13 Exercises for Your Abs That Will Give You the Look You Crave ...

Life can be really hard on the old stomach, so exercises for your abs are an important part of any workout routine. If you’re like most women, you want a flat, firm stomach, but kids, lack of time to exercise and that extra slice of chocolate cake aren’t doing you any favors. Despite this, it’s still possible to get the abs you crave. Be sure to do at least one set of 12 reps of each abs exercise at least twice per week, with a day of rest between. Mix and match these exercises for your abs to create a routine you’ll look forward to.

1. Crunches

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Ah crunches. Perhaps the most well known of the exercises for your abs are crunches. Here’s where I trot out my expertise for a moment. Crunches are great for your stomach muscles, but you must mix them with other moves to get the most benefits. To do a crunch, lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Slowly lower your upper body toward your knees, keeping your back and neck straight. Lower to the starting position to finish one crunch.

2. Trunk Rotations

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Rotating your torso is an ideal way to whittle the muscles on your waist, giving you a nipped in look that creates a fabulous silhouette. To do the move, sit on the floor, with your heels on the ground and knees slightly bent. Hold a kettlebell or medicine ball in both hands at about chest level. Rotate your body to the right, back to the middle, then to the left and back. You’ll be able to feel this one, for sure!

3. Planks

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Planks are so easy to do. I love to see how long I can go while I watch television. Challenge yourself to beat your last time and you’ll start seeing more defined abs in no time! Rest your body on your forearms and toes, legs extended and elbows at shoulder level. You’ll look almost like you’re getting ready to do a pushup. Simply hold the plank for at least 30 seconds at a time.

4. Stability Ball Sit

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Yes, you can get great abs just by sitting. But, it must be on a stability ball. Anytime you must rely on your balance to keep from falling, you’re engaging your ab muscles. So, sit on a stability ball while you work or color with the kids. You can also use a stability ball as a substitute for a weight bench as you do flyes and chest presses. The extra balance you need to keep from toppling to the floor does miracles on your abs.

5. Squats

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No, squats aren’t just good for your legs. As you lower and raise your body, you’re working your stomach muscles too. To do the move, stand with your feet about hip width apart and lower your body down as if you’re sitting in a chair, but stop when your knees get to a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for a second or two, then return to the starting position to finish one squat.

6. Inchworms

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Inchworms are so fun, you won’t even feel like you’re working out. Stand with your feet a couple of inches apart and bend at the waist, placing your hands on the floor a few feet in front of you. Walk your hands out until you’re in a pushup position. Then walk your legs forward until you’re back in the starting position. There, one rep finished!

7. Single Leg Stand

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This moves requires balance, which is why it’s great for your abs. To do a single leg stand, simply stand with your feet about hip width apart and your hands resting at your sides. Raise one knee toward your chest and hold the position for 15 seconds, then repeat the move on the other leg.

8. Windshield Wiper

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If you are determined to work hard on your core until it turns into abs of steel, it is time to implement windshield wiper leg motion into your exercise routine! In order to begin just lie down on your back, place your legs into a tabletop position at a 90 degrees angle and extend your arms at your sides. Then begin sliding your legs from left to right and right to left as windshield wipers often do, while keeping your back pressed against the mat.

9. Bicycle Crunches

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One of the most effective ab exercises is actually bicycle crunch. It truly engages your upper, lower abs and oblique muscles in a single set of motions. In order to do proper bicycle crunches, you have to first lie on the floor and press your back to the ground. Place your hands behind your head, bring your knees to your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Now to get to the good stuff, you have to straighten your right leg out while brining your left leg in, turning your body to the left and touching your right elbow with the left knee. You then alternate and repeat the exercise for best results.

10. Side Plank

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While the traditional plank is sufficient enough for a great ab workout, the side plank is a little more challenging and therefore more strengthening. In order to stay stabilized you must use your whole core to keep balance of your whole body. In order to complete a side plank, first position yourself on your left side with your elbow beneath your shoulder and legs stacked on top of each other. Place your right hand on your hip, lift your whole body off the floor and form a diagonal line by balancing yourself. Hold this position with tummy tucked in for about 30-50 seconds and add on more time as it becomes less challenging.

11. Roll Ups

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If you feel like your lower abs could use a little bit of toning, this roll up exercise will help you get rid of your own body rolls in places where they shouldn't be. Just lie on your back, extend your arms above you and stretch your legs together. As you inhale, bring your upper body off the floor with slow and controlled motions so that your fingertips touch your toes. Repeat this move 12 times and feel the burn!

12. Mountain Climber

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Mountain climber doesn't just exercise your abs but also engages your upper arm muscles, back and legs. To start off with mountain climber get ready into the push up position. Make sure that your body is in line and straight. To begin the exercise bend your right leg to your chest, straighten it back into the starting position and repeat the same thing with your left leg. Pick up the tempo as you go and make sure that your hips don't sag!

13. Running

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As much as you try to target your ab area, it is hard to specifically tone your tummy without working out your whole body. Therefore in order to achieve the best and quickest results, add in a cardio workout to really melt that extra fat tissue off your body! Running does wonders in strengthening your core, sculpting your legs, burning fat and building muscle!

These exercises are ideal for toning and defining your middle, but they won’t blast the flab off your belly like cardio will. Combine these moves with exercises that get your heart rate going to burn calories. I like biking. What’s your favorite type of cardio?

This article was written in collaboration with editor Vladlena Lee.

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