These go-to exercises are seriously challenging—and seriously awesome.
Get ready to revamp your abs strengthening routine. We asked six trainers to share their ultimate move for creating a flat and strong core, and they definitely delivered. Check out their go-to exercises—from dead bugs to body saws—so you can tone your belly without a single crunch. Seriously.
Why This Move Is Awesome: The major perk is that it targets your absand prevents “cheating” by keeping your lower back in a neutral position. The key to this move: taking it slow. “Ideally, you should focus on exhaling all of your air out as you lower your arms and legs,” says Gentilcore. You should also make sure you keep your lower back flat against the floor the entire time.
How to Do It: Lie faceup on the floor with you arms at your sides. Raise you legs off the floor so that your hips and knees are bent 90 degrees (A).Brace your abs and bring your left knee toward your chest a few inches and your right knee away from your chest a few inches. At the same time, raise your left hand up and over your head (B). Bring your right knee toward your chest and your left knee away from your chest, as you raise your right arm overhead and lower your left arm back down to your side (C). That’s one rep.
One-Arm Dumbbell Carry
Why This Move Is Awesome: This exercise makes you work harder to stabilize your core because of the uneven load you’re carrying. (Plus, in addition to activating your core, it gets your whole body involved, especially your shoulders and hips.) To get the maximum benefits from this move, focus on keeping your ribs pulled down, clenching your glutes, and keeping your toes pointed forward.
How to Do It: Grab a dumbbell and hold it like a suitcase, keeping your shoulders square and upright (A). Maintain that posture as you walk with the dumbbell at your side (B). One step is one rep. Put the dumbbell down, pick it up with your other hand, and walk back (C), again counting one step as one rep.
Swiss Ball Body Saw
Why This Move Is Awesome: When it comes to creating a flat stomach, this move does double duty, says Romaniello. He says that planking forces your body to stabilize by working against gravity, which activates the deep abdominal muscles (a.k.a. the transverse abdominis). And the back and forth movement of this exercise adds another element to engage your core muscles. While performing the Swiss ball body saw, be sure to use your forearms to support your upper back, and don’t let your chest sag towards the ground, says Romaniello.
How to Do It: Assume a pushup position, but place your elbows and forearms on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles (A). Squeeze your abs and glutes as tight as you can, then move your forearms forward and backward just a few inches in a sawing motion (B). That’s one rep.
Med Ball Side Slams
Why This Move Is Awesome: This total-body exercise torches tons of calories, says Cosgrove, which will help reveal your toned tummy. Cosgrove says it’s important to concentrate on keeping your abs engaged and your core as stable as possible throughout the entire movement.
How to Do It: Grab a medicine ball and hold it above your head. Your arms should be slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart (A).Forcefully slam the ball toward the outside of your left foot as hard as you can. Pick the ball up and repeat, this time slamming toward the outside of your right foot (B). That’s one rep.
Overhead Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Why This Move Is Awesome: While a lunge might not automatically come to mind when you’re trying to target your abs, Borden says that holding weights above your head instantly activates your core. While performing this move, focus on pushing the weights above your head “to the sky” to make sure you’re engaging your core the whole time, she says.
How to Do It: Hold a pair of dumbbells directly over your shoulders, with your arms completely straight (A). Step backward with your left leg into a lunge (B). Repeat with your right leg. That’s one rep.
Swiss-Ball Roll Out
Why This Move Is Awesome: Boyle says he loves this abs stabilizing move because it trains your core to be flatter by keeping your abs contracted and saves your back from injuries that can occur from the repeated motion of crunches. Throughout the movement, keep you glutes and abs tight, says Boyle.
How to Do It: Sit on your knees in front of a Swiss ball and place your forearms and fists on the ball (A). Slowly roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without allowing your lower back to collapse.
PUBLISHED: JULY 15, 2014 | BY ASHLEY OERMAN
Use your abdominal muscles to pull the ball back to your knees (B). That’s one rep.