I’m not one to toot my own horn, but with increasing frequency I find myself being asked about the exercises I’ve done to get toned 6-pack abs. It wasn’t an achievement by design, but a by-product of effective core-strength training.
In this post you’ll find my top 5 ab-shredding, core-strengthening exercises including progressions and modifications to match your level of capability.
Best of all, these exercises require no weights or equipment. Whether you're at the home, at the park, at the beach or at the gym you can have a great core session with these workouts.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from a pull-up bar with both arms extended and an overhand (palms facing forward), medium or wide grip. Your legs should be extended and pointing downward when in starting position.
Raise your knees towards your chest slowly and deliberately to avoid swinging. At the top of the cycle, drop your legs to return to the starting position. Repeat this movement for at least 15-20 repetitions or until exhaustion.
The set up and starting position is the same as that for the tucked hanging leg raise. In this case, however, you'll keep your legs extended raising them to form a 90-degree angle with your torso. When lowering your legs, be sure to maintain controlled movement.
To perform a full hanging leg raise, take up the starting position. Raise your fully extended legs toward until your toes touch the bar. Lower your legs while maintaining body control to return to the starting position.
Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Pull your knees towards your chest while leaning back. When in the correct position, your back should be parallel with the ground and arms fully extended.
Maintain the tucked position for as long as possible. Your effort should be focused on having a straight back and staying parallel to the ground as much as possible.
As you gain strength, attempt to move and hold your knees away from your chest until you can form a 90-degree angle between your thighs and torso (your knees remain bent).
From the tucked position, fully extend one leg and hold the position. Alternate legs, pulling one in and pushing the other out with slow, controlled movement.
From the tucked position, gradually extend both legs all the way out until your body is parallel to the ground. Hold this position.
Get into the start position by sitting with your legs tucked toward your chest and your palms gently pressed against the floor next to your hips.
Cross your legs and straighten your back. Press your palms firmly into the floor and contract your abdominal muscles while shifting your bodyweight onto your arms in order to lift your legs and buttocks then hold.
Raise your legs and buttocks off the ground with your knees tucked toward your chest. Hold this position.
As you gain strength, begin fully extending one leg at a time to increase intensity.
Raise your legs and buttocks off the ground with your knees tucked toward your chest. Gradually extend both legs and hold.
Spread your legs to add intensity.
Crane Pose (Bakasana)
Stand up straight then reach down to place your palms on the floor either side of your feet—you can bend your knees if necessary. Rest your knees against your triceps near to the armpit region.
From the start position, tilt forward slowly to shift your bodyweight onto your arms at the point of contact with your knees. As you tilt forward, raise your feet off the floor.
This movement requires careful balance so raise one foot off the floor at a time, if necessary, until you can lift both feet simultaneously.
Crouch and twist placing your opposite elbow to opposite knee (.i.e. right knee to left elbow or left elbow to right knee). Carefully lean forward to raise your feet of the floor.
Get into the crane pose and hold.
Carefully extend one leg at a time. This will require that you tilt further forward to counter-balance the weight of the extended leg.
Crouch with your palms on the floor either side of your body.
Lean forward while contracting your abdominal muscles and raising your feet off the floor. Tuck your thighs toward your chest and hold.
You should aim to get your back parallel to the floor.
From the tucked planche position, work toward fully extending one leg at a time, then fully extending both legs simultaneously.
Throughout these progressions you should use your upper-body weight to counterbalance the weight of the lower-body.