Sexy Six-Pack Abs: 29 Must-Try Abdominal Exercises For Everyone

by Greatist

This article originally appeared on Greatist.

Sure, everyone wants sexy six-pack abs, but the core muscles are responsible for much more than a few appreciative looks at the beach. The core (composed of the oft-mentioned abdominals, as well as the side, back, pelvic and glutei muscles) provides a muscular framework that protects internal organs, aids movement and lends balance and stability to the whole body.

To get a strong core, it's important to switch it up and keep the muscles guessing. Use the list below -- broken down into bodyweight and gym equipment categories -- to train the upper and lower abdominals, obliques, and work on deep core strength and stability (we termed this "stability" to keep it simple!).

Mix and match the exercises to work on core strength, whether at the gym or working out at home.


1. Crunch

Targets: Upper abdominals

Lying flat on the ground with knees bent and hands behind the head, push lower back into the ground and lift upper back off the ground and slightly forward.

2. Vertical Leg Crunch

Targets: Upper abdominals

Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee.

Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

3. V-Ups

Targets: Upper abdominals

Lie on your back, with your legs and arms extended. Keeping your knees and elbows locked, simultaneously raise your upper body while trying to touch your fingers to your toes.

4. Raised Knee-In

Targets: Lower abdominals

Lie on your back, arms close to your sides, palms down, and just under your lower back and butt. Press the small of the back against the floor, and extend your legs outward, with your heels about three inches above the floor.

Keeping lower back against the floor, lift your left knee toward your chest. Your right leg should remain hovering above the floor. Hold, then straighten your left leg to the starting position and repeat with your right leg.

5. Reverse Crunch

Targets: Lower abdominals

Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides.

Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles.

Your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction.

6. Flutter Kicks

Targets: Lower abdominals

Lie face up on the floor with your legs extended, toes pointed and hands tucked underneath your glutes to support your lower back. Lift both legs off the floor a few inches and alternately kick the legs up and down.

7. Side Plank

Targets: Obliques

Lie on your side with lower arm bent at the elbow. The lower elbow should be underneath the shoulder joint and the upper hand should be on your hip. Align ankles, hips, shoulders and head.

Push the length of your body toward the ceiling, balancing on the edge of your bottom shoe with one foot directly over the other.

8. Lying Side Crunch

Targets: Obliques

Lie on a mat on your side with your knees bent at a right angle and twisted to the left. Hold a MB up to your chest. Curl up your upper body, lifting your shoulders off the floor a few inches. Pause at the top of the contraction and slowly lower back down.

9. Oblique V-Up

Targets: Obliques

Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip.

10. Russian Twist

Targets: Obliques

Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat. Hold your arms straight out in front of your chest, with your palms facing down. Lean back so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.

Twist to the right as far as you can, pause, then reverse your movement and twist all the way back to the left as far as you can.

11. Front Plank

Targets: Stability

Lie prone on the floor with feet together and forearms on ground. Draw abs in and tighten glutes. Lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on forearms and toes. Hold.

Slowly return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked and black flat.

12. Bicycle Kicks

Targets: Stability

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your hands placed across your chest. Pull your right knee in toward your chest while twisting the left shoulder toward your right knee. Return to the starting position and repeat with other knee and elbow.

13. Plank Jack

Targets: Stability

Get in a modified plank position, balancing on your forearms (elbows aligned under shoulders) and toes. Tighten abs so body is straight from head to heels. Keeping torso tight, hop feet out wide. Hop feet back to starting position and repeat.

14. In and Out Crunches

Targets: Stability

Lie on your back with your feet together, legs extended, and hands behind your head and elbows wide. Lift your shoulder blades and feet off the floor then bend your knees in toward your chest and lift your upper body in a standard crunch.

15. Scissor Crunches

Targets: Stability

Lie on your back with your feet together, legs extended, and hands behind your head with elbows wide. Raise your right foot straight up to the ceiling and keep your left leg extended and your left foot a few inches from the floor.

Perform a standard crunch, then lower your upper body to about an inch from the floor and switch leg.

16. V-Tuck

Targets: Stability

Lie face up with legs extended and hands on either side of your head. Raise head a few inches. Lift legs off ground, then slowly sit up, drawing knees to your elbows directly over hips.

Hold, feet off the ground, then slowly lower torso and extend legs (but keep head and feet slightly off the ground).

17. Toe Tap

Targets: Stability

Lie on your back and place your hands behind your ears. Lift your legs until your knees are above your hips and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Press your lower back against the floor and crunch forward until your shoulders are off the floor.

With toes pointed down, lower your right foot as far as you can without lifting your back off the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with left leg.

18. Superman

Targets: Stability

Lie prone on the floor with arms in front of body, palms toward the ground. Draw navel in, tighten glutes, and pinch shoulder blades together. Simultaneously lift arms, chest, and legs off the floor. Hold.

Slowly return to ground, keeping chin tucked.

19. T-Stabilization

Targets: Stability

Get into a push-up position. Shift your weight to your left hand and rotate your body, feet stacked, raising your right arm into the air so that your arms and torso form a T. Hold.

20. Bird-Dog

Targets: Stability

Balance on your hands and knees. Lift your right leg and left arm and extend your leg to the rear and reach to the front with your arm. Hold position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

21. Plank with Alternating Arm and Leg Raise

Targets: Stability

Get in the standard pushup position. Lift your right arm and your left leg off the floor at the same time without moving your torso. Hold. Return to starting position, then repeat, lifting your left leg and right arm.

Gym Equipment

22. Hanging Knee Raise

Targets: Lower abdominals

Hang fully extended from a chin-up bar, palms facing out and your hands a little farther than shoulder-width apart. Raise your knees toward your chest, curling your pelvis upward at the end. Make it tougher by keeping your legs straight instead of bending your knees.

23. Incline Reverse Crunch

Targets: Lower abdominals

Lie on an incline board with your hips lower than your head. Grab the bar behind your head for support, or simply grasp the sides of the bench. Bend your knees slightly and hold your feet together.

Raise your knees to your chest by lifting your hips and crunching them inward. Pause, and lower your hips back to start.

24. Straight Leg Raise

Targets: Lower abdominals

Lie face-up on a bench with your glutes at its edge. Extend your legs, keeping them parallel to the floor. Grasp the sides of the bench, or near your hips. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, raise them slowly until you're in a jackknife position.

Your head and shoulders shouldn't move. Make sure your abs do all the work. Unfold your body slowly, lowering your legs back to the start position.

25. Seated Ab Crunch

Targets: Lower abdominals

Sit on the edge of a stable chair or bench. Place your hands in front of your butt, and grip the sides of the seat. Lean back slightly and extend your legs down and away, keeping your heels 4 to 6 inches off the floor.

To begin the exercise, bend your knees and slowly raise your legs toward your chest. At the same time, lean forward with your upper body, allowing your chest to approach your thighs.

26. Oblique Hanging Leg Raise

Targets: Obliques

Grasp a chin-up bar with an overhand grip and hang from it at arm's length, with your knees bent. Keep your knees bent and lift your right hip toward your right armpit until your lower legs are nearly parallel to the floor.

Pause, then return to the starting position, and lift your left hip toward your right armpit.

27. Captain's Chair

Targets: Stability

Stabilize your upper body by gripping the hand holds and pressing your lower back against the back pad. The starting position begins with you holding your body up with legs dangling below. Slowly lift your knees in toward your chest.

The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring the knees up and return them back to the starting position.

28. Stability Ball Crunch

Targets: Upper abdominals

Lie face up on a stability ball, ball under low back, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Cross arms across chest, feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Draw navel in, tighten glutes and slowly crunch upper body forward, raising shoulders off the ball and tucking chin to chest.

Slowly lower upper body over the ball.

29. Bar Crunch

Targets: Upper abdominals

Hold a body bar, arms shoulder width apart and lie on a bench with your knees bent and your feet together. Extend your arms so the bar is directly above your chest. Without bending your elbows, crunch up by lifting your upper back and shoulders off the bench and extend the bar to the ceiling. Slowly return to start.

Read the full list on Greatist.