Get ready to revamp your ab workout routine with this list of effective ab exercises for women.
All of the exercises can be done at home with little to no equipment. However, we will include a few modifications that add weight to make them more challenging.
Below is a list of ab exercises designed to target your rectus abdominal muscles (a.k.a your six-pack muscles) and your core muscles.
When a personal trainer talks about your core, these are the muscles in your upper torso that connect your hips and shoulders, and this muscle group is involved in almost all the moves you make.
The advantage of using these exercises as an at-home ab workout is that they will promote fat loss and build core strength at the same time.
As people get older, having a strong core can keep them mobile and active.
So, these core movements that make for great-looking ab muscles can also improve your long term health.
Before we go into the abs workout, let’s answer a few questions you might have regarding abdominal exercises and belly fat.
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
In some ways, this is a tricky question. Any effective ab workout will be excellent for building strength and muscle.
A strong core improves your stability, your posture, and overall fitness. However, if you are specifically looking for the best exercise to help with extra fat loss and visible abs, you will need to come at your weight loss from a couple of different angles.
Cardio exercise gets your heart rate up and is an effective way to burn calories. There are many reasons why we recommend the effectiveness of cardio in reducing fat and creating washboard abs.
And you need to reduce fat to make your toned abdominal muscles visible. At the same time, you need to strengthen your stomach muscles. So, women who want six-pack abs will combine cardio and strength training moves.
The good news is, some of our favorite ab exercises combine both. The mountain climber is a good example and is #7 on our list of the best ab exercises.
It is both a cardio and an abs exercise that works your abdominal muscles and raises your heart rate and helps you burn calories and fat.
How Can I Tone My Core Muscles Fast?
The best way to see fast results is to combine exercises that work your abs muscles with a healthy diet. You want a diet that combines whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
Along with solid nutrition, pair your ab routine with cardio, strength training for optimal results. Together, they will help you burn off fat and help you tone your abdominals fast.
Cardio builds endurance and burns calories, while the function of strength training is to build lean muscle.
Lean muscle will help boost your metabolism. If you have never done resistance training like squats, deadlifts, or rows, a certified strength trainer can help.
When you put all this together, you will have functional strength and a trim waistline.
How Do Women Get a Toned Stomach?
The stomach area is a stubborn area to lose weight for both men and women. Some of this comes down to genetics.
For most women, losing fat from the abdominal region and achieving a flat stomach is a significant task.
Notably, when compared to men, most women have a fuller pelvis circumference and a taller waist, which makes it even more challenging for women to get rid of belly fat and get 6 pack abs.
That is not to say, having a visible six-pack is impossible. But, it will require a bit more persistence, commitment, and hard work. But with continuous effort and the right exercises, you can achieve a toned stomach and a stronger core.
Though we call this a workout for the abdomen, we address all the muscles in your abdomen and your core, including your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, and back hip flexors, and all other adjacent stabilizing muscles.
Some of these will even work your entire body. By engaging more muscles, you’ll build more lean muscle mass, burning more calories and fat.
For the best results, use a workout containing some of the following exercises three times a week. That will help increase muscle definition.
What Is the Best Ab Workout for Home?
The best ab exercises for at home will improve core strength with minimal equipment and no exercise machines. You want workouts that are appropriate for a beginner, but with modification, are perfect for an athlete.
The core exercises for women on this list are practical exercises. They can be done anywhere and do not require equipment.
We like these because you can use them to get a quick workout in on a break from work, while at home watching a movie, or in the park.
Look for compound movements that target several muscle groups at once. Then, take several from the list, create a body fat burning circuit, or set a timer for a powerful 10-minute ab workout.
- To do a dead bug, lie on your back on a yoga mat or towel with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your hips and knees at 90-degree angles. (Think of the tabletop position, but you are laying on your back.)
- Take a deep breath and engage your abdominal area. Think of bringing your belly button to your spine. As you exhale, lower your left leg and extend your right arm behind your head.
- Pause, and return to your original position. Now do the opposite side, and keep alternating legs and arms until you complete a set. Do 8-12 repetitions per side.
2. Plank Position
- Lie facedown on the ground with your legs extended; elbows bent directly under your shoulders. Clasp your hands in front of you or make loose fists. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your head in a neutral position.
- Brace your core, then tuck your toes to raise your body. (Your forearms will remain on the ground) to form a straight line from head to heels.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds or as long as you can. Complete 3-5 holds.
Want to add more core engagement? Elevate by having either your arms or your feet on a Swiss ball. The effort to maintain balance and proper form will use all your core muscles.
3. Dynamic Plank
Not only is this workout great for your stomach region, but it also will build muscle in your triceps.
- Start in a forearm plank position described above; however, your hands should be flat on the floor. Tighten your core, and support your body weight on your arms and toes. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Brace your core by contracting your midsection as if you were about to be punched in the stomach. Press into your right palm and extend first your right arm and then the left, pushing your body up into the top position of a pushup.
- Pause, then reverse the movement and return to your right forearm, followed by the left.
4. Russian Twists
Russian Twists are a great core workout that really targets the external obliques.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet off the floor. Lean back, so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Your weight should be on your sit bones. Clasp your hands together and extend your arms straight out in front of your chest. Brace the muscles of your abdomen and rotate your torso to the right as far as you can.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then reverse the movement and twist back to the left as far as you can. Continue alternating back and forth until you complete 8-12 reps on each side. Do 2-3 sets.
Note: if you have a dumbbell, you can add intensity by holding it and tapping the floor as you twist.
5. Bicycle Crunch
The bicycle crunch is a great ab workout trainers have loved for years, with good reason. As opposed to the regular crunch, the twisting movement hits your oblique muscles. Don’t be surprised. if you also feel this one in your quads!
- Lie faceup on a yoga mat, with your lower back pressed to the ground and your core engaged. Place your hands behind your ears, gently holding your head with your fingertips. Bring your knees toward your chest to about a 45-degree angle.
- Lift your upper back until your shoulder blades are off the mat. Be sure not to pull from your neck. Brace your stomach and straighten your leg on the right out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward the left knee.
- Make sure your rib cage is moving, not just your elbows. Continue alternating from side to side to complete one set. Do 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
6. Cross-Body Toe Touch Crunch
- Lie faceup on a mat with your arms extended straight out from your shoulders and your legs straight.
- Keeping your legs straight, lift your left leg straight up at 90-degrees. Contract your core, and in one motion, reach your right arm across your body and try to touch your left toe.
- Hold for 2 seconds, then, still with a straight leg, slowly lower back down to the starting position. Each rotation and touch is a rep; continue for ten repetitions. Then do the opposite leg, raise your right leg, and touch your right toes with your left hand.
7. Mountain Climber Exercise
As mentioned, Mountain Climbers (and the Cross-body Mountain Climbers variation) are one of the best ab exercises to build strength and get your heart rate up. You may also feel this one in your calves.
- To perform this exercise, get into a full-body push-up position with your arms extended and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Brace your core. Then bend your right leg, raising your knee towards your chest. Don’t round your back. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.
- Continue alternating for the prescribed number of repetitions, or do as many as possible in 30 seconds.
8. Cross-Body Mountain Climbers
- These exercises are a modification of the one above. Like in a Mountain Climber, start at the top in a pushup position with your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Keeping your midsection engaged, bend your leg, bringing your right knee toward your left shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.
- Continue alternating for the prescribed number of repetitions, or do as many as possible in 30 seconds. The quicker you do these, the more endurance you will build.
9. Leg Lifts
Leg Lifts, also known as Leg Raises, seem simple but pack a powerful punch to our rectus abdominis.
- Lie on an exercise or yoga mat, and using your abdomen, raise your legs so they’re upright directly over your hips.
- Rest your palms down at your sides or clasp them behind your head. Contract your abdominals, and use your lower abs to lift your legs off the floor. Keep your lower back and glutes on the floor.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower your legs back down towards the floor. Do 8 to 12 reps.
Note: if you have back pain, this may not be a good exercise for you. Seek medical advice before adding these to your home workout.
10. Crossed Leg Crunch
Get ready to feel the burn – this abs workout can be intense!
- Lie on the floor face up and cross your left ankle over your right knee. Support your head with hands, but do not pull on your head as you curl up— let your rectus abdominis do the work for you.
- Lifting your upper back, head, and shoulders off the floor, contract your stomach as you curl straight up towards your legs.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the start. Aim 12-15 reps per side for 2-3 sets.
11. Down-Dog Leg Lift
- Get into the downward-facing dog yoga position. Start on all fours, then engage your abs and lift your hips and butt toward the ceiling until your arms and legs are fully extended.
- Now, raise your right leg so the sole of your right foot is toward the ceiling. (If this is too difficult at first, you can start by just going to hip height.) Then bring your right knee in, pulling it toward your sternum, as if you were going to hit your forehead.
- Tighten your abs and extend your right leg back, and put your foot back on the floor. Switch legs and repeat. Complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
12. Knee to Elbow Crunch
- Lie flat on your back on a mat and place your hands behind the head to support your neck. Tighten your abs, then lift your shoulders off the mat. Bend at the knee, so your thighs are facing the wall behind you.
- Keeping your core engaged, attempt to reach your left knee with your right elbow. Return and then attempt to reach your right knee with your left elbow.
- Complete 12-15 reps per side for 2-3 sets.
13. Toe Touch Crunch
- Lie flat on your back on a mat and fully extend your legs. Stretch your arms behind you before you begin.
- Tighten your abs. Now, bring your head and shoulders off the mat while reaching your arms up, bringing your toes toward your hands. If needed, you can touch with one hand while placing the other behind your head to support your neck.
- Complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
14. Scissor Crunch
- Lie flat on your back. Your arms should be against the sides of your body, palms pressing into the floor. Bend your knees, drawing them into your ribs; this will make it easier for you to pull your navel in toward your spine and actively press your lower back flat on the ground.
- Lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to keep your abs engaged and pressing your lower back into the ground.
- Keeping your core tight, slowly lower your right leg until it is a few inches above the ground. Then slowly alternate your legs, lifting your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down toward the ground.
- Continue scissoring for 15 to 20 times on each leg.
15. Rolling Plank
- The rolling plank is excellent for working your side abs. Start in a forearm plank, as described above. Roll into a side plank position on your left side, so your weight is on your left forearm, staggering your right foot in front of the left foot. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling as you roll.
- Pause, then reverse the movement to return to the forearm plank. Repeat on the other side, rolling onto your right arm.
- Continue from side to side for 10-12 reps on each side.
16. Plank Side Tuck
- From a high plank, bend your knees and jump your feet into the outside of your right hand, landing in a crouch on the balls of your feet.
- Jump up and extend your legs back out to the plank. That’s one rep.
- Repeat as quickly as you can. This time jump into the outside of your left hand and continue alternating for 12-15 reps on each side.
Tip: Keep your weight in your arms to make jumping in and out easier. If it’s too challenging to jump, start with Mountain Climbers and work your way up to these.
17. Diagonal Plank
- Start in a high plank position, with your arms and legs extended. Then walk your legs apart until they are a bit wider than your hips. Lift your hips are lifted so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
- Keeping your torso stable, lift your right arm up and slightly out on the diagonal. Hold this position for two seconds, then return to your high plank.
- This completes one rep. Do all reps on the right, then repeat with the left arm. Complete 12-15 reps on each side.
18. Crunch Clap
- Lie on your back on your mat and raise your shoulder blades slightly off of the floor. Lift your left leg, bending at the knee, while keeping the other leg extended along the floor. Crunch up slightly and clap your hands behind your bent knee.
- Return to the starting position and alternate, moving quickly and steadily. Complete 10-12 reps per side for three to four sets.
These abs exercises can be a challenge, and you will definitely feel them in your midsection!
- Lie on your back and extend your arms straight above you, then lift your arms and your legs at the same time into a V to touch your toes with the tips of your fingers.
- Lower your legs and arms to return to the starting position. If you don’t have the range of motion to touch your toes, start with touching your shins.
- Repeat and complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
Want to add an extra challenge? Hold a medicine ball between your hands
20. Side Bridge
- Get into a side plank. One forearm will be on the floor, your other arm can rest along your side, or you can place your hand on your hip. Stack your legs and ankles on top of each other.
- Engage your abs, and lift your top hip to the ceiling. Your upper torso will be off the floor.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the movement until you complete 10-12 reps. Switch sides and complete 2-3 sets total.
21. Side V-Up
- Lie on your right side, with your left hand up behind your head and right hand on the floor, palm down.
- Press down into your right hand. Simultaneously, raise both of your legs together in the air towards your left elbow, and bring your elbow towards your legs.
- Lower yourself back to the floor with control. That’s one rep. Continue for 12-15 reps. Then switch sides and repeat on the other side.
22. One-Leg Plank
- Start by getting into a high plank position, arms extended. Once positioned, lift one leg off of the floor and keep it fully extended.
- Keep your body balanced in that position and hold for 10-20 seconds. Lower your leg and return to the starting position.
- Rest for a second or two, then repeat on the other leg. Complete 2-3 reps on each side for three sets.
Note: If this is too hard on your wrists, you can also do this in the forearm plank position.
23. Side Plank Toe Touch
- Get into a high side plank position with your hand under your shoulder and your bottom leg slightly in front of your top leg. Your bottom foot should rest on its outer side. After you are balanced, raise your top arm and keep your gaze straight ahead.
- Kick your bottom leg up and forward, slightly twisting your upper body to reach your hand to your foot.
- Return your leg to the starting position and repeat. Complete 10-12 reps, then switch sides. Repeat and complete 2-3 sets.
This classic move can be performed on the floor or a stability ball.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head so that your thumbs are behind your ears. Don’t lace your fingers across together.
- Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few inches of space between your chin and your chest. Gently pull your abdominals inward to tighten your abs. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor.
- Hold for 1-2 counts at the top of the movement and then lower slowly back down. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions.
Note: Reverse crunches (where you lift your lower body instead of your upper body) are another great addition to your training routine.
Boat poses, otherwise known as hollow holds, are a great static hold that you will feel in your midsection!
- Start by sitting with your knees bent, soles of your feet resting lightly on the floor. Engage your core and slowly recline back. Balance on your tailbone while maintaining a straight back.
- Bring your arms straight in front of you, then raise your legs straight to create a V-shape with your torso and legs. Hold that position for 30 to 60 seconds.
There you have it!
This is your ultimate abs workout cheat sheet. Now you have enough variety of exercises for your abs to create the perfect routine that will score you amazing visible abs.
What was your favorite workout for abs from the list? Let us know in a comment below.