With work, family, social gatherings, and chores, we have very little time to take care of our bodies. However, what if we told you there’s no need to actually hit the gym daily to maintain good shape?
Today, we’ll share some of the best ab workouts at home to help you get a toned stomach and enhance your core strength. They’re all home-friendly and don’t require any tools or equipment—maybe just a yoga mat!
Moreover, these ab workouts are easy enough to learn and replicate, even if you’re just a beginner. So, are you ready to get your dream body from the comfort of your home? Let’s begin!
As we start our list, we’ll first go with the most straightforward ab workouts. You’ll notice the exercises get a bit more complicated—not too much, though—as we move along.
The first ab workout for beginners is the plank exercise. This workout requires you to lay face down on your mat. Then, prop yourself up on your elbows and toes, keeping your elbows directly under your shoulders.
Make sure your head, back, and legs are all straight. Keep the position for about 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat it once or twice until you get used to it, and of course, increase time as you get more experienced.
- Arching your back during this exercise wouldn’t allow you to engage your stomach muscles sufficiently, making the exercise less effective.
- Sagging your hips or letting them spike can add more strain to your lower back. Hence, aligning your hips with your shoulders and heels is vital.
- Finally, underestimating the exercise because it looks easy can make you overdo it, leading to fatigue or strain. Please start with short periods, then increase.
The bird-dog crunch is another beginner-friendly exercise, but it’s a tad more eventful than the plank. This exercise targets your lower back, gluteal, and abdominal muscles.
To start, you need to place your mat in a relatively empty spot, as you’ll need to extend your arms and legs.
Now, start the position on your hands and knees on the mat. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, while your knees should be hip-width apart, with the hips squarely facing the ground.
Start by lifting your right arm and extending it straight forward. Then, lift the opposite leg—the left leg— and extend it in a straight line, too.
Keep this pose for a few seconds while ensuring your body is as straight as an arrow and your abdominal muscles are engaged. The “crunch” part happens when you bring your elbow to touch your knee under your torso.
This little motion requires loads of control and precision. After the crunch, extend back again, then relax to the original position. Repeat with your other arm and legs for about 5–10 times.
- Some people rush the movement, affecting their balance and focus.
- Arching or sagging your back and hips can put extra strain on your spine.
- Sagging your chest is another mistake people make, which can also be harmful.
One of the best ab workouts for women and beginners is the bicycle crunches exercise and its variations.
It’s a classical exercise that targets the entire abdominal muscle group, with a nice emphasis on the obliques.
To begin this exercise, lie flat on your back with your hand just behind your head and your elbows flaring outwards like wings. Now, lift one knee to a 90-degree angle and lift your shoulders off the mat without pulling on your neck.
Start moving your legs as if you’re cycling, then bring your knees up and try to touch them with the opposite elbow as you progress. Always keep the other leg straight while the other bends, and use your abdomen muscles to help control your balance.
- Rushing through the exercise and not engaging the muscles properly.
- Rotating your hips instead of letting your shoulders do all the work.
- Straining your neck instead of simply holding your head and neck in your hands.
Besides the name, the best thing about this exercise is that it’s super easy! The dead bug exercise starts by lying flat on your back with your arms extended straight to the ceiling.
Then, slowly lift your leg, bending it at the knees to form a 90-degree angle with your shin straightforward—this is your starting position.
Ensure your lower back is connected to the floor and your core muscles are engaged throughout the exercise.
To start the exercise, extend your right arm behind your head while simultaneously lowering your left leg towards the floor. Keep the movements slow and study, and alternate between arm and leg around 10 times.
- Dropping your arms and legs too quickly which leaves you with too little muscle engagement.
- Arching your lower back away from the floor to make it easier to drop your leg—reduces muscle engagement.
- Breathing too fast or holding your breath can disrupt the exercise’s rhythm and tire you out.
As you can tell by its name, this exercise asks you to mimic the motion of climbing a mountain, making it a bit of an intense workout. One of the best elements of this exercise is that it targets your arms, chest, legs, and abdominal muscles.
All you have to do is start in the plank position, with your body forming a straight line from head to heel.
Then, slowly move one knee to your chest, then switch to the other, mimicking the running or climbing motion. Once you understand the workout, move your feet faster to increase the intensity of the exercise.
- Rushing through the movements without maintaining your form.
- Using your toes to bounce, which leads to less core engagement.
- Spiking your hips up which can compromise your balance.
Now that we’re done with some of the easy exercises, it’s time to kick it up a notch! Russian twists are a popular core exercise renowned for targeting the oblique muscles, giving you a toned waistline.
To perform the Russian twist, you need to sit on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, slowly lean back to create a V shape with your torso and thigh. Don’t forget to keep your spine straight.
Usually, you’re supposed to raise your feet from the floor to engage the muscles more and make it more challenging.
However, for beginners, it’s advisable to keep your feet firmly planted where they are. Hold your hand in front of your chest in a fist or hold a lightweight object—if you have dumbbells, that’ll be great— and twist your torso from one side to the other.
The key is to keep your movement slow and deliberate, focusing on rotating from your waist and keeping your form.
- Relying too much on your arms pulling you from side to side, instead of engaging your core muscles.
- Slouching or rounding your back, which puts unnecessary pain on your spine.
- Jerking or moving too fast and accidentally pulling muscles.
If you’ve never heard of Pilates, chances are you’re about to experience some tough muscle soreness!
Pilates is a form of body-mind workout developed in the early 20th century. Among its many exercises is the Pilates hundred.
The hundred requires you to lay flat on your back on the mat. Easy, right? Now, bend your knees to your chest and lift your legs to align your shins to the floor.
For those with more experience, you can extend your leg at a 45-degree angle or leave it straight to make for a greater challenge.
Now, lift your head, neck, and shoulder off the mat, and extend your arms straight at your side, also a few inches off the ground.
Finally, move your arms up and down in a controlled movement for a few seconds before relaxing and repeating it again.
- Straining your neck and shoulder in this workout is a pretty typical mistake. It’s important to keep your upper body relaxed and the core engaged.
- Arching your back off the floor affects the exercise’s quality.
- Pointing your chin at the ceiling instead of tucking your head towards your chest can further increase the straining.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Originally, this was a powerful core strengthening post highly regarded in yoga. However, tonight we’re hijacking the boat pose, also known as navasana, to help strengthen our core muscles and enhance our stability!
The boat post starts with you sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your hands on the floor, just behind your hips, and slightly lean back.
Slowly lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor—this is the starting position. To move to the actual pose, straighten your legs until your body forms a V shape.
Extend your arms right next to your legs, with the palms facing each other. You need to stay in this position for a few seconds before relaxing and repeating it again.
- Rounding or hunching your back is one of the biggest mistakes that can affect your balance.
- Holding your breath can also be tiresome and negatively affect your workout. It’s best to breathe steadily and evenly.
- Straining your neck to maintain your posture shouldn’t be a part of your workout.
Hollow Body Hold
The hollow body hold is, in a way, similar to the boat pose workout but requires a different body position and focuses on engaging the deep abdominal muscles in a unique manner.
To begin the workout, you need to lay completely flat on the mat, with your arms overhead and legs straight out. Ensure your back is always straight and touching the floor to avoid injuries or straining.
Then, engage your ab muscles and slowly lift your arms and legs with your shoulder and head going up, too, but not as much.
Hold this position for about 30 seconds, or as long as you can, then relax before repeating it again.
- Letting your lower back lift off the mat, which can strain your spine.
- Holding your breath unnecessarily can also affect your training.
- Bending your knees or elbows reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
If you’ve ever been on a swimming team, you know that flutter kicks aren’t as delicate and fluttery as they sound!
This workout targets your lower abdominal muscles, obliques, and hip flexors in a powerful exercise that requires loads of endurance and core strength.
To start the flutter kicks workout, you must lie down on your mat with your legs straight and arms extended next to you.
Now, lift your legs off the floor and begin to quickly alternate between lifting one leg higher while lowering the other.
Keep your motions small and controlled to maintain a good form. For beginners, you can start the exercise by grabbing your ankles and alternating between legs for the first 10 kicks or until you’re comfortable.
This can seem harder, but it actually makes it easier as you don’t have to rely on your abdominal muscles as much in the beginning.
- Arching your lower back is the first mistake everybody falls for. It reduces engagement in the abdominal muscles.
- Lifting your legs too high can also pose an issue, as this way, you won’t be engaging your lower muscles as much.
- Moving too quickly or flailing your limbs simply reduces the exercise efficacy and can actually leave you unbalanced or with strained muscles.
Summing it Up
For those of you looking for a couple of quick ab workouts at home, the previous ten exercises should be on your list!
The plank, bird-dog crunch, bicycle crunches, dead bug, and mountain climber are all excellent choices for strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles.
Once you’ve got the first five down, you can start with something more challenging like the Russian twists, Pilates 100, boat pose (navasana), hollow body hold, and flutter kicks.
Most of these exercises target the abs as well as glutes, legs, chest, and arms, offering a comprehensive workout routine that you can easily do at home.
I’m fitness coach Ashley Castleberry, an NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritionist, as well as a coach on an established YouTube Channel with over 1 million followers. With certifications from major fitness brands, I specialize in athletic, HIIT, and strength training. Leveraging my experience coaching clients on lifestyle changes, I provide customized exercise and nutrition guidance to help people reach their fitness goals, whether that be weight loss, muscle gain or overall health improvement.