet them.
Pause and then reverse directions once again. When doing this exercise, hold the tension. You should aim to keep the tension on the muscles the entire time as this will ensure optimal activation and engagement.
Not quite ready for this level of difficulty? No problem. Try it without weight first for the beginner variation.
Hanging Knee Raises
Now head over to pull-up bar (or any overhead bar you can hold onto) and do some hanging leg raises. These are great for zeroing in on your lower abs, so if you would describe that as your problem region, it should be your go-to.
Hang in a completely motionless position and now, without swinging the legs and bringing momentum into the equation to help you, contract the abs and lift bent knees up as high as you can go.
The body should remain in a fixed position as best as possible.
Bicycle Crunch for Abs
The bicycle crunch is a classic that many people have done before but often don’t do correctly. Think about the last time you did a bicycle crunch. Did you crunch side to side as fast as possible in effort to get those reps in?
Slow and steady needs to be the name of your game. You want to focus on the mind-muscle connection here and ensure that it’s your core contracting to rotate the body from side to side. If you just swing yourself with momentum, very little muscle activation is taking place.
Lay on your back and then with the legs slightly elevated and hands by your heads, crunch up the upper body and bring the opposing knee up to meet the elbow.
Contract back down (without completely lying back down on the ground) and then switch sides and repeat.
When done right, this exercise will really target the upper abs, but in addition the lower abs as well.
Side Pillar Holds
Time for an isometric exercise! The side pillar hold is excellent for hitting the obliques and love handles region while still targeting the entire core.
Position yourself so you’re balancing on the forearm and feet with the body in a straight position with the body elevated above the ground.
Hold this for the designated time and lower once completed. NOTE: If at any point your body starts to drop or arc while doing this exercise, stop immediately. You?ve moved out of good form and should rest before trying again.
Be sure to perform to the other side to work both sides equally.
Hanging Leg Raise
Got the hanging knee raise down pat? If so, you’re ready for the advanced version: the hanging leg raise.
This exercise is done in the exact same manner with the same set-up only this time, rather than bringing the knees up to the chest, you’re bringing the entire legs upwards. Feel free to cross them if it’s more comfortable for you.
This is where many people start letting momentum take over the equation so be very diligent about avoiding that. The entire movement pattern should come, as much as possible, from your ab muscles contracting.
Air Sprints (Epic Ab Exercise)
If the V-cut is what you’re after, the air sprints are one of the best ab exercises to perform. This one is done by placing both hands on a parallel dip bars and then with the arms straight, balancing the body above the ground and moving the legs in a cycling movement.
This exercise will put both the core as well as the hip flexors to the test, so don’t be shocked if the next morning you are feeling it in both of these areas. Proper stretching after this exercise is a must!
Because you?ll have weight on your arms while you balance as well, you?ll likely notice your triceps getting exercise?as well.
Aim for 10 seconds at first and then work your way up as you go.
Dip ups are a variation on the classic dip exercise for the tricep so you?ll get a two-in one working both the abs and arms at the same time.
With this one, balance on the dip bars as you would if you were doing a set of dips and then as you lower yourself down, begin to press up but at the same time, raise the legs up as well. Your goal is to get your knees to touch the chest as you complete each rep.
Feeling too easy? Add a dumbbell between your feet as you do it for added resistance.
Remember contract the core. It’s very easy to let the hip flexors take over this movement if you aren’t careful.
Swiss Ball Crunch (Weighted)
When it comes to the Swiss ball crunch, most people perform this exercise incorrectly to pay attention. You don’t want to crunch forward, but rather, crunch up. This is what will help to really hit the ab muscles without just straining the neck and using momentum to carry you through.
Hold a plate directly above your head and then begin the upwards crunch movement. Lift up as high as you can and then lower back down to complete the rep. The feet should remain firmly planted on the floor at all times.
If you’re after the one of the best lower ab exercises, the bottoms up is it. This movement is performed by lying on the floor with the legs extended and arms by your sides.
From there, bring the legs up and lift the bum up off the ground as high as you can, feeling the tension build in the core as you do. Extend the legs as you lift them up and then bend the knees on the way back down again.
Remember that you are not lowering the legs all the way to down to a point of rest on the floor as you do this but rather only until they are extended but still hovering above the ground.
Finally, the last of the exercises you?ll want to be doing is the reverse crunch. This one is primarily going to target the lower ab exercises as it has you crunching up from the fully extended position.
The key to this exercise is making sure that you aren’t letting your feet fall to the floor, but instead, maintaining tension the entire way through. This will place continual stress on the lower abs, ensuring they get stronger.
The upper body should remain relatively motionless throughout this exercise. When done properly, this one is a great lower ab builder but will also hit the middle and upper abs as well.
Liked these ab exercises? Check out our other muscle exercises for more bodybuilding info!
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