An expert trainer shares four of her favorite abs exercises for beginners and reveals how to upgrade them

This is the secret to continued strength training progress

A woman performing a V-up outside as part of an abs workout
(Image credit: Getty Images / Peathgee Inc)

The key to successful strength training is progression. If you want long-term results your workouts need to evolve with you and be consistently challenging. 

To help with this, Sweat app trainer Katie Martin has shared four of her favorite abs exercises for beginners, along with ways to upgrade each one. 

You can start by trying the exercises in their beginner form then, as your core becomes stronger over a few weeks of workouts, you can swap them for the advanced versions. 

How to do Katie Martin’s four favorite abs exercises for all fitness levels

For a complete abs workout, you can perform the four exercises above as a circuit, using the beginner or advanced options depending on which one best suits your fitness level.

Perform 12-15 repetitions of each exercise in turn, taking a 30-second rest between each one, and repeat this four-move sequence for three total rounds. 

What is progressive overload and why is it important?

The idea of raising the difficulty of your workouts as your strength and fitness levels improve is called progressive overload. Here’s an example of it in action. 

On week one of your workouts, you might find a 20-second plank hold poses a significant challenge. However, after a few weeks of doing this and other core-strengthening exercises, your mid-body muscles will strengthen and it’s likely the same task will feel much easier. 

That’s when you need to increase the difficulty of the exercise. In this case, you could hold the plank for longer, or take Martin’s advice and add weight to make it harder.  

By doing this, you ensure your muscles are continually challenged and avoid unwanted plateaus in your strength training progress. Progressive overload applies to your whole body too, not just your abs, so make sure you’re using it in all of your your weights workouts.

Need some weights for your home workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.