We support using planks to build a stronger core. You have a few go-to exercises on a mat to cool down.
If you are seeking ways to optimize your ab workout routine, we have 17 suggestions.
When you next visit the gym, complete two to three sets of the exercises listed below; as with all things “exercise,” consistent practice will improve results.
Approaches to Effective Abdominal Training at the Gym
1. Hanging leg circles
Reach up to grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing each other. Your arms should be extended all the way. The bar should be high enough that you can hang from it without your feet touching the ground. Keeping your legs straight and your core engaged, move your feet in a big circle in the air.
Keep your abs tight, so your body doesn’t move around too much. Go in the opposite direction. One circle in each direction equals one rep. Do 8 to 10 reps.
2. Hanging bicycles
Elbows and knees should form a 90-degree angle, with knees higher than hips, then explosively extend legs to a 3 o’clock position. The move may appear as if you are running in the air, but it is effective. Hold on to a pull-up bar with your palms facing each other and your arms extended. Ensure your core is engaged, and bring your knees up so they are at a 9 o’clock position (your elbows and knees should form a 90-degree angle, with your knees higher than your hips). Then, explosively extend your legs, so they are at a 3 o’clock position.
This exercise may look like you are running in the air, and it does work. Engage your core and pull your knees up to a 90-degree angle, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
While maintaining control, pedal your flexed feet as if riding a bicycle for 30 seconds.
3. Hanging side-to-side knees
- Grab hold of a pull-up bar.
- Bring your knees up towards the right side of your torso, letting them bend in the process.
- Bring your knees up close to your chest before slowly lowering back down to the starting position.
Repeat the exercise by pulling your knees to the left side of your chest. Both the right and left sides together count as one repetition. Complete eight to ten repetitions.
4. Cable isometric hold
Don’t worry if the cable machine seems daunting at first – it’s pretty easy to use. Start by adding a light weight (no more than 10 pounds) to the stack, and position the carriage, so it’s level with your chest. Stand next to the machine with your left side facing away.
Get a grip on one of the cables with both hands, then take a big step away from the machine. Hold the weight steady with your arms extended at chest height and in a half-squat position.
Keep your abs engaged, and hold the handle straight in front of your body. Don’t twist your body toward the machine. Instead, aim for perfect posture. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
5. Cable oblique crunch
Choose a weight that you can stack onto the cable machine. Move the carriage on the machine close to the floor. Stand so that your right side is facing the machine. Take hold of the cable handle with your right hand. Place your left hand behind your head.
Engage your obliques and lean away from the machine to the left, executing a standing side crunch. Return to the original position. Carry out 10-15 repetitions, then repeat on the other side.
6. Side plank with cable hold or row
If you have experience with a bodyweight side plank, you’re prepared for this exercise. Attach a light weight to the cable machine, move the carriage to a lower position, and stand a few feet away. Take the cable handle in your left hand and assume the side plank position on your right forearm, maintaining a stable core and feet. Extend the left arm, forming a T shape. Maintain the position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
7. Overhead kneeling cable hold
Attach a light weight to the cable machine and position the carriage close to the floor. Start by facing the machine with your right side, with your right foot and left knee on the floor.
Hold the cable handle and pull it overhead to complete this exercise. Keep your hands on the cable and place it on top of your head. Try to stay perfectly straight without leaning toward the machine. Remember to engage your core throughout the entire exercise.
Change sides so your left side is closer to the machine, and hold for 30 seconds.
8. Mountain climbers
Start by placing the Bosu ball with the bubble side down. Grip the edges of the flat side of the ball and start in a plank position.
Repeat bringing your knees up to your elbows quickly for 30 seconds.
To make it easier, bring your legs straight in toward your chest instead of to your opposite elbows.
To get into position, slowly lower into a squat, going as low as possible while maintaining good form. Sit on the Bosu ball with the flat side down, in the center of the bubble side. Your knees should be together and bent, and your feet should be on the floor. Keep your core engaged and your back straight as you hold a static position while maintaining good form.
Balance on your feet and raise your arms to form a V shape. Hold for 30 seconds.
10. Side crunch
The Bosu ball should be placed flat-side down. The right hip should be rested on the ball, with legs extended straight. Hands should be placed behind the head with bent elbows. The right hand can be placed on the floor if more support is needed.
To engage your obliques, crunch up to the left side and use your whole core to stabilize. Imagine bringing your left elbow to your left hip. Do 10-12 repetitions, then repeat on the other side.
11. Abs roll with side rotation
If you’ve never tried an ab wheel, you’re missing out — they’re fun to use. To use one, kneel on a mat with your knees hip-width apart. Grip the ab wheel handles and roll forward, engaging your core muscles.
Pause, and return to starting position. As you come forward, rotate the ab roller wheel towards the right in an arch. Rolling out to the left or right will engage your obliques. Roll out as far as you can without dropping or raising your torso. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
Roll back to the starting position, then roll out again to the left. Rolling out once to each side counts as one repetition—complete 10 to 12 repetitions.
12. Trunk twist
Stand between the TRX straps, facing them, with your feet a wee bit wider than hip-width apart. Grip the handles with both hands, making fists around each one. Take a few steps back from the straps, then lean away so your arms are held straight in front of you. Engage your core muscles to keep your balance.
To complete one rep:
- Start with your arms straight and pull yourself towards the straps.
- Drive your hands to the right and then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the same process, but drive your hands to the left this time.
To make the exercise easier, walk feet away from the straps. To make it more challenging, walk your feet toward the straps.
BARBBELL or BODY BAR
13. Lying side raise
Start on our right side, lying on our right hip. To make this easier, use the bar and stack your knees. Extend the top leg long and place the end cap of the bar in front of the ankle, flexing the foot. Beginners should stay on their forearms. Please take it to the full position for those a little more advanced. This move is 30 seconds on each side. Aim to keep the weight in the bar even, as this indicates your core is engaging to hold. If you’re noticing a lot of shifting, your core is engaging to hold. This one can be tough, so hold steady.
Lose the barbell if it’s too much in the beginning. A zero-weight variation will be much easier and help you ramp up your abs and core development. Depending on your level, you can make these moves easier by eliminating equipment or continuing to use a weighted body bar or a barbell.
Resistance Band Core Exercises
Resistance bands are a great way to improve your abs or core by providing extra resistance to bodyweight exercises. They can also be used to add variety to your current core routine.
Resistance band core exercises can work out your abs, obliques, and deeper core muscles. These muscles are pivotal in providing pelvic stability, stabilizing the lumbar spine, and generating power during dynamic activities.
Strengthen Your Core With Resistance Band Ab Exercises
Standing Pallof Hold
This drill involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and reaching forward with both hands while keeping your pelvis neutral.
The further you are from the anchor point, the greater the tension on the band. It is vital not to allow the pelvis to rotate or the shoulder to slump forward.
Reaching motions are a great way to reinforce scapular control and stability.
½ Kneeling Pallof Hold
Decreasing the standing to the half-kneeling position increases the need for better pelvic control to stop the hips from rotating.
This exercise is also great for people with trouble controlling one-sided movements, like lunges and split squats.
The positioning of this drill will inform lifters of the importance of bracing the core and contracting the glutes simultaneously for maximal spinal stability and strength.
Full Kneeling Pallof Hold
This movement is more difficult when done in a full kneeling position because the glutes and obliques have to work harder to resist the rotation of the hips since the leg muscles can’t help.
The Full Kneeling Pallof Hold + Reach is also an illustrative challenge to your pelvic stability, strength-building, and the ability to do more advanced exercises.
Dead Bug with Lateral Pallof Hold
The dead bug exercise is an excellent way to improve deep breathing, core strength, and spinal alignment.
The Pallof hold + Reach is a challenging movement that activates the obliques and pelvic stabilizers, especially those responsible for minimizing the elevation of the lateral aspects of the pelvis.
Performing squats with one leg can be a good option for people who shift to one side during this exercise. It is essential to keep the lower back flat on the floor, no matter where the legs or arms are.
Plank Row with Band
The plank exercise is a classic isometric exercise. Still, adding the band row can help build isometric strength during a more dynamic movement, which is more applicable to real life.
Rowing motions are more beneficial than horizontal pulls because they help increase scapular strength and control.
Side Plank Row with Band
To do a side plank, first, lie on your side with your legs straight. Then, prop yourself up on your forearm, keeping your elbow under your shoulder. Finally, raise your hips and knees, aligning your shoulders, hips, and ankles. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side. For a side plank exercise, lie on one side with your legs extended and support your upper body by resting on your forearm, ensuring your elbow is directly below your shoulder. Raise your hips and knees off the ground, aligning your shoulders, hips, and ankles. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side.
Including the band row in your workout routine will teach you how to do a row while engaging your core muscles and stabilizing your pelvis to prevent your body from rotating as you pull the band back.
4 Main Benefits of Core Muscle Training
Improved Balanced and Stability
The muscles in your core work together to stabilize your trunk during movements. An intense center helps you move more effectively in the gym, on the field or court, and in everyday life.
Stronger core muscles can help you maintain balance and stability, preventing you from being knocked off balance during dynamic movements.
Core muscles help stabilize the spine and pelvis and increase intra-abdominal pressure—an engaged core provides greater tension and stability during movements such as squats, deadlifts, and presses.
Lower back injuries are common in strength training when an athlete has poor core strength, pelvic stability, and posture.
You can help reduce your risk of injury during workouts and everyday life by building your core strength and increasing your awareness of proper posture and technique.
Your diet is critical to seeing results with carved abs and obliques, but core exercises and resistance training are the best way to develop the muscles.
Eating well and doing the below exercises will help you achieve the lean and athletic look you want.