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The Top 15 Abs Toning and Strengthening Exercises

The Top 15 Abs Toning and Strengthening Exercises

Few people would turn down the opportunity to have more chiseled abs. While achieving a toned physique is a worthy and motivating fitness goal, the truth is that the value of abs-targeting exercises goes far beyond aesthetics. The abdominal muscles are an important part of the core, which also includes the torso and hip muscles (the abs, obliques, back extensors, glutes, and more). Posture, functional strength, movement efficiency, and physical performance all benefit from a strong core. Core strength, according to fitness experts, is at the foundation of most movement patterns.

As a result, it should come as no surprise that there are a plethora of abs exercises. But which ones are effective? Do we need to do crunches? Sit-ups in their entirety? Do you go to the gym and use ab machines? Planking for a long time? The choices can be overwhelming. So, to make sense of all the ab exercises out there, we enlisted the help of two fitness experts to create a routine that will tone, sculpt, and strengthen our abs. With these moves, you can rest assured that your ab workouts are worthwhile and will aid in the development of functional and balanced core strength.

Precautions and Safety

Most people should be able to do the exercises in this routine as long as proper form and technique are used. If you have an injury, illness, or are pregnant, you should seek medical advice before beginning the exercises. Our experts also emphasize the importance of focusing on using your core rather than relying on momentum or pulling up on your head or neck to raise your body during each exercise. Engaging your core not only improves the effectiveness of the exercise, but it also reduces the risk of injury from pulling on your neck.

Precautions & Safety

As long as proper form and technique are used, the exercises in this routine should be safe for most people. If you have an injury, illness, or are pregnant, you should seek medical advice before performing the exercises. Our experts also emphasize the importance of using your core to lift your body rather than relying on momentum or pulling up on your head or neck. Engaging your core not only improves the effectiveness of the exercise, but it also reduces the risk of neck injury.

Jenkins considers Abbott's Pedialyte Sport to be her "secret sauce" for herself and the athletes she works with because it contains five key electrolytes for quick rehydration and muscle support, "It also has a quarter of the sugar of the leading sports drink." It's made to meet our hydration needs while we're working out. I always keep a few powder packs in my bag because they are convenient for when I'm on the go. All you have to do is mix it with water and you're ready to go "she explains.


"Many people want to 'get abs,' so they work their core. Although having visible abdominal muscles is appealing, Megan Martin points out that "very few people will actually achieve a six-pack," and that "no amount of targeted core work can outwork a poor diet to give you visible abs." "A proper diet must be used to reduce the layer of fat that accumulates over your stomach," she explains. In other words, you won't be able to lose fat in specific areas of your body. Although diet is the most important factor in fat loss, exercise is also beneficial, and a well-rounded program will yield the best results.

Jenkins agrees, stating that slimming and strengthening your waistline requires both diet and exercise. "You have to pay attention to your meal plan just as much as your training schedule if you want to make gains, burn fat, or build stamina," she says. "If you want to burn body fat and slim down your midsection, you absolutely must have a calorie deficit at the end of the day."

Hydrating with water or a low-sugar electrolyte drink like Pedialyte Sport, she says, also aids your body's efficiency. "To see those gains and help your muscles recover after an intense workout, you need to rehydrate," she says. "To avoid dehydration, the first step is to choose a high-quality drink with the right ingredients."

Remember that targeted core work has benefits that go beyond appearances, making it essential to include in your workout routine. 2 "A strong core helps you perform better in all athletic movements." Building core strength is a basic foundation if you want to add weight to your squat, deadlift, bench press, or overhead press," says Martin. "A strong core also aids in the prevention and relief of lower-back pain."

Raise the front of the plank

This is an anti-rotational core exercise that will help your entire core develop the strength necessary to stabilize your body while moving. It also strengthens the lower back's extensor muscles.

Maintain a straight line from your feet to the top of your head by doing a push-up or forearm plank (either works).

  • Raise one arm so that it is parallel to your face without moving your butt into the air. Martin explains, "Raise and lower your arms slowly." "As you switch arms, keep your legs locked and avoid swaying side to side."
  • Return to the starting position after one full breath is held.
  • Alternate arms for a total of 10 reps on each side.

Plank with three points

Instead of lifting your arm, this plank variation lifts your leg. Your glutes and hamstrings will also get some extra work.

  • Maintain a straight back while performing a forearm plank.
  • Lift one leg at a time, toes pointing down, and hold for 30 seconds once your core is stable.
  • Switch sides and hold for 30 seconds on each side, keeping your hips parallel to the ground.

Plank on the side

Another anti-rotational exercise, but this time the focus is on your obliques. These are the abs' "side" muscles, which aid in bending and rotational movements.

  • Stack your legs on top of each other and lay on your side.
  • Extend the arm that is resting on the ground on the side of your body. You keep your legs straight and your feet stacked one on top of the other. Martin recommends concentrating on pushing your top hip up to the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, or if your form begins to waiver, stop sooner.
  • Rep on the opposite side. Hold the position for 30 seconds.

Crunches with toes touching

Martin offers some tips for this activity: "Most people won't be able to touch their toes, which is fine! It all comes down to abs contraction."

  • Lift both legs straight up from the ground while lying on your back.
  • Extend both arms straight up, perpendicular to your torso, while keeping your head and shoulders on the floor.
  • As you reach for your toes, engage your abs while keeping your lower back firmly planted on the mat.
  • Hold for one second before lowering your head and shoulders to the floor with control.
  • Rep 15–30 times more.

Wipers for the Windshield

The abs, obliques, hip stabilizers, and low back muscles are all targeted in this challenging move.

Squeeze your hips together and raise your legs straight up into the air until they are perpendicular to the ground while lying on your back. The palms of your hands should face down and your arms should be out to the sides.

  • Bring both legs to one side, hips stacked, and hold for one second. Return to the center after that.
  • Continuously alternate sides for 30 seconds.

Kicking Crabs

You probably haven't done a crab walk since elementary school PE class, but this variation is a core-toning beast.

  • Crab-walk with your hips lifted and off the ground the entire time, using your core.
  • Kick up your right leg while reaching up to meet it with your left hand.
  • Lower that leg and hand, then repeat the process on the opposite side.
  • Perform 10-15 reps on each side.

Sit-Ups for Sprinters

This exercise targets your lower abs as well as your hip flexors.

  • Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs stretched out.
  • Exhale and sit up quickly, bringing your right arm and left leg up in a running motion.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your body to the ground.
  • On each side, repeat 10 times.

Pikes in the shape of balls

While this is a more advanced move, once you've mastered it, your abs will be burning like crazy.

  • Grab an exercise ball and place your shins on top of it, forming a standard push-up position with the rest of your body.
  • Slowly bring the ball closer to your body until your tiptoes are on top of the ball.
  • Use your core to lift your hips in the air as you pull the ball in slightly, and bring your head in between your arms so that you're looking at your hips. 
  • Rep 10 times more.

Bugs that have died

This exercise requires some coordination, but it's a great way to improve functional stability throughout your core.

  • Lie down on your back with your arms extended in front of you, perpendicular to your torso.
  • Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and lift both feet off the mat.
  • Slowly and steadily lower one leg to the ground, and extend the opposite arm above your head.
  • Return the leg and arm to their starting positions, then repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
  • Perform 10-15 reps on each side.

Drops with a single leg

This move is one of Martin's favorites because it tones the lower abs, hip flexors, and quads while also improving pelvic stability.

  • Lie down on your back, legs extended and arms at your sides.
  • Keep one foot on the ground while bending one knee.
  • Use your core to lift the straight leg off the ground until it is perpendicular to the floor, with your toes flexed.
  • Point the toes and slowly lower the leg, pausing and holding for a second just before it touches the ground.
  • Continue lifting and lowering for a total of 10 reps, then switch legs.

Crunches of Butterflies

In addition to the abs on top of them, this variation on traditional crunches will work your deep core muscles.

  • Lie down on your back with your legs in a "butterfly" position, with your knees bent and open and the soles of your feet pressed together. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head.interlace your fingers.
  • Lift your head and shoulders off the ground by engaging your abs. Pulling your neck and head up with your upper body is not a good idea.
  • Crunch as high as you can, then gradually lower your head and shoulders to the ground.
  • Perform 15 repetitions.


The key to mastering this exercise and reaping the benefits is to maintain control and go as slowly as possible, which will help you build core strength, stability, and balance.

  • Put your arms fully extended and your wrists under your shoulders in the push-up position.
  • Bring one knee to your chest and hold the contraction for one second while keeping your body in a straight line.
  • With each leg, perform 10 repetitions.

Bird Dog is a canine companion.

Martin likes to incorporate this exercise into his core workouts because it helps him develop functional core stability and balance. The lower back, glutes, shoulders, and abs are all strengthened as well.

  • Kneel on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Make sure your back is completely flat, as if it were a tabletop.
  • With your right arm, reach straight out in front of you while extending your left leg straight back.
  • Return to the starting position after a one-breath hold.
  • On each side, repeat 10 times.

Extensions for the back

Your core includes your back. Your abdominal muscles and spinal extensor muscles work together to form a "girdle" that gives you support and stability. Martin recommends feeling this exercise in the small of your back.

  • Lie on your stomach with your arms straight out in front of you.
  • In a swimming motion, bring your arms behind your back. It's fine if you don't have the flexibility to reach all the way behind you, says Martin.
  • Lift your head and upper chest off the ground as you pull your arms back.
  • Return to the starting position with your arms, and lower your head and chest to the ground.
  • Rep 10-12 times more.


"This exercise appears to be simple, but it is actually a superior core exercise because it targets all of the core's anterior muscles," Martin explains.

  • Extend your arms behind your head while lying on your back.
  • Pull your arms over your head as you slowly contract your core and sit up as straight as you can.
  • With your arms extended, reach for your feet.
  • Rep 10 times more.

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