Setting yourself the target of training your abs? Whether you're looking to get a 6 pack or to improve your core strength, these exercises are a great choice! As well as strengthening your core, training your abs will also strengthen the muscles around your spine and help to improve your posture. Sounds like the perfect exercise solution, right? Well, it doesn’t stop there; abdominal exercises also help improve blood flow and are super beneficial for our hearts. So, if you're struggling on where to start, don’t worry, our top 10 ab building exercises are here to help.

Level: Beginner - Intermediate / Equipment: Exercise Mat, Resistance Bands, Ankle Weights Focus: Abdominal Muscles / Toning

Although many ab building exercises can be done without any equipment, we always recommend carrying out floor-based exercises on an exercise mat, to cushion your body from the floor and prevent you from slipping. Also, adding weights or resistance bands can increase the intensity of your workout, allowing you to reach your ab goals even quicker. Luckily, we have a variety of exercise mats, stability equipment and resistance bands which are the perfect additions to your ab workouts.

1. Mountain Climbers

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart and your feet stretched out together behind you.
  2. With your core engaged, bring your knee up towards your chest, then return to the starting position and repeat on your opposite knee. 
  3. Keep going for a set amount of time or however many reps suits you.

This might sound simple, but don’t be fooled. Simple does not mean ineffective. Mountain climbers are a compound exercise as they utilise multiple muscles, making them very effective at building abs. These will have you feeling the burn for sure! 

This exercise is great on its own, but if you're looking for a challenge, why not add some ankle weights, too?

2. Plank Walk Out

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Begin by bending forward and placing your hands on the floor. Remember to keep your core tight!
  3. From here, walk your hands forward until you’re in the plank position.
  4. Hold for a few seconds before walking your hands back up and returning to your starting position.

Planks aren't just excellent for building abs, they’re also beneficial in overall body strengthening, stability, flexibility, balance, posture, and endurance. 

This is an easy exercise to add into your routine, as no extra equipment is needed.

3. Bicycle Crunch

  1. Start by lying down on your mat with your back as flat as possible to the floor.
  2. Place your hands behind your head and, making sure your head and shoulders are lifted from the mat, begin raising your knees to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Now alternate extending your legs, a bit like pedalling a bike!
  4. As you are alternating legs, twist your torso and bring your elbow to the opposite knee.

These are great for toning up your core and slimming down your waist. Plus, they're a great choice for anyone wanting to improve stability, flexibility, and coordination.  

Looking to work on your hips and thighs, too? Why not add a hip band for the extra burn!

4. Sit Up

  1. Start by lying flat on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Engage your core muscles and slowly raise your upper body, keeping your back straight and your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  3. Pause for a moment in a seated position, then lower your upper body back up to the starting position.

Sit-ups are great for improving the flexibility in your back and hip muscles, which can help improve circulation and reduce stress.

If you find sit-ups quite challenging, try using a balance trainer behind you to decrease the distance you need to raise your body.

5. Plank

  1. Begin face down with your forearms and toes on the floor.
  2. Place your elbows under your shoulders with your forearms facing forward.
  3. Now you’re in position, hold a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. 
  4. Challenge yourself to see how long you can hold the pose.

An all-time core classic, the plank is a known ab burner. It's also perfect for beginners due to minimal movement and therefore less room for error. 

Once you've mastered the plank, try adding a balance pad, balance board or wobble cushion. They're a great way to add instability and increase core muscle engagement.

6. Dead Bug

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your knees bent in the air at a 90-degree angle.
  2. With your lower back grounded and your core is engaged, begin to lower one arm while simultaneously extending your opposite leg.
  3. Continue alternating your arms and legs. Focus on completing this exercise slowly with control.  

A wise choice for beginners starting their exercise journey. Unlike other abdominal exercises, it's easier on your neck and beck when executed incorrectly.

You can also try our take on the dead bug by holding your arms behind your neck with a small loop band and focussing strictly on your leg movements.

7. Leg Raises

  1. Start by lying down with your back flat on your mat and your legs straight.
  2. Raise your legs until they’re vertical or as close as you can get to that point.
  3. Lower your legs back down to the mat and then repeat the process. 

Leg raises aren't just great for core strengthening, but for stabilising other muscles. As a result, they're quite an advanced exercise for building abs.

We love doing this exercise with a gym ball or Pilates ball between our legs to really test our stability.

8. Bird-Dog

  1. Similar to the dead bug, the bird-dog requires you to move opposite arms and legs in tandem.
  2. Begin on your hands and knees with your hands placed below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  3. Raise and then extend one arm while doing the same with the opposite leg.
  4. Alternate sides with each rep. 

The bird-dog targets abs, lower back, butt, and thighs, making it an excellent choice for building abs and general muscle strengthening.

Due to it being a bodyweight exercise, it can be easily integrated into your everyday routine as the only equipment required is a mat.  

9. Scissor Kicks

  1. Start by lying on your back with your arms extended by your sides and your palms facing the floor, or under your glutes if you’d prefer.
  2. Make sure your core is engaged and your lower back is pressed against your mat.
  3. From here, bring your legs together. While keeping them straight, lower one leg towards the mat and lift your alternate leg upwards to create a scissor effect. 

As well as targeting your lower abs, scissor kicks work your quads, lower body, and core. Plus, they're great for strengthening your hip flexors.

If you're finding it too easy, add some ankle weights, or increase the reps you do before resting.

10. Knee Lifts

  1. Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms by your side or your hands on your hips.
  2. Keeping one foot firmly planted on the floor and your core tight, lift one knee up in front of you until your thigh is parallel with the ground.
  3. Pause for a moment in this position and then return to the starting position, ready to repeat the process.  

Knee lifts are one of the best exercises for targeting your lower abs and working out your entire core. 

Adding a small loop band is a great way to challenge your balance and ab strength.

The Importance of Nutrition

People often overlook the role of nutrition when trying to build their abs. This is a common mistake and one that many people make. However, having a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important elements needed to increase abdominal strength. Therefore, combining a nutritional diet with ab building exercises will boost your chances of achieving optimal results and smashing your fitness goals.

Rubber Mat Pro
Ankle Weights
Hip Bands
Small Loop Bands
Gym Ball
Balance Trainer