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11 Trainer-Approved Abs Exercises To Build Unparalleled Core Strength

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mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

By Merrell Readman

mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career.

It’s no secret that getting abs is one of the most sought after goals in the gym. And while this is largely based on the body aesthetic we as a society have glorified over the years, there is merit to training and strengthening the abdominals (an important muscle group in your core) for a healthy, balanced body.

A strong overall core is the foundation of most exercises–it promotes stability and can support your entire body, to reduce risk of injury. Not to mention, your everyday comfort and function will benefit from some dedicated core training. Improving your core strength has a number of practical functions within the body from protecting your back, preserving good posture, and even stabilizing balance.

If you’re looking to tack some abs exercises onto your everyday workouts or create a dedicated routine, we rounded up 11 of our favorites, as demonstrated by top trainers. We can’t promise you washboard abs, but we can promise a good burn.

1.
Tabletop Crunch

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by Jessica Aronoff.

How-to:

Lie on your mat, and bring your hands behind your head. Bring your feet up into a tabletop position. Feel your tailbone and lower back anchor down into the mat.

Exhale as you lift your shoulders up off the mat. Inhale as you lower back down.

Repeat for 1 minute. Rest for 15 seconds, then continue to the next exercise.

2.
Bicycle Crunch

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by Jessica Aronoff.

How-to:

Start in the same position. Lie on your mat, with your hands behind your head, and your feet up in a tabletop position. Feel your tailbone and lower back anchor down into the mat.

Extend your left leg long, and twist your torso to the right so your left elbow touches the inside of your right knee. Return to start, then repeat on the opposite side.

Continue for 1 minute. Rest for 15 seconds, then continue to the next exercise.

3.
V Ups

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by Mindy Lai

How-to:

Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight.

Simultaneously raise your arms and legs as high as you can, keeping them as straight as possible. Try to touch your feet to your hands before lowering back down and repeating.

Continue for 30 seconds.

4.
Forearm Plank

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by BB Arrington.

How-to:

Start on all fours, then bring your forearms to the mat.

Extend your legs out, and lift your body up.

Pull your belly button toward the spine, press your forearms into the ground, press your shoulders down to your hips, and squeeze the glutes. This helps engage the whole body.

5.
Leg Raises

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by Suki Clemens.

How-to:

Lie on your mat, with legs straight out in front of you. Press the low back into the ground. Place your hands underneath your seat for extra support if needed, but keep your low back imprinted.

Engage your core and lift your legs until they form a 90-degree angle with your body.

Slowly lower them back down until they’re hovering over the ground (or as far as you can go without your back peeling off the mat).

That’s one rep. Continue for 30 seconds.

6.
Situps

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by Mindy Lai.

How-to:

Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground, hip-width apart.

Take your hands behind your ears (you can also cross your arms over your chest), and keep the neck neutral. Inhale.

On your exhale, engage your core to sit all the way up, with your entire back off the ground.

Slowly lower back to the starting position as you inhale. Repeat for 30 seconds, then move into V-Ups.

7.
Windmill

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by BB Arrington.

How-to:

Stand with feet just outside of shoulder width.

Turn one leg out about 30 degrees.

Hold the dumbbell in the hand with the turned-out leg.

Reach your other arm up to the sky.

Like you are tracing your turned-out leg, lower the weight down toward your foot, bending over without twisting your chest to the floor.

Using your obliques, lift back up to the start position.

8.
Reverse Iso Crunch

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by BB Arrington.

How-to:

Lie on the mat; bring your shins to tabletop. Press your palms into the floor to help with stability.

Slowly tip your pelvis toward your face, lifting your hips up slightly. You’re not trying to rock and bring your knees overhead; it’s just a small movement.

Return back to start with control.

That’s one rep. Continue for 30 seconds.

9.
Seated Oblique Twist

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by BB Arrington.

How-to:

Sit on your mat. Plant your heels on the floor, sit up tall, and tip back slightly. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands.

Inhale. As you exhale, twist your body toward your left hip. Rotate to the other side. (Imagine your torso is a wet towel you’re wringing out.)

That’s one rep. Continue for 30 seconds.

10.
Hollow Hold Variation

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by BB Arrington.

How-to:

Sit on your mat. Plant your heels on the floor, sit up tall, and tip back slightly. Hold one dumbbell in your right hand.

Engage your core, reach the weight up to the sky, tip back a little farther. Bring your weight to the right side, then bring it back to center. Grab the weight in your left hand, and bring it out to the left side. Be sure to keep your torso as stable as possible as you twist from side to side.

Note: For an extra challenge, try lifting your feet off the ground.

Continue for 30 seconds.

11.
Crunch Variations

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mbg creative

Demonstrated by CJ Frogozo.

How-to:

Lie on your back. Bring your hands behind your head. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders, and hold.

Keep your chin off your chest, and drill the belly button toward the spine.

Bring your legs into tabletop, or bring them to the floor. Lift your chest and shoulders as you exhale, and inhale on the way down. Continue for 2 minutes.

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