Best workouts for abs: The best exercises to tone your tummy and get a six pack

The best abs workouts to lose bulk around the waistline and get a toned stomach

Best abs workouts
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Why are you looking for the best workouts for abs? Maybe you're getting back into exercise and you how beneficial great core strength can really be. Or perhaps you've lost a little weight and are now focusing on getting a chiselled six-pack. Either way,  owning a set of toned abdominal muscles has one been seen as the ultimate indicator of a fit, healthy and athletic lifestyle for decades. However, abs do so much more than merely let others know that you like to workout.

Building a strong core is like laying down solid foundations on a house - the stronger your stomach muscles, the easier you’ll find almost every conceivable exercise going. It might sound mad, but achieving a personal best bench press or hitting a record number of pull-ups is only really achievable with stronger abs.

So, searching for and undertaking the best abs workouts will not only pay dividends when it comes to achieving a dream body, it will also create a solid platform for smashing those overall fitness goals, whether it’s running or cycling further, performing more reps in a workout or simply shaping up around the midriff, the best workouts for abs are a great place to start. 

How to perform the best workouts for abs

The most important thing here is to avoid injury and the best way to do this is start slow and learn how to perfect each move, rather than rushing through repetitions with poor form. It is important to learn how to contract any muscle correctly if you are to achieve visible results, but many find contracting the main muscle groups that protect your stomach and internal organs particularly difficult.

With this in mind, it pays to work on contracting your abs correctly, squeezing your stomach muscles until you feel that they are activated. It is this squeeze that you should aim for during each workout and the deep burn is a great sign you are working your target muscle groups and not incorporating other areas that could not only blunt results, but also cause harm.

Focus on diet: get the most out of the best abs workouts

“More often than not, those looking to get visible abs will look past the most important factor: nutrition. You can do as many crunches as you like, but if your body fat percentage is too high, they simply won’t be visible. And, when it comes to lowering your body fat percentage, what you’re eating – and how much you’re eating – is key,” explains professional fitness trainer and content creator, Elliot Burton

Don't embark on a crash diet to achieve these goals, but take a long, hard look at your existing nutritional intake. 

Torching body fat is, at its simplest, a case of ensuring you are burning more calories than you take onboard via a healthy, balanced diet. As a really rough guide, the NHS recommends 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men. This, of course, depends on height, weight, current fitness levels and the amount of activity you do during a 24-hour period, but it is a good place to start. In order to shift some fat, it is usually a case of reducing this daily intake by 200-400 calories per day. 

It seems very simple when it's put like that. Of course, we all know that it's much easier to say than it is to do. You should start by looking into how to eat healthily and find out how to lower cholesterol. And, of course, keep track of your progress with the best bathroom scales

(Image credit: Harbinger Fitness)

The best workouts for abs

(Image credit: Future)

1. Reverse Crunches (30 to 60 seconds)

Rather than bringing your body up from the floor to your legs (as you would in a traditional crunch), the reverse crunch hits the abs hard by adding the weight of your lower body into the mix.

Lay flat on your back, arms out to the side and palms pressed into the floor for balance. Bring your knees together and raise your feet off the ground so your shins are parallel to the floor below. From here, breathe in and tense your abdominal muscle, tilting the pelvis so your knees travel towards your chest.

Don’t allow momentum to ruin the move, so avoid swinging your legs towards your chest. This should simply be a controlled tensing of the abs to tilt the pelvis. Return the legs to the start position in a controlled manner and repeat, ensuring the move is slow and controlled throughout. 

2. Ab Circles (30 to 60 seconds)

Seated on the floor with hands behind the body for stability, bring your heels together and raise your legs off the floor. Keeping the back straight and head high, this should immediately engage the abs.

Now make a sweeping clockwise circle with the feet in front of you, tensing the obliques (the muscles at the side of your stomach) and ensuring everything is controlled. Stop at the bottom of the move and repeat in an anti-clockwise motion. Repeat this for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on your level.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Plank (30 to 60 seconds)

When performed correctly, the plank targets the core muscles that help stabilise the body, but it is tempting to incorporate the shoulder and back muscles to help. To performa a plank correctly adopt a press-up position but lower your weight onto your forearms, rather than the palms of your hands. Keeping a straight line running from head to toe, keep the back flat, squeeze your bum muscles throughout and ensure the core muscles are tight. Hold this position but keep the mind trained on the core muscles and don’t let the hips sag. 

(Image credit: Future)

4. Bicycle Crunches (30 to 60 seconds)

This move targets the upper abdominal muscles and obliques. In order to really see the benefit from this exercise, ensure you slow things right down. Often, bicycle crunches are performed incorrectly, with many rotating the legs as if they were actually riding a bicycle.

For best results, lay flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground – pull in your navel to target those abs even further. Place your hands behind to your temples (avoid craning your neck) and bring your knees in towards your chest, lifting your shoulder blades off the ground. 

Straighten one leg out in front of you and twist your body towards the opposite bent knee, touching the knee with your elbow. Repeat on the opposite side but keep things slow and controlled.

5. Scissor sit-ups (30 to 60 seconds)

It’s too easy to cheat with a traditional sit up, with many using momentum or incorporating other muscles to cheat on every rep. To mitigate this, we’ve selected the scissor sit-up, which makes it very difficult to not target the abs.

Lay on the floor but raise the shoulders off ground, now tense your abs and lift the heels off the floor, too. Once stable, cross one foot over the other, before swapping feet. Slowing down the movement will make this even harder, but it is a sure fire way of ensuring the abs are firing throughout. 

6. Russian Twist (30 to 60 seconds)

Once mastered, this is a great exercise to start adding some weights in the form of a kettlebell, a set of dumbbells or anything heavy you can get hold of, as this promotes the gradual overload that stimulates muscle growth and strengthening.

Adopt a sit-up position with knees slightly bent and heels on the ground. With a straight back and shoulders retracted, rotate the torso to the left until the fingertips touch the ground (or twist as far as you can if holding something heavy), but ensure this twisting motion is undertaken with the abdominal muscles, rather merely rotating the shoulders (that’s cheating!). Rotate in the opposite direction and tap the floor to the right of your hips and continue this movement and repeat until the time period is over.