20 Best Ab Exercises & Workouts, According to a CPT | BarBend (2024)

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  • Anatomy

You might not be a physique athlete chasing a six-pack, but even strength athletes need strong abs. A stable core will help you deadlift, squat, and bench press more weight. Like any other muscle in your body, you need to train your core for it to grow and get stronger. Of course, not all exercises are created equal.

The best ab exercises aren’t necessarily the frilliest. To help you sieve through all of the ab moves available, we’re diving deep into the benefits of ab training, how your core muscles function, and providing a list of the 20 best ab exercises.

20 Best Ab Exercises & Workouts, According to a CPT | BarBend (1)

Here, you’ll find ab exercises that target all of your major core muscles — that is, your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. With these moves, you’ll be able to support your body through even the toughest grinding lifts.

Meet the Experts

This article was originally written by Mike Dewar, CSCS, weightlifter and strength & conditioning coach who founded J2FIT. Alex Polish is BarBend’s Editor, a certified personal trainer (through the American Council on Exercise), and is certified in Kettlebell Athletics.

Jake Dickson, BarBend‘s Senior Writer, verified this article. Dickson holds a B.S. in Exercise Science, as well as a CPT-NASM certification and USAW-L2 weightlifting certification.

20 Best Ab Exercises

  1. Ab Rollout
  2. Weighted Plank
  3. Hollow Hold
  4. Pallof Press
  5. L-Sit
  6. Sit-Up
  7. Hanging Knee Raise
  8. Medicine Ball Slam
  9. Toes-to-Bar
  10. Weighted Stability Ball Crunch
  11. Suitcase Carry
  12. Trap Bar Figure-Eight Carry
  13. Side Plank
  14. Side Plank With Rotation
  15. Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot
  16. Dead Bug Pullover
  17. RKC Plank
  18. Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Cable Row
  19. Renegade Row
  20. Banded Plank Pull

Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.

1. Ab Rollout

As the name implies, the ab rollout has you grip a barbell (loaded with round plates), an ab roller, or an exercise ball to extend your torso toward the ground. Most stomach movements, such as crunches and knee raises, flex the abs. The ab rollout strengthens the core by lengthening it, which targets what’s known as eccentric strength.

Becoming strong in an extended position improves core stability and recruits muscle fibers that would otherwise be untouched. As a result, you’ll have a better-developed midsection.

How to Do It

  1. Kneel and grip a wheel or barbell, loaded with round plates, with your hands set shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your hips toward the floor and let your chest sink forward toward the ground. Avoid arching your lower back as you extend your arms above your head.
  3. Squeeze your lat muscles and pull yourself back to the starting position.

Coach’s Tip: The farther forward you roll out from your body, the harder the move will be. So shorten your range of motion if need be.

Sets and Reps: Perform two to four sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Equipment Needed: Ab wheel OR barbell, weight plates; exercise mat (for your knees)

2. Weighted Plank

The plank is a classic core move that involves holding the top of a push-up position — either on your hands or on your forearms — for time. The tension created by flexing the abs to keep your back straight is immense.

[Read More: 3 Ab Exercises That Will Actually Help Your Lifts]

The weighted plank is a more advanced variation that increases the difficulty by adding more downward force to the exercise. It also gives you more isometric strength, which helps keep the spine neutral during moves like squats, deadlifts, and snatches.

How to Do It

  1. Assume a plank position, with your hands or forearms on the floor.
  2. Align your hips and shoulders so that you’re as parallel to the floor as can be.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and quads, bearing down on your core from all sides.
  4. Have a spotter place a weight plate under your shoulder blades or, if it’s a relatively light one, position it behind you yourself. Press your arms, hard, into the floor and hold this position for time.

Coach’s Tip: Continue to breathe steadily and as deeply as you can throughout your isometric hold.

Sets and Reps: Start with a small weight plate and practice weighted holds until you can perform them for 60 seconds or more. Progress up in weight as needed, performing two to three sets of 30 to 90 seconds.

Equipment Needed: Weight plate; spotter (optional)

3. Hollow Hold

The hollow hold calls for you to balance on your butt, with your legs a few inches off the floor and your arms over your head. Extending your arms and legs away from your body (and the center of mass) decreases your stability so your abs must work harder to keep you upright.

This exercise builds isometric strength and anti-rotational strength, giving you practice at creating tension through your core — something you’ll need under a loaded barbell. Adding a rocking motion to it creates even more instability and therefore recruits more of the core. Master the hold first before trying the hollow rock.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on your back with arms extended overhead and legs pressed together.
  2. Lift your legs and upper torso off the floor.
  3. Hold this position.
  4. To perform the hollow rock, simply rock back and forth in this position, minimizing movement at the hip and shoulder joints.

Coach’s Tip: When doing a hollow rock, move under control. Avoid letting momentum do the work for you.

Sets and Reps: Perform two to four sets of 15 to 45-second hollow holds. When adding hollow rocks, perform three to five sets of 10 to 20 rocks back and forth.

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

4. Pallof Press

The Pallof press is as practical as a core exercise gets. You’ll use a cable machine or securely-anchored resistance band to move a weight away from your body while resisting the pull of rotation.

As a result, this move will increase your core stability, anti-rotational strength, and improve postural positioning. You’ll also develop more postural awareness, as you focus on keeping your spine neutral and chest up during the move. This improved posture will carry over to all lifts and everyday life.

How to Do It

  1. Loop a light band around a pole or power rack at chest level.
  2. Stand perpendicular to the band, grab it in both hands, and take a few steps sideways until the band is taut.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then extend your arms forward. Do not let your torso or hips twist.

Coach’s Tip: When selecting a weight, make sure it’s heavy enough to be challenging but not so heavy that you can’t keep your shoulders and hips level and stacked.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Cable machine OR power rack, resistance band

5. L-Sit

The L-sit is a popular gymnastic move that forces the core to stabilize the body as it’s suspended off the ground with the legs out in front. If you’ve never attempted these before, start slowly, and gradually your skills and strength will increase.

[Read More: 8 Lower Ab Exercises to Build a Six-Pack]

It requires balance, strength, and patience. This is an advanced move that will require a truly full-body effort, so it’s both a test of core strength and a move that will dramatically improve core strength.

How to Do It

  1. Sit between two dumbbells or kettlebells and place each hand on a handle.
  2. Drive your body off the floor and steadily extend your legs.
  3. Hold yourself up isometrically, keeping tension in the middle and upper back.

Coach’s Tip: To make the exercise easier, tuck your legs closer to your body. You can also tap your feet down to rest when you need to. To make the L-sit more difficult, raise your legs higher off of the ground.

Sets and Reps: Perform two to three sets to failure with at least a minute’s rest in between.

Equipment Needed: Dumbbells OR kettlebells

6. Sit-Up

You might have been neglecting full sit-ups in favor of crunches or bicycle crunches. And while there’s nothing wrong with those moves, the sit-up — as long as you’re performing it with your abs rather than hip flexors, shoulders, or neck — takes you through a very effective range of motion.

[Read More: The Best Bodybuilding Ab Workout for Your Experience Level]

You can easily pump out a lot of reps in the classic sit-up. This means you can accumulate lots of training volume. It also requires zero equipment with little to no spinal loading.

How to Do It

  1. Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands across your chest.
  2. Contract your abs to pull your torso up to your knees.
  3. Squeeze your core at the top and slowly descend back down.

Coach’s Tip: Truly contract your abs at the start of each rep. You want to avoid yanking up your neck or shoulders. Let your core, rather than your shoulders or neck, lead the movement.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 20 to 30 reps.

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

7. Hanging Knee Raise

Like the sit-up, the hanging knee raise is a beginner- and intermediate-friendly exercise that requires minimal equipment and is excellent for strengthening your core. It’s also very scalable — you can straighten your legs or hold a dumbbell between your knees to make the move harder.

As a bonus, hanging from a bar will seriously boost your grip strength which will help with exercises such as deadlifts, farmer’s carries, and pull-ups. Other benefits include more postural control over your torso and even better grip strength.

How to Do It

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with a slightly wider grip than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your shoulder blades back and down.
  3. Press your legs together and pull your knees up to chest height without using momentum.
  4. Unfurl and return to the starting position with slow control.

Coach’s Tip: To minimize swinging, maintain consistent tension in your core and upper back.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets to failure.

Equipment Needed: Pull-up bar

8. Medicine Ball Slam

The medicine ball slam is an explosive core exercise that builds core strength, power, and stamina all at once. This exercise has a wide array of applications and can be done in various ways from a myriad of positions.

[Read More: 3 Difficult Ab Challenges You Might Not be Able to Complete on First Attempt]

Generally, medicine ball slams are done before a workout, to prime the central nervous system pre-workout, or after a training session as a full-body workout finisher. But the benefits don’t end there — you’ll build dynamic core stability and power and improve your cardiovascular fitness as well.

How to Do It

  • Grab a rubber medicine ball, stand tall, and raise it overhead.
  • Maintaining a tight core, powerfully pull the ball and toes downwards.
  • Slam the ball into the floor.

Coach’s Tip: To generate extra power, rise onto your tiptoes as you bring the ball overhead before the slam.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Equipment Needed: Medicine ball

9. Toes-to-Bar

A favorite of many CrossFitters, the toes-to-bar is far and away one of the most advanced, explosive movements you can do to build your core. Instead of bringing your knees to chest level, this exercise has you — as the name implies — touch your toes to the bar.

To do so requires immense grip strength, core control, and core strength. Aside from strengthening the core, the toes-to-bar can improve grip and lat strength because you’ll be keeping yourself stably hanging from the bar throughout your sets.

How to Do It

  1. Grab a bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip, and press your legs together.
  2. Pull your body backward away from the bar as you pull your knees and ankles upwards towards the bar.
  3. As your toes meet the bar overhead, stay in line with your midline and lower the legs in the same path.

Coach’s Tip: With many core moves, you want to avoid momentum — but you can embrace momentum here. Just make sure you’re using your core to initiate the movement and control the descent.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets to failure.

Equipment Needed: Pull-up bar

10. Weighted Stability Ball Crunch

The stability ball crunch trains this ab flexion without a lot of lower back involvement — great news for isolating your abs. Performing crunches on a stability ball increases the activation of your core stabilizers, which can help provide greater resilience against injury. (1)

[Read More: The Easiest Ab Exercises You Can Do Right Now]

Adding weight further strengthens and builds muscle in your abs. The beauty of this exercise is that the difficulty can be easily turned up or down to prioritize strength or muscle growth.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on an exercise stability ball with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The ball should be directly under your hips and lower back.
  2. Hold a weight at your chest for an additional challenge.
  3. Crunch your torso forward until your mid-back comes off the ball.
  4. Hold briefly at the top before slowly returning to the starting position.

Coach’s Tip: Avoid cranking your neck or yanking upward with your shoulders. Focus on contracting your abdominal muscles to initiate the ascent and control the descent.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 25 to 30 reps.

Equipment Needed: Stability ball, weight plate

11. Suitcase Carry

The suitcase carry has all benefits of farmer’s carries, but this version reduces grip imbalances between your hands.

When performing this variation, your obliques must work hard to resist your torso flexing to one side, making the suitcase carry an excellent choice for training anti-flexion in the trunk — something you need to both develop a six-pack and pull a heavy deadlift.

How to Do It

  1. Select a weight that’s about 25 percent of your body weight.
  2. Pick up the weight, squeeze the handle, and make sure your shoulders are not tilting to one side or the other.
  3. Walk slowly in a straight line, putting one foot in front of the other. Your opposing arm can be kept at your side or held out for balance.

Coach’s Tip: Make sure your shoulders aren’t hiking up or down and that your torso isn’t leaning to one side or the other. Checking your posture in the mirror is helpful here.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 30 to 45-second carries per side.

Equipment Needed: Dumbbell* OR kettlebell OR barbell, weight plates

*Use an adjustable dumbbell if you want to quickly increase or decrease the weight you’re using between sets.

12. Trap Bar Figure-Eight Carry

Carries can take up a lot of space and some gyms don’t have room for you to carry heavy weights. This is where the trap bar figure-eight carry comes in.

Walking in a big “figure-eight” pattern allows you to get yards in a limited space, and the trap bar makes turns easier as it places less rotational torque on your lower back than dumbbells. With more loading potential than other carry variations, you’ll increase your grip, ab, and conditioning gains.

How to Do It

  1. Do a trap bar deadlift and stand tall to get into the starting position.
  2. Take slow and controlled steps in a figure-eight pattern and be deliberate and slow about your turns.
  3. Keep your chest up and shoulders locked back and down to maintain good posture.
  4. When you feel your grip failing, lower the weight back down to the floor under control.

Coach’s Tip: Take a moment to stabilize the weight after you stand up from your deadlift. This will set you up for success.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 30 to 45-second carries.

Equipment Needed: Trap bar, weight plates

13. Side Plank

Don’t be fooled by its popularity. The side plank is tough to pull off. If you need to customize this move to your strength or balance level, stack one foot in front of the other instead of putting your feet on top of each other.

20 Best Ab Exercises & Workouts, According to a CPT | BarBend (2)

This isometric exercise will train you to maintain your hip position under tension, which can translate into a much more stable core.

How to Do It

  1. Lean on your side and place one forearm or hand on the ground underneath the corresponding shoulder.
  2. Stack one foot on top of or in front of the other.
  3. Press your hips up toward the ceiling, maintaining a line between your shoulders and your hips as much as possible.
  4. Breathe slowly and deeply, holding the position for a set period. Switch sides and repeat.

Coach’s Tip: Avoid holding your breath and continually press your hips upward throughout the exercise.

Sets and Reps: Perform two to four sets of 20 to 45-second holds per side.

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

14. Side Plank With Rotation

Sometimes, you’ve just got to spice up your side plank — and with great benefits. Adding a rotational element makes the exercise more dynamic, increasing overall muscular recruitment. This dynamic aspect will challenge your balance even more, recruiting even more core stabilizer muscles to help keep you from tipping over.

How to Do It

  1. Set up in a side plank, forming a straight line from shoulder to foot.
  2. Extend your opposite arm up above your shoulder.
  3. Rotate your torso downward by reaching under your body, with your gaze following your hand. Repeat for reps.

Coach’s Tip: If necessary, stagger your feet with one foot slightly ahead of the other to form a more stable base.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

15. Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot

If you want to build ab strength, you’ll need to add instability to the mix. Ab exercises with balls are a great way to do this. The stability ball stir-the-pot accomplishes this and more. It trains anti-extension, glute strength, and anti-rotation while in a plank position.

The stability ball recruits more muscle units without an increase in load due to greater activation of the core muscles. (2) That means that you’ll be getting a lot more bang for your buck. On the whole, some research shows that plank variations on the stability ball engage more muscles to stay balanced as opposed to planks on the ground. (3)

How to Do It

  • Assume a plank position with your forearms resting on the stability ball.
  • Create semi-circles with your arms for reps in one direction.
  • Perform the same amount of reps in the opposite direction.

Coach’s Tip: Maintain a strong plank throughout this move. Do not allow your hips to sag.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Stability ball

16. Dead Bug Pullover

Pairing the dead bug — a move that creates core instability by having you simultaneously reach your opposite-side arm and leg — with a kettlebell makes for a fantastic ab builder.

The offset nature of the kettlebell combined with the dead bug movement places extra demand on your core, shoulders, and lats. The dead bug pullover lets you challenge your abs with progressive weight and time under tension.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on your back holding a kettlebell by the horns over your chest with arms extended.
  2. Lift your legs off of the ground and bend them at 90 degrees.
  3. Press your low back into the ground, taking a deep breath in before you start.
  4. Exhale while simultaneously extending one leg and lowering the kettlebell overhead until it gently touches the floor.
  5. Reverse the movement and then reset repeat with the other leg, making sure your lower back stays pressed into the ground.

Coach’s Tip: Press your lower back into the ground the entire time to maximize core activation.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 15 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell, yoga mat (optional)

17. RKC Plank

This is not your everyday front plank. The RKC plank looks the same as a regular plank, but with a few tweaks to create a swell of full-body tension. You’ll actively press your arms and hands into the floor, squeeze your quads, and pull your elbows and toes toward each other.

You should only be able to hold this plank for just 10 to 20 seconds when you’re performing it right. If you feel like you can go much longer than that, you’re probably not squeezing hard enough. Breathe deeply into your belly throughout the move.

How to Do It

  1. Start in a plank position on your elbows.
  2. Clench your fists hard and pull your shoulders down and back.
  3. Squeeze your quads to lock your knees and your glutes to lock your hips as hard as you can.
  4. Contract your whole body as if you were trying to compress yourself into a ball.
  5. Take deep, measured breaths, and use them as your rep count. Hit five to start.

Coach’s Tip: Don’t rush your breathing to get through the movement faster. If you can only hold the position for a couple of breaths, that’s okay. Build up from there instead of rushing.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of five to 10 slow, deep breaths.

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

18. Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Cable Row

Half-kneeling is an excellent tool for developing core strength. You’ll be balancing on one knee (and one foot in the back), making your core do a whole lot of work to stabilize your body.

[Read More: These Are 8 of the Best Lower Ab Exercises Out There, Seriously]

Although cable rows are typically considered a back exercise, this one warrants inclusion here because you’ll be performing it in a half-kneeling position. This move qualifies as a cable ab exercise because the balance challenge forces you to recruit your core stabilizers in a big way. You’ll have to resist rotation while preventing yourself from tipping over.

How to Do It

  1. Assume a half-kneeling position by placing one knee on the ground and one foot out in front of you with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Face a cable machine.
  2. Grab a D-handle and reestablish a neutral spine with your arm extended, allowing the cable to pull you forward slightly. Keep your shoulders and hips level, resisting that pull forward and sideways.
  3. Take a deep breath in. On the exhale, row the handle toward your body.
  4. Slowly return the handle to starting position. Repeat for reps evenly on both sides.

Coach’s Tip: Focus on stability from all angles. Avoid leaning forward or backward, but also make sure you’re not shifting from side to side.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Cable machine, D-handle

19. Renegade Row

Performing a renegade row properly often looks easier than it is. It will be tempting to hike your shoulders up and back, leaning up and over to your left if you’re performing a row with your right arm (and vice versa). But the name of the game here is stability.

20 Best Ab Exercises & Workouts, According to a CPT | BarBend (3)

Yes, the movement is dynamic in that you’re performing unilateral rows. But the only thing that should be moving is one arm at a time. Your shoulders and hips should stay level and squared throughout your movement. This makes the renegade row a spectacular challenge for your core.

How to Do It

  1. Assume a push-up position while holding a pair of dumbbells underneath your shoulders.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and quads, making sure your shoulders and hips are in alignment. Your hips should be neither sinking nor shooting up toward the sky.
  3. With control and without shifting your shoulders, row one dumbbell. Slowly lower it down.
  4. Reestablish your starting position. You can complete all your reps on one side at a time, or you can alternate.

Coach’s Tip: Push down into your non-moving hand for added stability while you row. This will also increase tension throughout your body, which is precisely what you want here.

Sets and Reps: Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Dumbbells

20. Banded Plank Pull

Planks can be difficult enough. Adding a banded pull to the mix makes your core work even harder. You’ll be challenging your abs to resist both extension and rotation as you fight to keep your hips level and your shoulders from rotating with each pull.

Make sure you choose a lighter resistance band while you’re getting the hang of this movement.

How to Do It

  1. Attach and secure a resistance band around a low anchor, such as the leg of a squat stand or power rack. The band should be secured around where your shoulder height is when you’re in a push-up position.
  2. Assume a high plank or push-up position on your hands in front of your anchor. You should be far enough away that when you pick up the resistance band, there’s some tension (but not maximal tension) provided by the band.
  3. Grab onto the end of the resistance band with your arm extended. Slowly row the band back toward your body, stopping when you reach your full range of motion.
  4. With control, let the band return to starting position. Repeat for reps evenly on both sides.

Coach’s Tip: Imagine putting your elbow into your back pocket as you row. Keep your shoulders tucked down and away from your ears.

Sets and Reps: Do three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps per side.

Equipment Needed: Squat rack OR power rack; resistance band

4 Ab Workouts to Incorporate

Stronger abs grant you a better ability to brace during heavy lifts. And for those who are trying to cut down, bigger ab muscles create that rigid blocky appearance most people covet. That said, here are four ab workouts for specific training goals.

Ab Workout for Muscle Mass

You’ll want to prioritize ab exercises with weights here, as adding external load is likely to help you hit failure faster. And the more often you approach true muscle failure, the more likely you are to stimulate some serious muscle growth.

Aiming for hypertrophy is not the time to mindlessly go through some crunches. Instead, think about moving slowly and with intention, moving the weight while concentrating on the contractions in your abdominal muscles.

You can perform this workout two to three times per week. Rest for about 30 to 45 seconds between sets.

Cable Crunch310-15
Hanging Knee Raise310-15
Dead Bug Pullover310-15
Weighted Stability Ball Crunch2to failure

Equipment Needed: Cable machine, pull-up bar

Ab Workout for Core Strength

To strengthen your abs with mostly isometric movements, you want to fully fatigue your ab muscles by reaching isometric failure within 30 seconds (either with your own body weight or with an external load).

You can also supplement your workouts with dynamic exercises, which will challenge your body’s ability to remain stable and neutral while in motion (as many exercises and everyday activities such as running and jumping demand).

Hollow Hold330
Toes-to-Bar3to failure
Side Plank345
Suitcase Carry2to failure per side
Weighted Plank330

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional), pull-up bar, dumbbells, weight plates, spotter (optional)

Ab Workout for Beginners

Although beginner core workouts might seem fairly straightforward, the burn that often sets in midway through a set — or the shaking during a plank — can be extremely intimidating. To find ab exercises for beginners, choose movements that you feel relatively comfortable with and use modifications when you need (for example, doing planks from your knees).

You want to be challenging yourself, sure, but leave enough room for plenty of enjoyment that you’ll want to come back again. Try resting for 45 seconds between sets, but extend that time if you need to.

Suitcase Carry330
Pallof Press310-15

Equipment Needed: Cable machine, D-handle, yoga mat (optional)

Bodyweight Ab Workout

This bodyweight ab workouts hit the core using isometric holds and high-repetition sets. Intensify the challenge by adding time or repetitions while squeezing as hard as possible. Perform this routine three times per week with 30 seconds of rest between movements.

Hollow Hold3to failure
Side Plank245
Sit-Up2to failure
Side Plank With Rotation310-15
RKC Plank4to failure

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat (optional)

Benefits of Training Your Abs

Forging a strong set of abs isn’t just about a six-pack — though that might be important to physique-oriented athletes. Building up strength in your abs is also a highly functional addition to any strength training or functional fitness program.

Boost Spinal Stability

Squats, presses, pulls, and other loaded movements all require spinal stability to prevent the athlete from experiencing a severe injury like a slipped disc or muscle tear. A strong core allows an athlete to stay rigid under immense pressure from loaded barbells.

Of course, strong abs cannot guarantee an injury-free training experience. However, the more spinal stability you have, the more resilient your body is likely to be against injury while you’re training under heavy loads.

Strengthen Barbell Lifts

Yes, deadlifts and squats alone will improve your core strength. But if you want to bring your compound lifts to the next level to hit your next one-rep max, a core-specific workout routine is non-negotiable.

[Read More: 6 Core Exercises That Will Improve Your Squat and Deadlift]

Athletes who want to heft heavy barbells have to develop strong abs. They will help you hold a strong, effective core brace and ensure that you’re transmitting force as efficiently as possible from your body through the barbell. That translates into more effective, heavier lifting.

Improve Functional Fitness

If you have a weak core, it’s going to be harder to go about your activities of daily living. Even going for walks requires your abs to be strong to help you maintain good posture and prevent unnecessary and potentially pain-inducing swaying.

[Read More: The 15 Best Upper Ab Exercises for a Stronger Core]

Whether you’re looking to play with your kids or carry an uneven load of groceries into the apartment, a strong set of abs will likely make these activities a whole lot easier.

What Muscles Make Up the Abs?

Your core contains multiple muscles, and understanding what they are and how they work is important in obtaining a stronger, better-looking midsection. Here’s a breakdown of the major core muscles.

  • Rectus Abdominis: The rectus abdominis runs vertically up the front of the torso and is responsible for spinal flexion. This muscle group is often the most targeted when people train their core, which is why many tend to focus on sit-ups and crunches.
  • Obliques (Internal and External): Your obliques run diagonally along the torso’s sides and are responsible for rotational force output and resisting rotational stress on the spine. Think Pallof presses, suitcase carries, side planks with rotations, and any other moves that emphasize either rotation or anti-rotation.
  • Transverse Abdominis: This is a deeper muscle group that helps to stabilize the core and spinal structures. You can target the transverse abdominis with planks, holds, and other total-body movements that require general postural control.

More Ab Training Tips

  • Core Training for Olympic Weightlifters and Fitness Athletes
  • Should You Train Your Core Daily?
  • The Best Bodybuilding Ab Workout for Your Experience Level


  1. S., Gaetz, M., Holzmann, M., & Twist, P European Journal of Sport Science Comparison (2013) EMG activity during stable and unstable push-up protocols. European Journal of Sport Science, 13(1), 42–48. Anderson, G.
  2. Silva FHO1, Arantes FJ1, Gregorio FC1, Santos FRA1, Fidale TM1, Bérzin F2, Bigaton DR2, Lizardo FB1 J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Jan;34(1):1-10. Comparison of the Electromyographic Activity of the Trunk and Rectus Femoris Muscles During Traditional Crunch and Exercise Using the 5-Minute Shaper Device.
  3. Vera-Garcia FJ1, Grenier SG, McGill SM.Phys Ther. 2000 Jun;80(6):564-9. Abdominal muscle response during curl-ups on both stable and labile surfaces

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Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.