The 17 Best Ab Exercises for Athletes

The 17 Best Ab Exercises for Athletes


Getty Images

Athletes need a strong core foundation for powerful movements and specific ab exercises are only a small piece of the program. In fact, the best ab exercises for athletes target the entire core, of which the abdominal muscles are a small proportion. The 'core' refers to the musculature that runs from the head to the pelvis and wraps from the front to the back of the body.

Another simple way to understand what is included in the core is that it consists of every muscle that makes up the torso. And even more simplified: the core is all the muscles except those of the extremities.

The purpose of a strong and stable core is to provide a solid base from which to initiate powerful movements. In fact, all physical movements begin from the core. An athlete can't run fast, throw a ball or swing a club if the arms and legs don't have a solid base of support to initiate the movement. So the core is the essential ingredient for all other major athletic movements.

Build an Effective Core Workout

Perform several (3 to 5) ab exercises 3 to 5 times a week. Start with exercises and repetitions that are comfortable for your fitness level and as you improve to increase the number of repetitions. You do not need to do all the exercises; simply select those that work well for you and vary your routine over the months.

Here are some of the most effective exercises for strengthening and firming the abdominal muscles as well as building core stability.​If you are looking for a great ab workout, combine the following exercises to create a balanced core workout routine. 

The Best Ab Exercises for Athletes

You can also follow the quick core workout.

Comprehensive Ab Training Routine

By combining some of the best core exercises one after another, you will get an effective core workout that is also great as a part of your warm-ups and cooldowns. Keep in mind that ab exercise alone isn't enough for an athlete. Combining these core exercises with sport-specific training will help you develop the endurance, skill, and coordination to excel at your sport while reducing fatigue and injury.

Finally, it's important to remember that building and keeping great abs and a strong core takes more than these exercises alone. It also takes proper nutrition and a well-rounded fitness routine that combines strength, balance, endurance, and power exercises. The best workouts are those that provide a well-rounded training routine, a high-quality diet, and plenty of rest and recovery.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.