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16 Ab Exercises Guaranteed to Make You Feel the Burn

The Ab Moves Trainers Swear By

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I love, love, love the feeling of being sore after a workout. (It's one of the 14 Stages of Being Sore After a Workout!) Lucky me, since I’m pretty much guaranteed to be a little achy post-squat session bicep curls. But for whatever reason, my abs get sore less often than the rest of me—so when my core is killing me, I know for a fact that I just had a really amazing workout (and I secretly think I’m that much closer to an impressive six-pack). Since it happens pretty rarely, though, I started to think there was something off about my ab day game. So I asked trainers for the exercises they use when they want to wake up the next day knowing they worked their core. These expert-backed moves are guaranteed to make your midsection burn now and later. (P.S. Find out Why Post-Workout Muscle Soreness Hits People at Different Times.)

Photo: Shutterstock

Get-Up

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Lay on the floor, raise right arm in the air, and bend right leg.
Sit up, using left arm for support. 
Drive heel into the floor and extend hip off the floor into a bridge position.
Bring left leg under right leg, moving into a lunge position.
Drive back knee up off the floor, and bring leg next to the other. Repeat these steps in the reverse order to the starting position.

— Casey Miller, personal trainer, founder of biomechanicallyfit.com, and author at TheBestofFitness.com

Wood Chop

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A Stand tall and hold a medicine ball with both hands at chest height. Twist torso as far as possible, bringing the ball up and above opposite shoulder. 
B Keeping chest up, bring the ball down all the way across body in a "chopping" motion—go slow and exhale on the way down. Return to the starting position.

— Nikki Noya, certified personal trainer in New York City and Miami

Spiderwoman Plank

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Start in a forearm plank. Bring left knee to your left elbow.
Return to original plank, then repeat on the right side. Do as fast as possible while maintaining proper form. 

— Amber Hirsch, certified personal trainer and fitness director at Local Barre

X-Out

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Lay on back with legs spread so they are in line with hips. Extend arms overhead so body resembles an X shape.
Using core to lift upper and lower body, bring right hand and left foot together. Repeat on the other side. 

— Amber Hirsch, certified personal trainer and fitness director at Local Barre

Stability Ball Saw

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Start in a plank with forearms on a stability ball, making sure to keep core tight and body straight.
Move arms forward and backward in a sawing motion. For an added challenge, move elbows in a circle to the right, then a circle to the left.

— Joan Scrivanich, certified strength and conditioning specialist and USA Triathlon and USA Track & Field Certified Coach at Rise Endurance

Windshield Wipers

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Lay on back with knees and feet up in the air, keeping knees and hips bent at 90 degrees.
Keeping body flat on the ground, lower legs down to one side, then bring them up and over to the other side. To make this move more challenging, straighten your knees.

— Joan Scrivanich, certified strength and conditioning specialist and USA Triathlon and USA Track & Field Certified Coach at Rise Endurance

J Turns

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Start in a plank position with legs on top of a stability ball (the center of the ball should be about under knees). Use knees to draw a semi-circle to left side, pulling knees to left elbow (in a J shape).
Return to the start position, then draw knees directly under chest. Return to the start and pull them toward right elbow. 

— Joan Scrivanich, certified strength and conditioning specialist and USA Triathlon and USA Track & Field Certified Coach at Rise Endurance

Mountain Climbers

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Come into a forearm plank position and place feet on gliders. Keeping core engaged and palms pressing firmly into the floor, slide feet back so shoulders shift behind elbows.
B Slide feet back to starting position, or with shoulders a little past wrists. Continue sliding back and forth.

— Christina Lodde, certified personal trainer, instructor at Barry's Bootcamp Boston, master instructor at Flywheel Boston, and Nike trainer

V-Up

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Start laying on the floor, legs extended straight on the floor and arms overhead.
B Using core, bring hands to toes, then lower back to start without touching feet down.

— Holly Del Rosso, certified personal trainer in New York City and San Francisco

Russian Twists

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Start a seated position, lifting feet in the air and crossing ankles.
Lean back on sit bones, and, keeping the abs tight, twist back and forth from side to side. If this feels easy, hold a weight in hands, close to abs, while twisting.

— Jamie Logie, certified personal trainer and owner of Regained Wellness

Lower Ab Leg Lift

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Lay flat on the ground, preferably by the side of a squat rack or pole you can reach and hold on to. Extend legs toward ceiling, pressing lower back into the floor.
B Lift legs up until butt lifts off of the floor, then return to the starting position.

— Jake Boly, certified strength and conditioning specialist

Kneeling Medicine Ball Rollouts

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Kneeling on a soft surface, place medicine ball on ground in front of you and place both hands on top. Without dropping hips, roll the ball out until you feel about to collapse.
Once you've reached your threshold, bring ball back to starting position.

— Jake Boly, certified strength and conditioning specialist

The Body Saw

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A Start in a forearm plank, feet on a set of sliders. Keeping low back flat, shoulder blades back and down, slide body back as one unit.
Hold briefly, then return to the start position or shift shoulders slightly past wrists. Continue sliding.

— Polina Liu, UK-based personal trainer

Leg Climb

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Lay on back and raise one leg straight into the air.
Use hands to "climb up" raised leg to touch toes, then "climb" back down.

— Lisa Kinder, personal trainer and star of the 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training DVD

Reverse Curls

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Start in a crunch position, but with legs bent at 90 degrees, with lower legs parallel to the floor.
Lift tailbone off floor and bring your knees towards nose. Return to start.

— Makenzie Marzluff, certified personal trainer, certified pilates instructor, certified nutritionist, and founder of the Original Dessert Hummus

Commandos

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Start at the top of a push-up position, hands directly underneath shoulders. Lower right elbow down to the ground, then the left.
Press up on to the right hand, then the left to return to start. 

—Brooke Taylor, certified STOTT PILATES instructor at Taylored Fitness NY, Ltd