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17 Best Ab Exercises for Visible Results

Sculpt strong, visible abs with these recommended exercises from fitness pros.

If a top fitness priority of yours is to lose belly fat and reveal strong, sculpted abs, then you've come to the right place. We've cherry-picked some of the best expert-approved moves you can do at the gym or in the comfort of your own home to torch calories and achieve your workout goals in no time.

Building abs fast is a common goal. However, the best things in life take hard work and dedication. Killer abs require you to focus on doing the right things when it comes to eating and working out; it's important to reduce your calorie intake, consume a nutritious diet, and be loyal to strength training every week. The bulk of your training should be compound movements that engage your core.

Keep reading to learn our very best ab exercises for visible results. And when you're finished reading, be sure to check out 10 Best Exercises To Melt Lower Belly Fat.

Modified V Sit-ups

This first exercise is recommended by Matt Laurie, M.S, B.S, ACSM-Cpt, Precision Nutrition Lvl. 1. Laurie explains that a modified V-sit-up is an accessible exercise for many fitness enthusiasts.

To perform it, begin on your back. Your hands should be on the ground, and your feet should also be on the floor or in the air a few inches above the ground (which is the more challenging of the two). "Next, drive your upper half off the floor (with your arms assisting in the drive). Simultaneously bring [both] knees up and in toward the chest. Keeping the core braced and abs tight, hold the finish position briefly, and return to the floor with control. Your abdominals will start to burn after a few reps!"

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Stability Ball Crunches

stability ball crunch

In a world where many fitness fanatics strive for washboard abs and effective yet safe core isolation exercises, Laurie says you can't beat utilizing a stability ball. He adds, "Performing a concentrated abdominal crunch on a stability ball provides the lower back with a soft surface to press into as we crunch, forcing the core to stabilize so that you don't fall off the ball. Keep the shoulders back, the ball stable underneath you, and your core engaged, [and] bring your shoulders up toward the ceiling a few inches (or up to 45 degrees relative to the legs), then lower back to the starting position. This exercise is a sneaky-hard core move!"

Active Planks


By performing active planks consistently, you'll reap plenty of body benefits, including a strong core, a tight stomach, and the alleviation of lower back pain. If you're wondering the difference between the classic forearm plank and an active plank, Laurie reveals it's "a firm squeeze of your glutes." He continues, "Clenching your glutes while keeping your body stable in a plank rotates the pelvis and fires up the lower abs instantaneously. Start with sets of 30-second holds, and work your way up!"

Dead Bugs

dead bug

Anna Victoria, a certified trainer (NASM) and the creator of the Fit Body App, explains that dead bugs engage your transverse abdominis, which is also known as your "corset muscle."

Begin by lying flat on your back, keeping your arms reaching toward the ceiling, over your head. Bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle. Next, lower your left arm to the back of your head, and at the same time, extend your right leg as close to the floor as you can. Return to the floor position, and repeat the move with your other arm and leg.

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Side Plank Dips

side plank hip dip

This exercise will concentrate your inner core muscles and your obliques. First, rotate onto one side of your body. Use your forearm to support your weight. Keep your body in a straight line while keeping your core activated. Gradually lower or "dip" yourself to the floor, stopping just before your hip reaches the ground. Pull yourself back up using your core and obliques. Breathe in while you lower, and breathe out while you pull up.

Landmine Rotations

woman doing landmine rotation

Start this movement by putting a barbell inside a landmine attachment. (If you don't have one, just place it on the end of a sturdy surface.) Grip the end of the barbell with both hands, and hold it out in front of you with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight, rotate the bar toward one side of your body while pivoting both feet toward that direction. Leading your hips and shoulders, rotate the bar to the opposite side, maintaining tension in your core. Aim to complete eight to 10 reps per side.

Half-Kneeling Band Pallof Press

Wrap a resistance band around a sturdy beam or pole, and pull it out in front of you. Grip the band, and get into a half-kneeling position with your arms to your chest. The band should be opposite the knee that is in front of you. Brace your core, and begin pressing the band out in front of you, exhaling when you finish. Inhale, and pull the band back before performing another rep. Finish all reps on one side before switching to the other. Aim for eight reps per side.

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Hanging Knee Raises

illustration of hanging knee raises

Position yourself by hanging onto a pull-up bar. Tuck your pelvis and—without swinging—drive your knees toward your chest. Flex your lower abs at the top of the movement, then lower back to the starting position before performing another rep. Aim for 10 to 15 reps.

Suitcase Carry

Place a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell by your side. Keep your chest tall and your core tight and pick the weight up with one arm while maintaining a neutral spine. Brace your abs hard, and begin walking under control while trying to maintain a neutral spine while the weight is pulling you down to the side. Walk 50 to 100 feet, then switch hands on the way back.

Seated Medicine Ball Twists

Russian twist with medicine ball, concept of ab exercises for strong core

This exercise targets your obliques while also engaging your abdominals and lower back muscles. If you don't have a medicine ball, you can use a bottle of water (the bigger the bottle, the harder you make it for yourself).

When doing this exercise, try to keep your feet on the ground. This one is all about form, so keep your feet on the floor, lean back just enough to feel engagement in your abdominals, and make a nice full turn with your shoulders. Get ready to feel that core burn.

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Split Lunges with Bicep Curls

What are the top three areas that women want to tone? Legs, abs, and arms—and this exercise hits all three! Grab some 1-liter water bottles or a set of dumbbells, and get started.

Stand tall with a water bottle or dumbbell in each hand. Bring one foot forward, and descend into a split lunge. On your way back up, perform a single-arm bicep curl with the opposite arm.

Even though you aren't actively moving your abs, they play a huge role in keeping your spine upright during this exercise, so make sure you keep them engaged throughout the entire movement. This one makes your entire body tremble—so get ready.

Criss-Cross Flutter Kicks

This combo will give your abs that burn that feels oh-so-good. This one practically draws the lines right down the sides of your midsection as you are doing them. By keeping your back flat and your abdominals engaged, the motions of your legs will not only work your abs but also your inner and outer thighs.

Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms extended. Raise both legs off the floor, and alternate crossing one over the other. Make sure your lower back stays flat on the ground.

Kettlebell Goblet Squats

kettlebell goblet squat, concept of ab exercises for strong core

This exercise begins with you holding a kettlebell to your chest, maintaining a straight posture. Keep your core tight, then push your hips back and squat down to parallel. When you've hit parallel, drive through your hips and heels, as you flex your quads and glutes to finish. Aim to complete three to four sets of 10 reps.

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Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

Woman doing Dumbbell bent over row, concept of ab exercises for strong core

Position your feet shoulder-width distance apart, push your hips back, then bend your torso so you're bent forward at least 45 degrees. Tighten your core, and row both dumbbells toward your hips while squeezing your lats at the end. Straighten your arms fully before performing another rep. Complete three to four sets of 10 reps.

Landmine Shoulder Press

Place the barbell inside a landmine attachment. If you don't have access to a landmine, no worries. Stick a barbell to a corner of a wall to get the same effect. Get into a staggered stance with one foot forward and one foot back. Grab the bar while keeping your chest tall and core tight. Then, press it forward. Flex your tricep and shoulder hard at the top, then bring it back to the starting position. Perform all reps on one side before switching over. Complete three to four sets of eight reps with each arm.

Dumbbell Step-ups

man doing dumbbell step-ups, concept of ab exercises for strong core

Grab a set of dumbbells, and place your foot on a bench or sturdy surface. Be sure your chest stays tall and your core remains tight as you lean into the heel of your front leg and push off of it to step up. Flex your quad and glute at the top of the movement, then lower yourself under control before performing another rep. Complete three to four sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Hollow Hold Dumbbell Reaches

hollow hold with dumbbell, concept of ab exercises for strong core

Hold a single dumbbell, and assume a hollow hold position. Your feet should be above the ground and your lower back flat. Position the dumbbell slightly above your chest, then pull it back behind your head, and straighten out your arms fully. Flex your abs hard at the end of the movement, then bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William
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