5 Ab Exercises for a Strong and Defined Tummy

Before we dive into ab exercises, guess what—six-packs and chiseled abs aren’t all that.

There are, like, genetic one-percenters who can achieve a shredded core without any issues, but the rest of us? It may not be in our stars.

And that’s OKAY.

As thin as I am naturally, I’m not able to get lean enough for washboard abs. And frankly, I don’t really want them.

What I DO want is a strong core that can move, support, and stabilize my body like they were created to do!

Your core is the center of your being—it protects your organs, supports your upper and lower body, supports your back, etc. A lot of our total body strength comes from the core. You know how those talented yogis can do headstands and other inversions? Sure, they have good upper body strength from being upside down all the time, but the main theory to achieving those moves is core strength.

In my 8 Week Change Your Life Challenge, I provide clients with an 8-week workout regimen and calendar, 8 weeks worth of meal ideas and recipes, a video resource library of exercises, and more! The 5 core exercises below are some of my favorite ab exercises I pulled from the 8 Week Change Your Life Challenge so you can work your way to a tighter tummy!

Lying Leg Raises

This is my favorite ab exercise. It’s so effective for a strong core. It really targets the lower abs, too —great for that V shape and hard-to-define lower area!

  • Simply lay flat on your back, legs stretched out. Lift
  • Lift both legs at the same time off the floor until you form a 90-degree perpendicular angle.
  • Try not to let your back or shoulders lift off the ground.
  • Keep the core strong, and move with your core!
  • Do 4 sets of 25

Plank with Hip Dips

Another one of my favorites! Super easy to perform and you can do this anywhere!

  • Start in the standard plank position (picture #1)
  • Dip right hip to right side to almost touch mat (picture #2)
  • Back to center
  • Dip left hip to left side to almost touch mat
  • Alternate. 3 sets, 10 each side!

Hanging Leg Raises

In my opinion, this move is a little advanced and must be performed at a gym where you can use the arm attachments or a roman chair. This is similar to the lying leg raises, but you’re using your upper body and defying gravity a little more 😉 This is great for lower abs and the V shape, too.

  • Use hanging arm attachments or roman chair at a gym
  • Bring legs straight out or bent at knee to a 90-degree angle
  • Lower legs back to start
  • Repeat until failure

Bicycle Crunches

A classic ab exercise! One of my favorites. It may look and sound easy, but it’s important to really use your core and be mindful of how you’re moving through the exercise. A lot of times people will use momentum and try to “cycle” as fast as they can and strain their next at the same time. Use your abs to move through the motion, tap your elbow to the opposite knee, and don’t forget to breathe—exhale as you crunch.

  • Lay on back, hands behind head
  • Bring right elbow to touch left knee (picture #1)
  • Bring left elbow to touch right knee (picture #2)
  • Alternate sides. Do 15-20 each side.

Toe Taps

This is a great overall core move, and it requires a bit of balance! You can perform this exercise with no weights, a medicine ball, a dumbbell, etc. Start out with no weights if you’re just getting started, and slowly add more weight as you become stronger over time!

  • Lay on back and bring legs up to 45-degree angle
  • Use core to lift upper body up, and touch fingertips to toes
  • Go back to start
  • Repeat until failure

photo by mcmbrownfield.com // IG @mcmbrownfield

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  1. Kendra
    September 7, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    Ab exercises? I was hoping I’d get a defined tummy by just reading your post….instead you give me all these great moves to try! Tomorrow’s workout is all set!

  2. September 7, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    Great post Liz! I love core work (by love, I mean love/hate) – these are all fantastic to build strength!

  3. Jason
    September 11, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    Impressive. My core is…well…I won’t go there. But someone once told me I look like 200 pounds of chewed bubble gum. Sheesh. I guess I better get to crunchin’ !

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