When it comes to strengthening your abs, keeping it simple is key. These core exercises are classic for a reason.
Photo: Rony Shram
- Spider Plank: Start on floor in plank, balancing on hands and toes. Keep hips level and bend left knee out toward left triceps [shown, left]. Return to plank, switch sides, and repeat to complete 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Double-Leg Stretch: Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides. Curl head and shoulders off floor, then raise arms overhead (biceps by ears) and legs up at 45-degree angle to start. Keeping upper body lifted throughout, bring knees toward chest and circle arms around, touching palms to outside of knees [shown, center]. Extend legs and raise arms overhead to starting position to complete 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Side Plank Twist: Start on floor in side plank position, balancing on left palm and sides of feet, right foot in front of left; bend right elbow and place palm behind ear to start [shown, right]. Rotate torso to bring right elbow to inside of left elbow. Return to starting position to complete 1 rep. Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Routines with Built-in Core Tighteners
Certain workouts double as strength sessions for your abs. “When you increase your intensity or load during total-body movements, your ab muscles naturally brace,” Olson says. “That action really works the transverse.” Here’s the way to multitask.
- Swing a kettlebell. Your transverse braces to stabilize your core as you bring the kettlebell’s swing to a full stop, especially during one-handed moves.
- Lift bigger dumbbells. Add a little more heft to your reps—weighted squats, biceps curls, yes, you name it—and “the heavier the load, the more bracing will occur,” Olson says.
- Do sprintervals. Your abs will engage as you pump your arms harder, and the HIIT will help burn more ab fat than if you stuck with steady cardio.