Heather Black, CPT is a NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Heather Black Fitness & Nutrition where she offers remote and in-person training and nutrition coaching.
Ab workouts help increase core or abdominal strength, which leads to better balance and stability. Many ab workouts can be done at home and with minimal or no equipment. Ab workouts are also a staple in Pilates classes.
When building your workout routine, make sure to include some ab workouts. Ab exercises can help you build a strong core, improve posture, and reduce back pain.
Performing ab exercises engages key muscles in the abdomen and helps you to strengthen your core. Examples include crunches, bicycle twists, planks, and mountain climbers.
There are many effective exercises that target the abs. Some examples include captain’s chair leg raises, ball crunches, vertical leg crunches, reverse crunches, and planks.
A strong core is important because it stabilizes the whole body. The benefits of building a strong core include improved balance, overall functionality, and stability.
You should do ab workouts 2-3 times per week. Don’t overwork yourself by doing ab exercises daily.
To do ab workouts while pregnant, make sure to get your health care provider's approval. It’s usually safe to work out the abs during pregnancy, but you’ll likely have to make some modifications to each exercise to perform them safely and effectively.
It may seem like there is a difference between lower abs and upper abs, but there’s not. Your abdominal muscles are a group of muscles in the stomach area. There is usually less body fat in the upper region of the stomach, so the upper part of the abs may show through more easily. For this reason, some people feel the need to exercise their lower abs more often since they don’t show as easily.
The transverse abdominis, also known as the TVA, is a muscle located on the inside of the obliques. It’s the deepest part of the abdominal muscles and is the muscle you contract when you brace yourself for a punch. Its role is to protect the nearby organs and support the torso, spine, and pelvis.
Core is another way of referring to the abdominal muscles. They’re sometimes called the core because the stomach is located in the center of the body. The word “core” also signifies the root or foundation of something, and these muscles make up the foundation of balance and stability.
Core strength helps improve stability, which is a degree of being stable. Having good stability helps you to balance and prevents you from falling over or stumbling.
Planks are classic ab workouts. You can perform a plank by getting on the floor on your toes and hands. Beginners may find it easier to modify planks by getting on your forearms and/or knees instead. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds to engage your core.
Obliques are abdominal muscles located on the sides of your stomach. Some ab exercises that target the obliques include bird dog, heel taps, side planks, and bicycle crunches.
Crunches are a go-to ab workout. They are a tried-and-true exercise that is easy to do and beginner-friendly. There are different variations of crunches, but they are always performed while lying on your back. To perform a basic crunch, bend your knees and place your hands behind your head. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders and head off the ground.
A v-sit is an ab workout that is performed on the ground. Start in a seated position and lift your extended legs to create a 45-degree angle with your torso. This also creates a V shape, hence the name. Like planks, hold the position to work the abs.
Frizziero A, Pellizzon G, Vittadini F, Bigliardi D, Costantino C. Efficacy of core stability in non-specific chronic low back pain. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2021;6(2):37. doi:0.3390/jfmk6020037
Hsu SL, Oda H, Shirahata S, Watanabe M, Sasaki M. Effects of core strength training on core stability. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(8):1014-1018. doi:10.1589/2Fjpts.30.1014
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