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Gym Fitness

Easy Ab Workouts

Looking for easy ab workouts for beginners? We’ve got you covered. Check out our latest blog post to learn more now!

Published: 2/2/15

Easy Ab Workouts

Working out your core does not need to be a long and drawn-out process. In fact, you can enjoy an incredibly effective workout in just 5 to 10 minutes that will have your muscles burning for days on end. So, we wanted to share easy ab workouts for beginners below to help you get started on building core strength.

Crunches & Sit-Ups

The Standard Crunch

Crunches are probably the most popular exercise used to build strong abdominal muscles. To complete a crunch, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your hands lightly behind your head with your elbows out to the side.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles to lift your head, shoulder blades, and mid-back off the ground. (Be sure to keep your hands lightly behind your head to not pull your head forward.)
  4. Finally, slowly lower your back and head back to the starting position.

Ball Crunch

There are many variations to the standard crunch that can be used to switch up a workout and engage the abdominal muscles in different ways. For example, the ball crunch can be used to reduce the level of leg muscle involvement, which is more present in a standard floor crunch. To complete a ball crunch:

  1. Lean back with an exercise ball resting under your lower back, have your knees bent, and feet firmly planted on the ground.
  2. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows extended out to the side.
  3. Crunch up, lifting your head, neck, shoulders, upper back, and mid-back from the ball.

The ball should stay stable during the entire exercise. Not only does this exercise more specifically focus on the abdominal muscles, but many people also find it to be a more comfortable exercise than the standard crunch.

Verticle Leg Crunch

Another great ab exercise that can be used to move pressure away from the legs and onto the torso is the vertical leg crunch. For this exercise:

  1. Lie down with you back on the ground and your legs pointing straight up, forming a right angle at your hips.
  2. Place your hands lightly behind your head, extending your elbows out to the side.
  3. Engage your core muscles and pull your head, neck, shoulders, upper back, and mid-back off of the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position.

Sit-Ups

Now, we are going to take that crunch and use our abs to pull us up even further into a sit-up. Yes, it is that exercise you used to have to do in high school PE. To complete a sit-up, do the following:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your hands lightly behind your head with your elbows out to the side.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles to lift your head, shoulder blades, and mid and lower back up off of the ground.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.

The critical difference between these two ab exercises (besides the engaged muscles) is that a sit-up extends the crunch movement until you are sitting completely upright. Due to this extended movement, a sit-up engages more non-abdominal muscles such as your neck, chest, and leg muscles. Many gym-goers prefer crunches to sit-ups because crunches are completed with smaller movements while providing very similar benefits to the abdominal muscles as a sit-up. Also, many individuals with back and neck pain find that crunches put less stress on these areas than do sit-ups.

There are tons of different crunches for you to try: straight-arm crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, etc. Any form of crunch exercise is going to strengthen your abdominal muscles. The key to any great crunch is to focus on engaging the abdominal muscles to facilitate the crunch movement.

Captain’s Chair

A captain’s chair, also referred to as a power tower or leg raise, is a valuable piece of workout equipment that is available at most gyms. The chair generally has a padded backrest and armrests with no seat. There are also handles typically at the ends of the armrests. To use the captain’s chair: 

  1. Start your ab routine by placing your arms on the parallel armrests, holding on to the handles and pushing your back against the backrest with your legs hanging down.
  2. Your arms should form a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your legs either straight out in front of you or bend your knees and lift them past your hips. 
  3. Return to the start position.

Different lifts will give you different results. With all of the captain’s chair exercises, it is essential to use slow and controlled movements. You do not want the momentum of your legs to assist in their upward movement—your abdominal muscles should control the exercise. To turn your workout up a notch, you can increase the difficulty by performing this exercise while wearing ankle weights or holding a dumbbell between your feet.

Planks

Planking can provide an intense abdominal workout. For the standard plank:

  1. Place your forearms and toes on the ground, with your body stretched out.
  2. Make your body as parallel to the ground as possible and then use your abs to hold that position. Be sure not to shoot your glutes up to the sky or sink your hips. Your body should look like it is in a straight line.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.

Many fitness experts recommend holding this plank position for about two minutes. This can be challenging, so give yourself plenty of time to work up to it. Start by seeing how long you can hold a plank, and then, with each new workout, try to hold it just a couple of seconds longer. If you want a real challenge, work up to a five-minute plank!

We hope that these easy ab workouts give you a great place to start the next time it is time for you to work on your core. You can do core exercises at any of our locations. Find a location near you and come check it out.