The purpose of a solid core exercise or workout is to strengthen the tummy muscles, including the hip flexors, lower back, glutes and quads. Your core goes far beyond that ever-desired six-pack between the chest and the waist. It's time to get real and get functional with these 17 ab exercises that will tighten and tone any tummy! The important part is to respect your limits. Doing the exercises properly, with good alignment and placement, will make them much more effective. If something doesn't feel right, move on! You'll get there soon enough. Let's explore these waist-loving moves already!
1. Plank Tuck Twist: You can do this one with a stability ball or in a TRX. You'll come into a plank with your legs elevated and together. Using your core (not your back), roll the ball forward as you tuck the knees under the chest and twist them to one side. Extend and repeat on the other side. Notice how your hips will come up as you tuck and twist. That shows you're using your belly muscles! See more on it here.
2. Plank Lunge and Jump: Nothing like a little cardio to challenge your form and core strength. Begin in a high plank with your shoulders over the wrists. Bring one foot to the outside of the hands in a deep runner's lunge, then return it to your plank and repeat on the other side. After the second time you come to plank, jump both feet to the outside of the hands, letting the knees fall out to the sides. Then jump back to your original high plank. You'll feel that burn after the first rep! Check it out here.
3. V Slide: Get ready for a true tummy challenge. Get some sliders (paper plates for the carpet or wash cloths for the hardwood) and place your palms in the center. You'll slide out inso the arms create a "V" as the hips drop from the all-fours position to a nice diagonal line. Go as far as you can! Then pause; drop to the floor, slide the hands under the shoulders and perform a push up to return to the start. Get more details here.
>> WATCH the V-Slide: 7 Moves to Lift the Girls
4. Kettlebell Windmill: Kettlebell or dumbbell, you can work the obliques with this simple move. Stand wide and slide your hand down your leg as the other arm comes overhead, holding the weight, and reaches for the ceiling. Gaze at this arm and let your hips shift as you lower. Squeeze that top oblique to lift up again. Watch the video below or get more details here.
5. Boat Crunch: This can be a bit advanced, so give a shot resting on your elbows if needed. Otherwise, come into your modified boat pose with knees bent into a tabletop (90 degree-bend) and arms stretched out in front of you. Keep the spine straight. Lower the body down to the mat in a canoe — hover here. Pull that belly button in! Exhale and crunch up to boat. Check it here!
6. Three-Legged Dog to Knee Tuck: Bring some yoga into your day with this combination of a downward dog and knee tuck. The easiest way to gauge the proper distance for your downward dog is to begin in high plank. Lift the hips up until you're in downward dog, pushing through the heels and lift one leg. Shift your weight into the arms as you bend the knee and send it under your chest. Go ahead and round the back, pulling the navel up and in for a crunch. Learn more here.
7. Front Kicks: Now, wait a second, how can kicks help your core?! Great question. Of course, you'll work the butt and legs here, but the control and height of your kick depends largely on your core strength. Stand with feet under the hips, arms in. Lift one leg up and kick it out like you're pushing someone away with a flexed foot. Tuck the foot back in toward the butt before you put it down. Lean back to get the abs working a little harder. See it here.
8. Gliding Burpee: Oh, hey, it's a burpee, but not just any burpee. Pop those sliders under the feet, drop the hands to the floor, slide the feet out into a high plank with good control (do a pushup if you want, you crazy girl!), slide them back underneath you and jump up! Replace the feet and get going again. Don't let the hips sag on the plank. See it right here.
9. Fast Taps on BOSU: Again with the cardio! No BOSU? Try a step or curb. You'll softly bend the knees the entire time as you quickly switch feet. The faster you go, the more you'll need coordination and balance form your tummy muscles. Mindfully check in on your form as you fatigue, keeping it tight and controlled. See it here.
10. Pilates Sit-Up: Any time you can do Pilates, DO IT. This sit-up is designed for full body control and strength, tying the abdominals with the rest of your muscles and breathing. Sit down with your legs stretched out in front, completely straight, and arms reaching forward from the shoulders. Roll the vertebrae down slowly as you exhale, then inhale to stretch the arms overhead and exhale to lift. Make sure you sit up straight! Watch Skinny Mom founder Brooke Griffin demo the move below or see it here.
11. Turkish Get Up: This can also be a bit of a workout for your brain, so try it without the weight first. The important part is to keep your eyes on the bell at all times! Lie on your back and extend the arm above you from the shoulder. Use the other arm to push yourself up so you can rest on the elbow and at the same time, bend your knee. Push yourself up higher and finally into a lunge, then stand. Reverse, reverse! Get back to the floor where you started. Get more details on the move here.
12. Genie Abs: You wished for better abs and now you're getting them! Start by sitting down with your feet out in front of you, bend the knees and lift the legs to a lazy tabletop. Push that belly button into the spine and fold the arms across the chest. The movement is small: crunch the chest to the thighs and back, moving about three to four inches. See it here.
13. Hand Release Pushup: Here's a fun one! This will train your body to move as one. Start in a high plank with hands a little wider than your shoulders and feet together. Drop the entire body down to the floor for your pushup, release the hands from the floor and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Put the hands back the in same spots and push the entire body up – chest, tummy, hips, thighs all come up at the same time. No worm! Check it out here.
14. Starfish Abs: Instead of working on the core straight on, take a new angle. Lie on your back and use your mat to gauge the distance of your legs and arms, sending them to the corners. Lift the opposite arm and leg, trying to touch them together over the hips. You need to peel that shoulder blade off the floor. Check it out here.
15. Toe Touches: While you're on the floor, raise the legs over the hips and the arms over the shoulders. Squeeze the tummy as you lift the shoulders off the floor and reach for your toes. Press the lower back into the mat, slowly release and repeat. Get more details here.
16. Stability Ball V Pass: It's sharing time! Start with the ball in your hands as you lie on the mat, completely extended. Exhale and lift the torso completely like you would in a sit up, bringing the legs up, too. Grab the ball between the ankles and slowly release yourself to the floor. Pass it back and forth with control. Learn more here.
17. Crab Twist: This can be a tricky one to nail down, but you can do it! Start by sitting on the floor, then raise the hips up as you extend one leg out. Your arms should be straight under the shoulders. Lift the hand opposite to the extended leg and place it behind your head. Crunch them together, extend, crunch again, extend, and so on, then switch sides. Get more details here.