Building hard rock-solid six-pack abs does more than just help you look good. A strong core makes everyday activities easier to perform such as walking, bending, twisting, or going up the stairs.
Having a strong core will improve your posture, stability, and balance as well as reduce your risk of low back pain.
A stronger core is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. And building core strength isn’t just about hammering out tons of sit-ups and crunches. Working your core in various ways is crucial to building comprehensive abdominal strength.
The good news is you don’t even need a gym membership to strengthen your core as most exercises that target your abs can be done at home.
Here are my favorite at-home ab workouts with step-by-step instructions on how to perform them.
Try doing three rounds of this workout series, two to three times a week to strengthen your entire core.
1. Bird Dog
The best way to torch your core and smoke your front abs is surprisingly a simple but demanding exercise like a bird dog.
This bodyweight exercise challenges your core like no other when your core is forced to engage to balance the body.
This test of your balance and stability is the main benefit of regularly performing bird dogs to get ripped abs.
It not only works the front abs (six-pack abs) but also recruits the entire core from the side of your abs and muscles that stretch to your back.
Not to mention, the bird dog exercise involves your arms and legs, toning your full-body one way or another.
As many perks this exercise brings, it’s grossly underrated and under-utilized.
If you don’t have this move in your regular abs workout, it’s time to make it a regular.
How to perform a bird dog:
- Start in a tabletop position on all your fours with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Brace your core and tighten your glutes. Straighten your right arm in front of you. Simultaneously, extend your left leg straight out behind you and hold the position.
- With control and your abs engaged, return your arm and leg to the starting position.
- Switch sides and repeat. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps per side.
2. Mountain Climber
If you are looking for a vigorous abs workout that also burns calories and fat, the mountain climber is the answer.
This advanced plank variation is challenging and daunting.
It adds loads of demands to your core while your legs, glutes, and hips are shuffling hard.
It’s primarily an abs and core workout, but it’s really a full-body exercise. It hits almost every muscle in your body from your hamstrings to the back to hold the upper body plank position while you run on the floor.
This exercise is a strengthening move with anaerobic benefits. It gets your heart rate up and burns your calories while making your core stronger.
Take your six-pack abs workout a notch with a mountain climber.
How to perform the exercise:
- Start in a plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and legs extended back. Come on your toes and prop your body so your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Adjust your body so your weight is distributed evenly between your forearms and toes.
- Keep your back neutral and engage your abs and core, so your hips don’t sag during the movements.
- Bring one knee to your chest. Quickly bring it back and bring the other knee into your chest. Repeat this at a faster pace alternating the right and left legs to imitate running motions on the floor.
- Continue for 30 seconds or as long as you can perform in good form. Complete 2-3 sets.
3. Bicycle Crunches
There are many abs exercises and crunch variations that are regarded as the best abs exercise.
But according to ACE 2001 research, the best abs exercise is crowned bicycle crunches.
This is one exercise that activates both the front rectus abdominis and side abs and obliques.
It also recruits the muscles in your lower and upper abs, covering more muscles in your torso than other popular workouts.
How to perform a bicycle crunch
- On a yoga mat, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your lower back pressed on the ground.
- Keep your hands behind your head and pull your shoulder blades back. Brace your core and lift your knees until they are stacked on top of your hips.
- With control, go through a pedaling motion with your legs by extending one leg while keeping the other in place. Bring the straight leg in and extend the other.
- Rotate your torso as you perform the bicycle pedaling motion.
- Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
4. Russian Twists
Another rotational abs exercise that works extremely well in shredding your six-pack abs.
It’s one exercise that smokes your entire core and improves your range of motion.
This exercise is popular in athletic training as it trains for rational movements.
While this looks like a simple exercise with some twist motions, it takes quite a bit of core and shoulder strength to perform and support.
You can perform this exercise with bodyweight or free weight like a kettlebell or dumbbell.
Here is how to perform a Russian twist.
- Sit on a yoga mat and bend your knees, so your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your upper body upright and straight and your core engaged. Lift your feet from the floor and extend your arms in front of you.
- Adjust your upper body so it’s at a 45-degree angle from the floor, forming a V shape.
- Use your abs and core to twist your upper body to the right and back to the center. The twist to the left and back to the center.
- Continue alternating until you perform 10-12 reps. Aim 2-3 sets.
5. Swiss Ball Crunch
- Lie on your back over an exercise ball. Bend at the knees and have your feet planted firmly on the ground about a hip-width distance apart. Bring your fingertips behind your ears.
- On an exhale, engage your core as you crunch up. Pause and then release back down. Repeat 12 – 15 reps for 3 sets.