Most Effective Abs Exercises

We’re all for planking your way to a stronger core. And odds are you have a handful of go-to bodyweight abs exercises that you do on the mat when you’re cooling down.
But if you’ve ever wondered how you can work your abs with the equipment available at your gym, we’ve got you covered with 17 creative and effective ways to take your abs routine up a notch.

1. Hanging Leg Circles

How to:
  • Grip a pull-up bar with palms parallel, arms extended. (The bar should be high enough to hang from with legs extended, without feet touching the ground.)
  • Engaging core and keeping legs straight, draw a big circle in the air with feet.
  • Be sure to brace your abs tight so your body doesn’t swing back and forth.
  • Reverse the circle.
  • One circle in each direction equals 1 rep.
  • Do 8 to 10 reps.
Make it easier: Work up to the pull-up bar by doing the move in a captain’s chair first, which will provide more stability.



2. Hanging Bicycles

How to:
  • This one may look like you’re running in the air, but hey, it works.
  • Grip a pull-up bar with palms parallel, arms extended.
  • Engage core and pull knees up to a 90-degree angle, thighs parallel to the ground.
  • From here, pedal your flexed feet as if riding a bicycle.
  •  Repeat as quickly as possible while maintaining control for 30 seconds.

3. Hanging Side-to-Side Knees

How to:
  • Grip a pull-up bar. Engage core and lift knees toward the right side of torso, allowing legs to bend naturally.
  • Pull knees as close to right side of chest as possible, then slowly lower back to starting position.
  • Repeat by pulling knees to left side of chest.
  • Completing both the right and left sides counts as 1 rep.
  • Do 8 to 10 reps.

4. Cable Isometric Hold

How to:
  • Don’t let the cable machine intimidate you—it’s easier to use than you think.
  •  Stack on a light weight (start with 10 pounds or fewer) and position the carriage so it’s even with chest.
  • Stand next to machine, left side facing away from machine.
  •  Hold one cable handle with both hands, then take one big step away from the machine.
  • Extend both arms fully at chest-height, come into a comfortable half-squat, and hold the weight steady.
  • Engage abs to hold the handle straight in front of body—don’t twist body toward the machine.
  • Aim for perfect posture.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

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