Best Exercises for Abs: 3 Quick Workouts

A man performing ab crunches

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Building and toning your ab muscles is a lot easier when you know the best exercises for abs. This guide covers a few easy ways you can strengthen your core. In fact, one method includes a workout that only takes five minutes and requires zero equipment! 

Strengthening your abs requires more effort than building arm and leg muscles because we simply don’t use our abs as much. So, getting a ripped midsection is really all about giving those ab muscles a little extra attention. This guide to the best exercises for abs will help you get started, even if you don’t have an expensive gym membership or special protein powder. 

Best Exercises for Abs With ZERO Equipment

Circuit training is one of the absolute easiest ways to build ab muscles. The fantastic thing about this type of workout is that it requires no special equipment. You can do these exercises in your living room or backyard, completely for free. 

That might sound too good to be true. However, expensive weight lifting equipment isn’t as necessary for strengthening your abs as it is for arm and leg muscles. Many of the best exercises for abs are simple movements that utilize body weight, like push ups or crunches. 

The workout set below takes only five to ten minutes and requires no equipment. It includes some of the best exercises for abs that are also easy for beginners. Before you get started, though, remember to listen to your body. Some ab exercises can strain back muscles or worsen symptoms from pre-existing conditions. 

So, pay attention to any pain or unusual movement in your muscles and don’t be afraid to take a break. With that in mind, this short workout is safe for most people to do once every day. If you are unfamiliar with any of these exercises, make sure to watch a tutorial first and practice safe form. You can adjust the times for any of these exercises as your core gets stronger. 

  1. Stretch briefly – 1 minute
  2. Plank – 30 seconds
  3. Left and right side planks – 30 seconds each side
  4. Heel touches – 30 seconds
  5. Leg lifts – 30 seconds
  6. Russian twists – 30 seconds
  7. Crunches – 30, or as many as you can do in 30 seconds
  8. Hollow holds – 30 seconds 
  9. V-ups – 30 seconds
  10. Side jack-knives – 30 seconds each side

An Easy 20-Minute Full Upper Body Workout

Many of the best exercises for abs can also benefit the rest of your upper body. If you want to build muscle in your arms and shoulders, as well, you can easily work your abs into that set. This quick 20 minute routine will work your whole upper body, including your abs. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for an easy, well-rounded workout. 

This routine requires some equipment that many people don’t have at home. So, it will probably be helpful to go to a gym for this one. Of course, you can always skip the exercises that use equipment you don’t have and replace them with something else. 

Similarly, if you’re new to weight training, don’t be nervous about your first trip to the gym! Every gym rat was a beginner once. Just know when to let your body rest, focus on your own routine and be polite to everyone else using the gym equipment. 

  1. Stretch briefly – 1 minute
  2. Cable woodchop – 10 to 15 each side (set cable machine to highest setting)
  3. Pull ups – 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps
  4. Barbell rollouts – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps
  5. Bicep curls – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side, dumbbell weight of your choice
  6. Dumbbell row – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side
  7. Overhead dumbbell press – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side
  8. Side-plank cable row – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps each side
  9. Weighted sit ups – 3 sets of 10 reps, using weight plate of your choice
  10. Weighted straight leg sit ups – 3 sets of 10, using barbell
best exercises for abs

The Two-Weight Ab Routine

You don’t need a gym membership to get toned abs. Weights can be helpful for bulking up your midsection, though. This easy ab routine uses only two weights, a pair of dumbbells. You can choose any dumbbell weight you want, but it may be a good idea to test out a few different weights at a public gym first. This routine should push you, but too much weight could lead to an injury. 

The two-weight ab routine works a lot like the zero equipment workout above. You can do it at home, at the park or anywhere that’s convenient for you. This routine is also a great step up from the zero equipment routine if you’ve built some core strength already. 

  1. Weighted Russian twist – 30 seconds
  2. Weighted plank rotations – 30 seconds
  3. Weighted jab cross sit-up – 30 seconds
  4. Dumbbell dead bugs – 30 seconds
  5. Overhead dumbbell press – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side
  6. Low-to-high dumbbell chop – 3 sets of 10 reps each side
  7. Dumbbell renegade row – 3 sets of 10 reps, alternating sides each rep
  8. Dumbbell woodchop – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side
  9. Plank dumbbell pull through – 3 sets of 10 reps, using only ONE dumbbell
  10. Dumbbell crunch – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps, using only ONE dumbbell

Try Out the Best Exercises for Abs

This guide covers three different beginner-friendly workout routines to walk you through the best exercises for abs. Working out your core can be trickier than your arms and legs. It’s straightforward when you know which exercises will help you focus on strengthening your midsection. 

Whichever workout routine you choose, remember to stick to it for at least a few months to give yourself time to see results. Feel free to customize your routine, too – working out should be fun and refreshing!

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