Dynamic Abs Unique and Challenging Moves for Your Core

If you're tired of the same old crunches or other ab exercises, there's good news. There are a variety of dynamic, challenging exercises that will work all the muscles of your core.

This workout uses some great tools to add intensity to your core workout. A resistance band, an exercise ball, a medicine ball, and an optional kettlebell are great ways to change up your usual ab routine and make things more challenging and fun.

These are advanced exercises so you should be very comfortable using the suggested equipment. 


See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed

An exercise ball, a medicine ball, a kettlebell or weight, and a resistance band.

How To

  • Warm up with a few minutes of light cardio or do this exercise after a cardio workout when your muscles are warm.
  • Do the exercises as shown, keeping each move slow and controlled, for the suggested number of reps.
  • You can do all the exercises one after the other in a circuit format, repeating that 1-3 times or you can do 1-3 straight sets of each exercise before moving on to the next set. If you do that, rest about 10-30 seconds between sets.
  • Do this workout about 3 times a week with at least a day of rest in between.


Medicine Ball Diagonal Woodchop.
Ben Goldstein

Resistance band woodchops are a great exercise for working not just the core but the entire body. You can also do this move with a weighted med ball as shown.

  • Anchor a resistance band near the floor or you can simply stand on one end of the band.
  • Stand with your left side facing the anchor point.
  • Hold the handle with both hands - You may need to wrap the band around your hands to increase the tension.
  • Begin in a lunge position facing the anchor point, arms straight down.
  • Turn, pivoting on the feet and sweep the arms diagonally up to the other side.
  • Return to start and repeat for 12-16 reps before switching sides.
  • You can also do this move without the lunge and pivot. You would do the entire move with the legs anchored, originating the move from the torso.

Ball Pikes

Pike on Exercise Ball
razyph / Getty Images

With Ball Pikes, there are different versions depending on what you're comfortable doing. You should absolutely be comfortable using an exercise ball before trying this exercise.

  • Lie facedown with the ball under shins or ankles, body supported on hands like in a pushup.
  • Beginners - Bend the knees and roll the ball in towards the chest. Try to keep your back straight and contract the abs. Roll out and repeat.
  • Advanced - Keep the legs straight, contract the abs and pull the ball in a pike position until toes are on the ball. You should be in an upside down 'V' position.
  • Repeat for 12-16 reps.

Plank on the Ball With a Leg Lift

Woman balancing on exercise ball
LWA / Getty Images

By using a ball while doing a plank, you add instability which will challenge all the muscles of your core.

This is a very advanced move so make sure you're comfortable using an exercise ball.

  • Get into a plank position with the lower legs resting on the ball.
  • For a harder version, position the ball under your toes. For an easier version, position the ball under your shins.
  • Place the hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor.
  • Contract the abs to hold the body in a straight line from head to toe and lift the right leg off the ball a few inches.
  • Hold for a few seconds and lower.
  • Repeat on the left leg, alternating feet for 8-16 reps on each side.

Plank Jumps

Tone It Up

Plank jumps take a traditional plank and turns​ it into a dynamic core exercise with an element of cardio.

The key here is to jump the feet in as close to your hands as you can.

  • Get into a plank position with the hands directly under the shoulders, back flat, and core engaged.
  • From there, jump the feet forward, close to your hands.
  • Jump back to plank position and repeat for 12–16 reps.

You can also add a side-to-side challenge to work the oblique muscles as well. Instead of jumping directly behind the hands, you'll alternate jumping to the right and to the left. When you jump to the left, land in a squat with your feet behind your left hand. Jump back to plank position. and then jump to the right, alternating sides for 12-16 reps.

Kettlebell Windmills

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This Kettlebell Windmill involves using a kettlebell, but you can easily hold a dumbbell or no weight at all.

This move is all about working your obliques as well as your other core muscles.

  • Hold a weight or kettlebell in the right hand.
  • Turn the right toes out and the left toes forward, almost like you're standing on a surfboard.
  • Take the left arm straight up and lean to the right, bending the right knee as you lower the weight towards the floor. 
  • You should go directly to the side without rounding through the back.
  • Look up at your left hand for more of a challenge.
  • Straighten back to the starting position and repeat for 12-16 reps on each side.

Oblique Arm Sweep

This move is perfect for the obliques, the muscles on either side of your waist.

The key to this move is to keep your back straight and only go back as far as you can.

  • Sit with legs bent, back straight, arms extended straight out in front of you.
  • Lean back to a point where you feel your abs contract, but avoid arching or straining the back.
  • Contract the abs and sweep right arm down and behind you in a half-circle motion, leaning the torso back a few inches.
  • Sit all the way back up and repeat on other side.
  • Complete 12-16 reps on each side.

Med Ball Knee Drops

With this version of knee drops, holding a medicine ball between the knees adds intensity to this exercise, forcing the core to work very hard to protect your back.

If you're new to this move, start with no weight or a very light med ball.

  1. Lie on the floor with knees pulled in over the chest.
  2. Place a ball between knees and stretch your arms out to the sides like an airplane, palms facing up.
  3. Contract the abs and rotate the hips to the right, bringing knees towards the floor.
  4. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor and only go as far as you can.
  5. Don't touch the floor, but use the abs to bring knees back to start.
  6. Pause and then do the exercise on the other side.
  7. Repeat for 12-16 reps.

Side Plank With Leg Lifts

Woman doing side plank

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This side plank becomes even more intense when you add a leg lift. Your core has to work overtime to keep your body stable.

There can be a lot of stress on the hand and foot on this one, so you may want to do the move on your forearm or use a folded up towel for support.

  • Begin in a side plank, balancing the left hand and the outside of the left foot.
  • For an easier version, keep your feet staggered. For a harder version, stack the feet.
  • Lift the other arm straight up and hold that position.
  • Lift and lower the right leg just a few inches
  • Complete 8-16 reps and switch sides.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."