Just about every client I've ever had came to me with the larger goal of losing fat and getting a flatter stomach. I'll tell you the same thing that I tell them: In order to get stronger—and more visible—abs, you need to be focusing on the right behaviors: strength training regularly, getting in plenty of daily steps and cardio, and eating at a calorie deficit. In the case of the latter, it's a crucial and unavoidable truth that can do ab exercises forever, but until you get your body fat down, you won't be able to see your abs.
That being said, when you're in the gym, it's important that you incorporate the right ab exercises that will strengthen your core to make them show more once you're leaner. I'm not talking about sit-ups and side bends here. After all, far too many people tend to default to traditional ab exercises—the type that don't strengthen their core or challenge them with different movement patterns. No, I'm talking about exercises that target your abs and make them work a whole lot harder from every conceivable angle.
Now, if you're bored of what you're currently doing and want to spice up your routine, I've written here what I consider the best abs workout for anyone who wants stronger abs and a better core. If you're leaning up and you'd like a rippled stomach? It works for that, too. Depending on your core strength, you can perform the following ab workout either one exercise at a time—or back to back in a superset. So read on, and for more great exercise advice, don't miss the Secret Side Effects of Lifting Weights for the First Time, Says Science.
Double Dumbbell Crunch (3 sets, 15 reps each)
Laying flat on your back with your knees bent, a pair of dumbbells with your arms fully extended. Begin crunching up, coming up only high enough to flex your abs hard. Exhale as you complete the rep at the top, before lowering back down to starting position. And for more great exercises you can do, see these 5-Minute Exercises for a Flatter Stomach Fast.
V-Twist (3 sets, 10 reps each side)
Get into position by laying flat on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees. Keeping your core tight, curl up and reach to one side while extending your legs out at the same time. Crunch hard at the top, return to starting position, then crunch up on the other.
Figure 8s (3 sets, 5 reps)
Begin by leaning back with your feet fully extended. Lift it off a few inches off the ground, begin drawing a figure 8 (or infinity sign) with your legs, criss-crossing while maintaining tension in your core. Once you've completed one loop around and drew out an 8, that is one rep. You can continue drawing in the same direction or go in reverse for the next rep.
Leg Lifts + Dumbbell Pullover (3 sets, 8 reps)
Start by laying on your back holding a single dumbbell in front of you with your legs fully extended. Keeping your core tight, lower your legs down to about an inch off the ground. Lift the legs back up to you, then pull the dumbbell behind your head until it touches the ground. Use your core and lats to bring it back to starting position before performing another leg lift. And for some exercises to avoid—especially as you get older—don't miss this list of The Worst Exercises You Can Do After 60.