15 Ab Exercises for Women

Core Workouts, Fitness, Workouts by Type

By: // February 19, 2020

We all long for great abs but many women wonder how many crunches a day it would actually take to get them. The answer is NONE. When it comes to ab workouts for women, crunches are going to fall toward the bottom of our list.

Instead, we’ve come up with our 15 favorite ab exercises for women that will effectively help you shed fat and tone up.

Abdominal Muscle Groups

Before we get to the exercises, it’s important to understand what muscles make up your abs so you can better understand the importance of diversifying your moves in order to accomplish what you are looking for. The best ab workouts for women will include all four of these muscles:

  • Transversus Abdominus: Think of this as an internal corset that pulls you in nice and tight keeping your tummy tight and your back strong. When you cough or blow out candles, this is the muscle you are engaging.
  • External Obliques: These are the large muscles that wrap around your rib cage starting just beneath your arms. They help you flex, bend, twist and rotate.
  • Internal Obliques: These are deeper side muscles than the external obliques and help to stabilize you.
  • Rectus Abdominus: This is the one most people think of when they look at their abs because it is noticeable. It is the muscle that runs up the front of the body and looks like a 6-pack when super lean. The rectus abdominus helps to flex the spine as well as provide stabilization during side bending and while your extremities are moving.

Related: 9 Tips + Workout To Get Rid of Lower Belly Fat

Our 15 Best Ab Exercises For Women

Knowing all of that, we have chosen 15 of our best moves to include in this ab workout that tackle all four muscles of the abdominals. Below, each of the ab exercises is explained and shown just for you! They are all bodyweight only, making them user-friendly anytime and anywhere. Plus, we lay out options for how to put them together for the ultimate ab workout for women! Here are some ideas:

  1. Tighten the Tummy: Go down the list and perform each exercise once for 24 reps each (12 per side if sides are given or a 30-second hold for isometrics like a plank). This will give you a chance to learn each move and experience them completely. It’s also a great quick workout before zipping up some tight jeans or slipping into a swimsuit.
  2. Make it a 15-minute workout! Perform each move for 16 reps (8 per side or 15-second hold isometrics) and do the whole list 3 times through. This gives you an awesome workout that not only tightens and defines your abs, but gives you a beautiful 15-minute ab workout to boot!
  3. Complete a Workout! Select your 8 favorite exercises from our list and tack them on to the end of your power walk, cycle session or leg day. It’s always good to add a bit of core to any workout. Remember – it’s not just about a flat tummy. You are also strengthening your back for life!! Perform each move for 50 seconds, with 10 seconds to transition. In just 8 short minutes you’ll be so glad you did!


Chris Freytag demonstrating v-ups

How to perform v-ups:

1) Lie on your back and extend your arms behind your head. Keep your feet together and toes pointed.

2) Keep your legs straight and lift them up as you simultaneously raise your upper body off the floor. Keep your core tight as you reach for your toes with your hands. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

Targets: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus

Side Plank Dips

Chris Freytag demonstrating side plank lift and lower

How to perform side plank lift and lower:

1) Start by laying on your right side with forearm below shoulder, body lifted and legs long and feet stacked. Keep body straight, abs tight and place left hand on hip.

2) Dip your hips down towards the mat and lift back up using your obliques and core muscles.

Targets: internal obliques, external obliques

Side Plank Reach Through

Chris Freytag demonstrating side plank scoop or reach through

How to perform a side plank scoop:

1) Begin in a full side plank position with right hand below shoulder, left arm reaching high above left shoulder and legs long. (Modify by placing bottom knee onto mat if needed)

2) Tighten abdominals and slowly scoop left arm under the body, following with your eyes until you see behind you.

3) Slowly reach left hand back to start position.

4) Repeat for desired number of repetitions and switch sides.

Targets: transverse abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominus

Toe Reach

Chris Freytag demonstrating toe touch with reach

How to perform toe touches with reach:

1) Start on back with legs long reaching towards the ceiling.

2) Bring head, neck, and shoulders off the mat and reach arms up towards the feet. Return to the tips of the shoulders and repeat.

Targets: rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus


Chris Freytag demonstrating a plank

How to perform a plank:

1) Begin kneeling on all fours with hand directly under shoulders and toes on the mat.

2) Tighten abdominals and raise your body up off the floor, lengthening legs behind you. Hold entire body tight for desired amount of time and breathe.

Targets: transverse abdominus

Bicycle Crunch

Chris Freytag demonstrating bicycle crunch

How to perform a bicycle:

1) Start lying on back with feet off the floor and legs in a tabletop position. Hands are behind the head and head, neck, and shoulders are flexed off the mat.

2) Bring one knee in and the opposite elbow over reaching towards it. Repeat on the other side in a criss cross motion working the obliques.

Targets: transverse abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominus

Boat Pose

Freytag demonstrating boat pose

How to perform boat pose:

1) From a seated position, draw naval to spine bracing abdominals and, with hands on floor behind you, bring your legs up off the floor with knees bent in front of the chest.

2) Keeping abdominals tight, slowly lift hands off floor and reach them forward and up while simultaneously lengthening legs upward. Your body will look like a “V” shape. Lengthen spine as you hold. (If your hamstrings are too tight, bend knees slightly.)

3) Keep abdominals tight and breathe. Stay for 30-60 seconds or as long as you can.

Targets: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus

Sweeping Scissors

Chris Freytag demonstrating sweeping scissors

How to perform sweeping scissors:

1) Start lying on the mat with arms over your head and legs long.

2) Sweep arms out to sides and bring head, neck, and shoulders off the mat reaching arms long and lift one leg up and in towards the chest.  Reaching arms forward on the sides of the leg. Roll back to mat lowering the leg, and repeat on the other side.

Targets: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus

Side To Side Obliques

Chris Freytag demonstrating side to side oblique exercises

How to perform side to side obliques:

1) Lie on mat and bring knees into the chest forming a tabletop position. Bring the head, neck and shoulder off the mat coming into crunch reaching arms long at the sides.

2) Exhale as you reach right fingers to the right side and forward then return to center on the inhale. Exhale and reach left fingers to the left side and forward. Switch side to side without lowering onto the mat.

Targets: transverse abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominus

Bend Extend Ab Tuck

Chris Freytag demonstrating bend extend ab tucj

How to perform bend extend ab tuck:

1) Start seated on mat with arms behind you, hands on the mat and fingers facing your backside. Sit back on your hands and lift up your feet off the mat keeping the knees bent.

2) Keep abs tight and press your legs out long and lower back down slightly. You should feel your lower abdominals working, then push yourself back up and pull your knees in to return to your starting position.

Targets: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus

Spiderman Abs

Chris Freytag demonstrating spiderman abs

How to perform spiderman abs:

1) Start in a plank position with hands on mat slightly wider than shoulders, legs long behind you and abdominals and glutes squeezed tight.

2)  Pull the left knee toward the outside of your left elbow and hold for one count. Return to the starting and repeat on right side.

Targets: transverse abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques

Forearm Star Plank

Chris Freytag demonstrating forearm star plank

How to perform forearm star plank:

1) Begin lying on right side, forearm on the floor, body lifted, and legs extended long on the mat with feet stacked.

2) Tighten abdominals and lift left leg and arm up in the air. Hold them straight and keep body still for desired amount of time. Switch sides.

Targets: external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominus

Hip Dips

Chris Freytag demonstrating hip dips

How to perform hip dips:

1) Begin in a forearm plank position with your forearms flat on the mat, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders, your core is engaged, and your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet.

2) Lower your left hip toward the floor until it almost touches and then immediately raise back to center.

3) Repeat on the right side.

Target: transverse abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques

Double Leg Stretch

Chris Freytag demonstrating double leg stretch

How to perform double leg stretch:

1) Start lying on back with knees bent 90 degrees and arms lengthened alongside calves.  The low back should be pressed against the mat with head, neck and shoulders flexed up off the mat.

2) As you inhale, stretch your arms straight behind your head and legs straight to a diagonal position in front. As you exhale, circle arms around and back to legs while drawing knees back in to the 90-degree angle. Repeat for desired number of reps.

Targets: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus

Plank To Balance Plank

Chris Freytag demonstrating plank to balance plank

How to perform plank to balance plank:

1) Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists and your body in a straight line.

2) Simultaneously raise your right hand off and left foot off the floor, squeezing abs and glutes.

Targets: transverse abdominus

READ THIS NEXT: 8 Strength Training Moves Women Over 50 Should Do 

Printed from GetHealthyU.com

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