Ab training goes well beyond improving the look of your midsection.

Today, we cover 20 of the BEST ab exercises to improve performance, core strength, posture and decrease low-back pain!

No equipment needed!

Enjoy :)


#1 Front Plank 

The front plank should be a staple in any training program. It is a great way to build anterior (front) core stability while teaching proper position during more advanced exercises like push-ups and crawls. 

Key Points:

  • Start on forearms with eyes directly over fists
  • Keep chest push up away from floor
  • Hold straight line from head to feet
  • Keep hips tucked, glutes squeezed and abs braced 
  • Work on deep exhales through mouth
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:30 hold

#2 Side Plank

Your obliques (lateral abs) play a big role in your aesthetics, performance, core stability and posture. Because they attach to both your rib cage and pelvis, keeping them side strong with exercises like side planks is a great way to improve strength and keep your low back healthy. 

Key Points:

  • Start on one side with your elbow directly under your shoulder
  • Keep feet stacked with toes pulled up
  • Lift hips until body is parallel with floor
  • Keep as much distance from arm pit to floor as possible
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep glutes squeezed and abs braced
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:30 hold/side

#3 Plank Walk-Ups

Plank walk-ups are a great way to add a challenge to your front plank and work the strength of your upper-back and shoulders. These are tough!

Key Points: 

  • Start in front plank position
  • Walk up to right hand and then left - keep hands under shoulders
  • Keep hips still and glutes squeezed
  • Reverse the motion by walking down to right and left forearms
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10 walk-ups

#4 Front Plank Arm March

Another great anterior core exercise is the front plank arm march. As you reach forward, your abs need to work very hard to keep your trunk from moving. 

Key Points:

  • Start in front plank position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Keep hips tucked and glutes squeezed
  • Reach one arm out straight without letting hips move
  • Return to starting position and switch arms
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5-8 reaches/side

#5 Pause Bear Crawl

These are a bit different from what you may remember doing as a kid in gym class. Our pause bear crawl forces you to core your spine and hips by stabilizing your abs. Also, because your weight is in your arms and you need to move, the pause bear crawl is a great way to strengthen your shoulder complex. 

Key Points:

  • Start with hands directly under shoulders and knees bent under hips
  • Lift your knees 2-3" off the floor
  • Move forward by moving opposite hand and foot simultaneously
  • Make your steps 3-5" inches at a time, always keeping knees under hips
  • Everytime you set, pause for 2 seconds
  • Do not allow spine to move
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10yd crawls

#6 Push-Up Elbow Touch

Push-ups are our favorite upper-body exercises. They combine upper-body (chest, upper-back, tricep) strength and core/shoulder stability. They are great for your abs as you must work hard to hold a good core and hip position throughout. 

Key Points: 

  • Start in push-up position with feet wider than shoulder width
  • Keep hips tucked, glutes tight and abs braced
  • Complete a push-up
  • When you get to the top, slowly touch hand to opposite elbow and pause
  • Do not let hips rotate or sag
  • Complete another push-up and touch other hand to opposite elbow
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps/side

#7 Reverse Crunches

The reverse crunch is one of the toughest ab exercises around. Your abs need to work very hard to contract to pull your body up to the top position as well as aid in slowly lowering to the starting position -- never letting your abs rest. You will feel these tomorrow!

Key Points: 

  • Start on back with knees bent and heels tucked close to butt
  • Have arms overhead holding something sturdy
  • The heavier the object you hold, the easier the exercise will be
  • Start by using abs to pull knees up to elbows
  • Pause at top and slowly lower vertebrae by vertebrae to starting position
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps

#8 Wall Dead-Bugs

Like the front plank, the wall dead-bug should be a part of every training program. It is a fantastic way to isolate and strengthen your abs -- a common weak spot for many. 


Key Points: 

  • Start on back with hands on wall
  • Press and keep low back into floor
  • Keeping back flat, reach one leg out front
  • Hold this position as you exhale long and slow
  • Return to starting position and switch side
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5 reps/leg

#9 Inchworm

Our members are not the biggest fans of inchworms because they are tough! We as coaches love them because they are a bang-for-your-buck exercise challenging your abs, flexibility and shoulder strength!

Key Points: 

  • Start in push-up position with hands under shoulders
  • Keeping legs straight inch your feet forward as far as possible
  • Slowly walk hands as far out as possible without letting hips sag
  • Increase challenge by adding push-up
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 10 yards

#10 Mountain Climbers

The mountain climber is at the top of our list when it comes to building some good looking abs. The combination of getting your heart rate up, burning calories and challenging your abs to work make these the perfect ab sculpting exercise. 

Key Points: 

  • Start in push-up position with hands under shoulders
  • Keep upper-body (head to tail bone) still throughout
  • Punch one knee forward, while keeping other leg straight
  • Quickly switch sides (all one motion)
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :20-:30 

#11 Straight-Leg Sit-Ups

We like straight leg sit ups over knees-bent, traditional sit-ups because they focus more on your abs and less on your hip flexors. Research also shows the straight leg position takes stress off your low back. Talk about a win-win. 

Key Points: 

  • Start on back with legs straight, toes pointed up
  • Initiate by using abs to pull upper body up
  • Reach through ceiling and finish arms overhead
  • Slowly lower yourself vertebrae by vertebrae
  • Make these more challenging by adding weight overhead
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps

#12 Alternating Leg Lowerings

The leg lowering is more than an ab exercise. It helps reduce hamstring stiffness while improving pelvic and rib cage control. This is important for low back health.

Key Points:

  • Start on back with legs straight and in the air
  • Crush ground with low-back keeping constant connection between the two
  • Keep arms reaching toward ceiling
  • Slowly lower on leg, reaching long through the heel
  • Exhale as you lower, keeping low back flat to floor
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps/side

#13 Heel-Ups

Think of the heel-up as a safer, more neck friendly ab crunch. These are a favorite amongst our members as they really work your abdominals!

Key Points: 

  • Start on back with low back flat and arms by your side
  • Raise legs up as high as possible, keeping legs straight and together
  • Use abs to raise tail bone off the ground and reach heels towards the ceiling
  • Slowly lower to starting position
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps

#14 Elbow Obliques

Ready to take your side plank to the next level. Enter the side plank elbow oblique. Good-bye love handles!

Key Points:

  • Start on one side with your elbow directly under your shoulder
  • Keep feet stacked with toes pulled up
  • Lift hips until body is parallel with floor
  • Keep as much distance from arm pit to floor as possible
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep glutes squeezed and abs braced
  • Place top hand on head and tuck elbow towards floor and return to starting position
  • Do not let hips move throughout
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:30 hold/side

#15 T Push-Ups

The T Push-Up is the catchall ab exercise. The push-up challenges the anterior abs while the t motion works the obliques or lateral abs. If you are new to push-ups, start your hands on an elevated surface like a chair or table.

Key Points:

  • Start in push-up position with hands under shoulders
  • Complete a push-up and return to starting position
  • Rotate onto one hand as your feet turn with you, keeping eyes on top hand
  • Hold position and push away from floor, keeping hips high
  • Return to push-up position and rotate to other side
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps

#16 Spiderman Push-Ups

Get ready for one of the hardest push-ups around. Bringing one leg up to your side forces your abs to work double time to prevent your core and hips from twisting and sagging. You will love these! 

Key Points:

  • Start in push-up position with hands under shoulders and hips tucked
  • If you are new to push-ups start hands on elevated surface
  • As you lower into push-up bring one knee towards elbow
  • Keep abs braced and do not allow body to sag or twist
  • Return to starting position and alternate sides
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps/side

#17 Feet Elevated Plank

The quickest and easiest way to increase the challenge of your plank is to move from your forearms to your hands. Take that increase in challenge to the next level by putting your feet on an elevated surface. This increases the intensity of your plank by placing more weight and challenge on your upper body and core. 

Key points:

  • Start in push-up position with feet on elevated surface (6-18" high)
  • Keep hips tucked, glutes squeezed and abs braced
  • Push into ground and keep chest away from floor
  • Think of slightly spreading shoulder blades
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:30 holds

#18 Plank Crawl

Ready to take your plank to the next level? Bring on the plank crawl. The increase in lever length by having your legs straight vs bent place much more demand on your abs to hold spine and trunk position. These are also great for getting that heart rate up!

Key Points:

  • Start in push-up position 
  • Keep hips tucked, glutes squeezed and abs braced
  • Keep legs staight as you walk forward, opposite leg and hand
  • Start on toes and inch your way forward holding perfect plank
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 10 yards

#19 Hollow Man

The hollow man is the dead-bug 2.0. By having both your arms and legs extended out, your abs are going to feel like they are going to burst trying to hold your low back flat!

Key Points:

  • Lay on back with legs straight and arms overhead
  • Keep low back pressed into floor throughout
  • Keeping head back, lift leg 6-10" off floor
  • Work on deep exhales through pursed lips
  • Hold for 2-3 sets of 5-8 breaths

#20 Knees-Up Belly Lift

This exercise is all about the breath! When we exhale our abs turn on aiding in pulling our ribs down and aiding the air out. Make sure when you do this exercise to be aggressive with your exhale as though you are blowing through a straw. You will feel those abs big time!

Key points:

  • Start on hands and knees with hands under shoulders and knees under hips
  • Tuck hips under as far as possible, squeezing glutes
  • Drive chest as far as possible away from ground
  • Your back should be completely rounded
  • Lift knees off ground 1-2"
  • Hold position as you inhale easily through nose and exhale long and aggressively through mouth
  • Hold for 2-3 sets of 5 breaths