Abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen — right? Not necessarily. While diet is important for uncovering your abs, you certainly don’t have to go to the gym to create them. There are tons of challenging moves that you can do in your living room, bedroom or backyard that require minimal equipment and produce maximum results.
MORE: A Case For Crunches?
This routine targets all of your trunk muscles using a Swiss ball, light dumbbells and a medicine ball. Repeat it every other day up to three times per week, leaving at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts to recover properly. Feel free to change the order of the moves or do more sets of one or another depending on which part of your abdominal region you’d like to target. In a few months you’ll be leaner, stronger and more cut. Start today!
Swiss Ball Jackknife
This is great for developing overall core strength, because it requires your deeper abdominal and back muscles to stabilize you on the ball.
Setup:Begin in a push-up position with your shins or feet on top of the Swiss ball and your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
Move:Keeping your upper body stationary, roll the ball forward by tucking your knees to your chest as far as you can go. Then slowly push the ball back out to the starting plank position.
Tip:Starting with the ball on your shins will make this exercise easier, whereas putting your tiptoes on the ball is more challenging.
Swiss Ball Oblique Crunch
Start option: You’ll get a better, fuller range of motion if you bend over the ball before you begin.
Setup:Place the Swiss ball under the curve of your waist on the left side and extend both legs, crossing the top leg in front. Stabilize yourself on the ball with your left arm.
Move: Extend your right arm over your head as you stretch the right obliques. Then contract them to crunch up to the side, bending your right elbow and bringing it down toward your hip. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: To make this move easier, drop your knee to the ground to stabilize the ball.
Medicine Ball V-Up
Combining upper- and lower-body actions will work the entire rectus abdominis.
Setup: Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended, holding the medicine ball overhead hovering just above the floor. Make sure you have a neutral spine (slight curve in the lower back) in the starting position.
Move:Simultaneously bring your arms and legs up together into a V, then hold your legs steady as you crunch up with your head, shoulders and upper back, reaching the ball toward your feet. Slowly return to the start and repeat.
Tip: Increase the challenge by bringing the whole trunk off the floor into a V-sit at the top of the move.
Medicine Ball Reverse Crunch
Reverse crunches effectively target your six-pack by eliminating the possibility of your neck muscles taking over.
Setup:Lie with your hips and knees flexed 90 degrees and place the medicine ball behind your knees. Use your hamstrings to squeeze it in place and extend your arms along your sides.
Move:Lower your legs slightly toward the ground until you feel your abs engage, then crunch them in and lift your hips up off the ground. Slowly unroll and repeat.
Tip:Instead of crunching your knees toward your face, try to push your hips toward the ceiling to eliminate the momentum from your hip flexors and activating your abs instead.
Your abdominals adapt to stress just like any other muscle, so a good way to make them pop is by adding resistance.
Setup:Lie with your hips flexed and feet pointing toward the ceiling, and hold a light set of dumbbells at your chest, palms facing inward.
Move: Lift your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor and punch one of the dumbbells up toward the opposite foot, twisting and “wringing” out your waist. Return to the center without resting your head on the ground, and continue, alternating sides.
Tip:For a greater challenge, separate your feet into a wide V so you have to twist farther when you crunch.
This move is an intense core strengthener on all sides — perfect for developing that perfect posture that will showcase your chiseled abs.
Setup:Lie with your legs extended and your feet a little wider than your shoulders. Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your arms straight up over your shoulders.
Move: Roll up through your trunk into a seated position while keeping your arms straight and the dumbbells reaching toward the ceiling; they should never deviate from perpendicular. Slowly reverse the move and return to the floor.
Tip:If you have any chronic low-back pain, only perform this move as a crunch — not a full sit-up — and maintain a neutral spine throughout.