We all want a toned, flat stomach. No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout. Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it’s important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs.
So, trade crunches for these six super-effective abs exercises and you’ll be on your way to a perfectly toned, flatter tummy.
1. Squat and Reach
- Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and toes pointed slightly outward.
- Keeping your weight in your heels, sit back into your deep squat. Make sure your knees do not go beyond your toes.
- Holding your squat, raise both of your arms overhead. Hold this position for a moment, and then return to standing while lowering your arms to your sides. This completes one rep.
- Perform 15 reps.
2. Push-Up Rotation
- Begin in a plank position with your feet in line with your hips.
- Lower your body toward the floor, and then push through your arms, returning to plank.
- Twist to the left, reaching your left arm to the ceiling without letting your pelvis rise or lower.
- Return to plank position, bringing your hand back to the floor, and perform another push-up.
- When returning to plank, twist to the right, and reach your right arm to the ceiling.
- Return back to plank position, returning your arm to the floor. This completes one rep.
- Perform 15 reps.
- Lie on your back, and reach your arms rigidly to your side, off the floor. Lift your legs off the floor, and point them, so they are at about a 45-degree angle. Lift your head, so your shoulders are off the floor as well.
- When you’re ready to begin, lift your upper torso off the floor, and bend your knees. You can lean back to make this move harder or come up more to make it easier. Slowly lower your upper body back down to the floor, straightening out your legs as you do so. Stop when your back is on the floor, but not your head, shoulders, or legs.
- This completes one rep.
- Perform 25 reps.
4. Mountain Climbers
- Start in a traditional plank — shoulders over hands and weight on just your toes.
- With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to your basic plank. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward.
- Keep switching legs and begin to pick up the pace until it feels a little like running in place in a plank position.
- Continue “running” in your plank for one minute.
5. Table Top Reverse Pike
- Start off sitting on your bum, so your hands are planted eight inches behind you. Bend your knees and place your heels about a foot away from your hips. Make sure they are hips-width distance apart.
- Inhale and lift your hips off the ground so your torso is parallel with the floor and your arms are straight. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders and your ankles underneath your knees, so make small adjustments if you need to. Lower your head behind you to increase the stretch in your chest and neck.
- Hold for a complete breath, and then keeping your arms straight, exhale to lower your hips and straighten your legs, so your hips are hovering above the floor. Engage your abs and try to keep your spine long as you balance on your heels and hands. After a complete breath, inhale and push yourself back into the first position.
- Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps, flowing from one to the other, pivoting on your hands and heels. To make this move more challenging, hold each position for longer.
6. Elbow Plank
- Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
- Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
- Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
- Keep your back flat — don’t let it droop or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
- Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
- Repeat three times.