Planks, crunches, and sit-ups aren’t the only core exercises to work your abs and strengthen the core.
There are more, even the better ones.
While many ab exercises target the ab muscles, over a few dozens of them go beyond the abs and strengthen your core too.
Those provide more bang for your buck, so to speak.
Here is why.
Your core muscles include all of your abdominal muscles and your lower back, hips, glutes. Basically, every muscle in your trunk that support your movements is included in the core.
Together, your core protects your internal organs, aids movement, and lends better balance and stability to the whole body.
Here are 25 moves, from simple to killer, that will not only strengthen the core, but also tone your midsection. They will be sure to keep your daily core workouts interesting.
* Scroll down past the image for instructions on every move.
- Lie down flat on your back on a Yoga mat, with your arms and legs up towards the ceiling.
- Take a deep breath and engage your abs. As you exhale, lower your right leg and extend your right arm behind your head.
- Switch sides and keep alternating legs and arms until you complete a set. Do 8-12 reps / side.
- Lie facedown on the ground with your legs extended, elbows bent directly under shoulders. Clasp your hands.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart and elbows shoulder-width apart.
- Brace your abs, then tuck your toes to raise your body (forearms remain on the ground) to form a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 30 - 60 seconds or as long as you can.
3. Plank to Push-Up
- Start in a plank position, support your bodyweight on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to your ankles.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the stomach. Press your body up into the top position of a push-up by extending your arms one at a time.
- Pause, then reverse the movement and return to your elbows. That’s one rep.
4. Russian Twists
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet off the floor. Placing your hands together, extend your arms straight out in front of your chest. Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor
- Brace your core and rotate to the right as far as you can.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then reverse the movement and twist all the way back to the left as far as you can. Continue alternating back and forth until you complete 8-12 reps on each side. Do 2-3 sets.
5. Bicycle Crunch
- Lie flat on the floor on a Yoga mat, with your lower back pressed to the ground and the core engaged.
- Place your hands behind your ears gently holding your head. Bring your knees toward your chest to about a 45-degree angle.
- Lift your upper back until your shoulder blades are off the mat. Be sure not to pull from your neck.
- Contract your abs and straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward the left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving, not just your elbows.
- Switch sides, and continue alternating from side to side to complete one set. Do 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
6. One Arm Toe Touch Crunch
- Lie down faceup with arms and legs straight out, bend your right leg 45 degree next to you.
- Contract your core in one motion crunch your abs and lift up your left leg as you reach your right arm toward it. Engage your abs to actually touch your toe (slow and controlled) with right hand.
- Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the starting position. That’s one rep!
- Continue for 10-15 repetitions and then switch sides and repeat for 15 reps total.
7. Mountain Climber Exercise
- To perform this exercise, get into a full body push-up position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
- Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Brace your abs and lift one foot, and slowly raise your knee and bring it towards your chest. Keep the abs engaged and your back flat.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg (left).
- Continue alternating for the prescribed number of repetition or 30 - 45 seconds
8. Cross Body Mountain Climbers
- Start at the top in a pushup position with your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Keeping your abs engaged, pick up your right foot and slowly bring your right knee toward your left shoulder.
- Then return to the starting position. Continue for prescribed number of repetitions.
9. Reverse Crunch
- Lie on an exercise or yoga mat and raise the legs so they’re extended upward directly over your hips.
- Rest your hands palms down at your sides. Contracting abdominals, use your lower abs to lift your hips off the floor,
- pulling them toward the rib cage.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower the hips and legs, back down towards the floor. Do 8 to 12 reps.
10. Crossed Leg Crunch
- Lie down face-up on your back as shown in the image. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Supporting your head with hands, but do not pull on your head as you crunch up— let your abs do the work for you.
- Lifting your upper back, head and shoulders off the floor, contract your abs as you crunch straight up towards your legs— Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Aim 12-15 reps per side for 2-3 sets.
Get ready to feel the burn.
No.11: Down-Dog Knee Up
No.12: Knee to Elbow Crunch
No.13: Toe Touch Crunch
14. Scissors Crunch
- Lie flat on your back. Extend your arms so they're against the sides of your body with your palms face down and pressing into the floor.
- Bend your knees 45 degrees and draw them into your ribs. This makes it easier for you to pull your navel in toward your spine and actively press your lower back flat on the ground.
- Lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to keep your abs engaged and pressing your lower back into the ground.
- Keeping your core strong, slowly lower your right leg down toward the ground until it is a few inches above.
- Then slowly scissor your legs, lifting your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down toward the ground.
- Continue scissoring for 15 to 20 times on each leg (or more if you're still not feeling it).
15. Rolling Plank
- Start in the side plank on your left with right foot staggered in front of the left foot. Extend your right arm up.
- Rotate your torso to the right. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling as you roll onto the outside of your left foot.
- Pause, then reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the other side. Continue from side to side for 10-12 reps on each side
16. Plank Side Tuck
- From a full plank position, bend your knees and jump your feet into outside of your right hand, landing in a crouch on the balls of your feet.
- Jump up and extend your legs back out to your plank position. That's one rep.
- Repeat as quickly as you can. This time jump into outside of your left hand and continue alternating for 12-15 reps on each side.
Tip: Keep your weight in your arms to make jumping in and out easier. If it’s too challenging to jump, you can instead perform in the form of mountain climbers moving your feet in and out.
17. Diagonal Plank
- Start in an plank position, then walk your legs apart until they are a bit wider than your hips. Make sure your hips are lifted, and your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
- Keeping torso stable, lift your right arm up and slightly out on the diagonal. Hold this position for two seconds, then return to elbow plank.
- Repeat with the left arm. This completes one rep.
- Do two 12-15 reps on each side.
If you find this abs exercise too challenging, modify and do the elbow diagonal plank instead.
No.17: Crunch Clap
No.19: Side lift
20. Side V-Up
- Lie on your right side, with your left hand behind your head and right hand on the floor.
- Pressing down into your right hand, raise your straight legs off the floor and bring your torso toward your legs.
- Lower yourself back to the floor with control. That's one rep. Continue for 12-15 reps. Then switch sides and repeat on the other side.
No.21: One-Leg Plank
No.22: Side Plank Toe Touch
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Place your hands behind your head so your thumbs are behind your ears. Don’t lace your fingers across together.
- Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few inches of space between your chin and your chest.
- Gently pull your abdominals inward to tighten your abs.
- Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor.
- Hold for 1-2 counts at the top of the movement and then lower slowly back down. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions.