The goal of ab exercises isn’t all about sculpting a six-pack or chiseling your middle. The core of every day movements comes from just that — your core. You need a solid midsection to stand upright, stay steady on your feet and twist and turn sans injury. (Though scoring flat abs is certainly a sweet bonus!)
So how do you land a stronger core? Work it from every angle and switch up your routine often. That’s where these 50 anything-but-boring abs exercises come in. They’ll skyrocket your strength and stability — and help you score that toned midsection in the meantime. Say hello to going hardcore.
RELATED: 50 Butt Exercises to Sculpt Stronger Glutes
Take Your Core Workout Beyond Crunches and Sit-Ups
When it comes to improving core stability, the plank has your back (and your front!). By working your transverse abdominis — the deep core muscles that wrap around your middle — as well as your back, shoulders and glutes (yes, you should activate your butt, too), you get a full body burn in one isometric movement. But the best thing about planks: You can continuously switch them up and make your muscles work even more. Check out these creative twists on a typical plank routine and you’ll see what we mean.
1. Spiderman Plank
Get total-body toned with this amped up plank. While performing a triceps push-up, bring your knee to the outside of your elbow, and switch sides on the next rep. Don’t drop or pike your hips through the entire move — your body should stay in a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
2. Sphinx to Forearm Plank
A slight twist on a high-low plank move, you’ll flow from a yoga sphinx pose (similar to a baby cobra) into a forearm plank. Try to minimize movement in your hips as you go.
3. Reach Around the Clock Planks
A regular plank is tough in itself. But balancing on one arm? Talk about taking this core challenge up a notch.
4. Army Crawl Side Planks
Take your abs workout to P.E. class and army crawl your way across the mat. Stay low in a strong forearm plank as you slither your arms and legs forward. Then finish with a side plank to target your obliques.
5. TRX Plank to Pike
Talk about tough! This pike-up plank offers a gymnastic element to build strength in your lower abs. The higher you pike, the harder the exercise…and the stronger your core.
Ask most fitness experts to break down the basics of a push-up and they’ll tell you it’s a moving plank. So learn how to master that solid, isometric position before you move onto the push-up part. When you do, you’ll build muscle in your entire upper body.
7. Side Plank with Leg Raise
Foam rollers not only loosen up your fascia, they also add a stabilization challenge to ab exercises. In this side plank variation, you’ll feel your midsection fighting to keep your body steady.
8. The Snake
A chaturanga-inspired exercise often done on a reformer, you’ll take this move to the mat. Your obliques work to bring you upright, as the rest of your core stays tight to move you through the middle.
Do three moves for the work of one! This combination exercise not only targets your obliques and transverse abdominis, but also your hips and lats. A triple threat you’ll want to keep tackling.
10. Plank Jacks to Tuck Jump
Crush a core workout while also squeezing in some cardio. This two-for-one move will rev your heart rate, as you reach new calorie-torching heights. From the jack to the jump, it’s one quick ab-strengthening routine.
11. Ab Roller
Skip the infomercial-inspired equipment and grab a towel for this “rolling” move. As you slide the towel forward on the floor, you’ll sculpt your stomach. Just don’t forget to keep your pelvis in a neutral position.
12. Giant Clam
BOSU balls work great for bettering your balance — and improving your core stability. This take on a conventional clamshell further challenges your abs, as you aim to keep your hips lifted.
13. Rotating Renegade Row
Chisel your core by mixing a push-up, row and T raise. Your midsection muscles work to keep your body in one long line, as you flow through the three-move mash-up.
14. Knee Tucks
Rowers aren’t reserved for cardio — though this will get your heart pumping. Hold a solid plank as you use your lower abs to drive both knees into your chest, without dropping or raising your hips.
Next Up: Crunches and Sit-Ups