We all want washboard abs (if you don't, you should). The only problem is that it's the hardest place to lose fat.
The good news is that the ab muscles are really easy to strengthen, and you can do some pretty advanced moves with just your body weight. These exercises are designed to work your entire core, hitting each of the three major muscle groups simultaneously.
What are the Best Ab Exercises for Women?
1. The Plank.
By now you should know all about the benefits of planks, but that doesn't make them any less effective.
The basic plank (pictured above) is great as it requires zero equipment and little effort on your part; just hold yourself in a push-up position for 60 seconds to work those abs like crazy.
2. Bicycle Crunch.
This is a highly effective yet simple move that you can do to work both sides of your abdominal muscles simultaneously while also improving your coordination and balance. In fact, this exercise might be even more effective than regular bicycle crunches because you're forced to engage your abs throughout the entire movement.
Give it a shot!
3. Russian Twist.
This is, bar none, the simplest yet most effective ab exercise that you can do at home or in the gym with zero equipment. For this one, just sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet about hip-width apart (you can increase or decrease the difficulty by adjusting the width of your feet).
Simply lean back slightly, engage your abs, and use your obliques to twist your torso as far as you can to the left and then to the right. If you want an even greater challenge, do this exercise with your legs raised off the floor.
4. Side Plank.
The side plank isn't actually a new exercise, but it's become really popular over the past few years. This can be done on both sides and is very effective for working those oblique muscles.
Simply hold yourself in a wide push-up position, making sure to keep your body straight, then alternate which side you're holding the position on every 10 seconds. Also, remember to keep breathing throughout the entire exercise!
5. Plank Jacks.
These are just like they sound—a mix between a standard plank and jumping jacks. They'll challenge your core even more than regular planks will.
To do Plank Jacks, simply shift your weight forward slightly and jump your legs out to the side as you bring them back together. You can either hold this position for a few seconds or continue the motion (but remember that dropping down isn't optional).
6. Reverse Crunch.
If you want an easier way to do the reverse crunch, all you have to do is hook a resistance band around both ankles, lie on your back as you normally would with the band looped underneath your feet, and then pull your knees into your chest.
Additionally, if you want to make the exercise even more challenging, try adding a squeeze at the top of each rep where you hold the contraction for a few seconds—this will make the exercise even more effective.
7. Russian Twist on Swiss Ball.
To make this move easier, just put your feet up on something that's about hip-width apart or wider. Try to keep your lower back pressed into the ball as you twist from side to side—you may have to start off with just the bar before adding the weight.
8. Mountain Climber.
This move is one of the best ways to work your core while also improving your hip flexion and leg drive, which are important for sports performance (and not getting injured).
To do this exercise, get down on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
Keep your head, neck, and shoulders aligned with your body as you lift one leg off the floor and bring that knee toward your chest (don't let it touch). Then, alternate legs until all reps are complete.
9. Stability Ball Pike.
A stability ball pike is just like a regular pike, but you use a ball instead of the floor to help support your body.
To do this exercise, simply position yourself on top of a stability ball with your hands in front of you in a pushup position, then walk your hands back toward the ball until your hips are elevated above your shoulders (where you'll hold for the entire set). Try to keep your abs engaged throughout the entire movement.
10. Sit Up With Medicine Ball.
This is a great option if you don't have access to weights or can't seem to get heavy enough with bodyweight movements.
Simply sit on the floor with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the ground, hold a medicine ball (or any type of weight) with both hands in front of your chest, and then crunch it in toward your chest while you simultaneously sit up. Try to get the ball to touch your chest for maximum results.
Should women avoid doing ab exercises?
There is no evidence that suggests women should avoid doing ab exercises. In fact, there are many benefits to performing ab exercises, such as improving core strength and stability, aiding in weight loss, and reducing the risk of back pain.
How many times a week should I do ab exercises?
Most experts recommend performing ab exercises two to three times per week. However, it is important to listen to your body and perform the exercises at an intensity that feels comfortable for you.
How long should I do ab exercises?
The length of your ab workout will depend on the number of exercises you perform and the amount of time you spend on each exercise. A general rule of thumb is to aim for a total workout time of 20-30 minutes.
There you have it! 10 great exercises to help you improve your core strength in no time. Keep in mind that these are not meant to be easy, and they will be hard to do—but you should only need to perform them for 30 seconds at a time before taking a short break.
As far as reps, you should aim for 10-20 reps per exercise and 2-4 sets total. If this is too easy, try wearing a weighted vest or an ankle weight, and then gradually increase the amount of weight you're holding as your core becomes stronger.