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9 Easy Ab Workouts

By Lexi Walters | July 12, 2019 | Shape

These basic abs moves are classic but effective, so anyone can incorporate them into their routine.

 
 1. Abdominal Hold

This is the sort of move that looks so wonky, you sure hope your roommate doesn't catch you doing it—unless she also sees how crazy strong your abs are getting, in which case she just may pull up a chair. (Level this up by trying an L-sit, which is a great core and upper-body gymnastics-inspired move.)

How to do it:

A. Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair (or step with four risers) and place your hands on the edge with your fingers pointing toward your knees. B. Tighten your abs and bring your toes 2 to 4 inches off the floor. Lift your butt off the chair. C. Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for 5 to 10 seconds. Lower yourself down and repeat.

Continue for 1 minute.

 2. The Side Crunch

A deceptively difficult move, the side crunch tests your balance while it teases your oblique muscles. (It gives you a bonus hip workout, too.)

How to do it:

A. Kneel on the floor and lean all the way over to your right side, placing your right palm on the floor. Keeping your weight balanced, slowly extend your left leg and point your toes. Place your left hand behind your head, pointing your elbow toward the ceiling. B. Next, slowly lift your leg to hip height as you extend your arm above your leg, with your palm facing forward. Look out over your hand while bringing the left side of your rib cage toward your hip. C. Lower to your starting position and repeat 6 to 8 times.

Do two sets of 6 to 8 reps, and then switch sides.

 3. Opposite Arm and Leg Raise

This move (sometimes called bird-dog, especially in yoga), when done during a workout warm-up, can help you feel longer, steadier, and seriously balanced. It's often included in core or glute activation routines as well.

How to do it:

A. Begin on all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. B. Raise your left arm to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height. Hold for 2 counts, reaching forward with your fingers and back with your heels. (To make it harder, touch your opposite elbow to your knee as you pull your arm and leg in.) C. Repeat this exercise on the opposite side.

Do 15 to 20 reps, alternating sides.

4. The Prone Plank

A super-simple, do-anywhere move that zips up your abs. (Read all the reasons why the plank is one of the best abs exercises out there.)

How to do it:

A. Get into a full push-up position with your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders. Hold here for 30 seconds, with your abs contracted and your arms and legs extended and your head aligned with your spine.

Hold this position for one minute.

5. Squat Thrust With Twist 

This move might seem like it has "wrenched back" written all over it—but if you engage your core and keep your form in check, it can be a great lower-body and easy abs exercise.

How to do it:

A. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height. Begin by squatting down, bending your knees 90 degrees, and twisting your upper body to the left. B. Now come up and repeat the exercise to the right. Keep your weight in your heels and don't allow your knees to jut forward away from your toes. C. Keep your knees facing forward as your chest and shoulders move side to side. For the best results, bend your knees as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Do two sets of 8 to 10 reps on each side.

6. The Climb Up

Try this resistance band exercise as part of an easy abs workout, or tack it on to this full-body resistance band routine to hit your whole body.

How to do it:

A. Start by lying on the floor with a 3-foot-long scarf, towel, or resistance band wrapped around the ball of your right foot, knees bent, left foot on the floor. Hold the scarf in both hands, and extend your right leg, keeping your foot flexed. B. Slowly walk your hands up the scarf as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for a count of 2. C. Now lower yourself back to the starting position, walking your hands back down the scarf. Be sure to keep your head neutral—don't tuck your chin or tilt back.

Do two sets of 8 to 10 reps on each sides.

 7. Ballet Twist

The generous side-stretching in this modified half-crunch allows you to work through your full range of motion. (Pro tip: When you first try this move, have a friend hold your feet still until you get the motion down. Have them watch your form and correct the angle of your back.)

How to do it:

A. Sit on the floor and extend your legs, pressing them firmly together. Lean back 45 degrees from the hips. Keep your abs engaged as you bring both your arms overhead like a ballerina. B. Slowly twist your torso to the right, placing your right arm on the mat. Keep your left arm reaching overhead for a slow count of 3. Repeat the movement, keeping your left arm on the floor, and keeping your butt and heels on the floor. C. Contract your abs to support your spine as you return to center, bringing both arms overhead. Continue alternating sides.

Do 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side. 

8. Single-Leg Stretch

This classic Pilates move will make the top of your abs burn. Pair it with The Hundred to really fatigue your core muscles.

How to do it:

A. Lie back in the center of your mat with your knees bent. Lift your head and shoulders and curl your chin in toward your chest. B. Inhale as you draw your left knee in toward your chest, placing your left hand on your ankle and your right hand on your knee. Lift your right leg about 45 degrees off the floor. C. Switch legs, extending your left leg while hugging your right leg to your chest. Switch hand positions each time your switch legs, placing your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your right knee.

Do 5 to 10 reps for each side.

9. The Cobra

After doing a series of regular crunches and other lying-down exercises, cobra pose will be a welcome change. It'll lengthen the front of your rib cage, stretch your abs, and give you a chance to reset. (Plus, it's a great yoga pose to strengthen your back muscles.)

How to do it:

A. Lie facedown on the floor with your palms near your chest. B. Lift your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor, pulling your shoulder blades down and together. (To make it harder, try lifting your thighs and hips off the floor.) C. Hold for 2 counts and then lower back down.

Repeat 8 to 10 times

This article was written by Lexi Walters from Shape and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photos by Peter Ardito.

Lexi Walters
Shape