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Best Abs Workouts: 5 of the Best for Building a Stronger Core

close-up of a woman's belly

JGI / Tom Grill / Getty Images

Shredded abs need more than sit ups. Basically a defined belly requires much more than just exercise. Still, the right exercises can help build your core muscles body fat percentage low enough will show up as the coveted washboard abs that so many people crave.

You can̵
7;t beat your diet

No matter how many ab exercises you do or how often you do them, you won’t get a shredded six-pack without adjusting your diet. Even then, some people are not genetically prone to low enough body fat levels on their stomach, so uber-defined abs aren’t in everyone’s future. And that’s totally okay! A strong core that supports your spine is much more important than visible abs anyway.

Best abs exercises for a strong core

There is no shortage of abdominal exercises. In fact, there are so many abs exercises to choose from that deciding which ones to add to your routine can be confusing and overwhelming. The best ab exercises are less about aesthetics and more about functionality – they should challenge you to maintain stability in your abdomen and create a neutral spine position. These five abs exercises do just that, and you’re well on your way to one stronger core.

V-ups and adjustments

The V-up is an advanced abdominal exercise where you bend your hips and fold yourself into a kind of human taco. The goal is to keep your spine straight and your fingers touch your toes (or as far as you can) while balancing on your tailbone. If you think that sounds difficult, you are right. Fortunately, there are plenty of V-up tweaks, as shown in the video: single-side v-ups, tuck-ups, and legs-only v-ups to name a few.

Try this: If you’re not sure if you can do a V-up, start with one of the other tweaks in the video. Try a set of 10 reps. If that feels easy, move on to the next progression. Keep practicing each change until it feels easy, then move on to the next one until you’ve reached a standard V-up.

Four-legged friend holding, crawling or shoulder tapping

You will probably feel crazy trying this move, but the four-legged pose is one of the best ways to challenge your abs, even if you are an advanced exerciser. The four-legged pose involves sitting on all fours and balancing on your hands and toes. The key is to keep your spine flat and hips in line with your shoulders.

Try this: Hold the four-legged friend for 30 seconds. If that feels easy, add shoulder cranes. If that still feels too easy, try the four-legged friend. Continue to increase your time in the four-legged friend – or distance for the four-legged friend – to progress to a stronger core.

Hollow body grip and hollow rocks

Another advanced abs workout, hollow holds, and hollow stones reinforce the importance of core strength for a healthy lower back. This move isn’t shy about exposing flaws, and it’s a phenomenal – if frustrating – way to assess your current core strength. If you can’t make hollow holds or hollow bricks just yet, try one of the adjustments in the video.

Try this: Begin by sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you and your arms above your head. Rock back until your lower back presses into the ground. Look up at the sky, not in front of you, to avoid straining your neck. Contract your core muscles and hold the position. Squeeze you thighs and glutes together to assist in the movement. Hold for as long as possible until your lower back is off the floor.

Dead bugs

This beginner-friendly abs workout challenges your core by offsetting your body weight. To do this, lie on your back with your feet and hands in the air. Simultaneously lower your right leg and left arm, keeping your back pressed to the floor. Return to the center and repeat on the other side. Be careful not to strain your neck or upper back.

Try this: Start with a set of 10 reps in total (five on each side). Slowly lower your arms and legs and focus on your technique. If your back is off the ground, it means you have lowered your arms and legs too far for your current core strength level.

Hanging pleat

Having access to a chin-up bar gives you access to one of the very best abs exercises for beginner to intermediate fitness enthusiasts. Hanging folds and creases engage your entire core as well as your hip flexors and back muscles.

Try this: Do three sets of tucking movements, holding them all until you can’t keep your knees up. Then finish with a set of maximum reps. Try to increase your time every time you practice bending braces.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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