So, you’re looking for a great workout for your abs, but you don’t feel like going anywhere. Hey, don’t be ashamed — we’re right there with you.
Whether you’re not interested in going to the gym or just terrified of leaving your home for fear of giant spider invasions, you can still get a great home ab workout right in your own living room. (You can also get just about any kind of workout right at home, if you want — check out our list of 25 Quick Workouts You Can Get In 25 Minutes.)
And today we’re showing you the very best of the best of core-sculpting workouts from around the web. They range from beginner to intermediate to advanced, and they all bring something unique to the table.
Now, in addition to that, you’re going to want to download the workout sheets we’ve created for each of these workouts, so you can save/print them to be used at your leisure.
Do you really need to train your abs separately?
This is actually a hotly debated topic across the world of fitness. Everyone from calisthenics enthusiasts to bodybuilders have questioned or debated this topic.
Now, when people make this argument, they’re not just saying abs-specific exercises need be excluded: they’re referring to the entire core, which really encompasses the muscles that stabilize the spine, ranging from your hips to your shoulders.
The argument is that, if you’re training with other well-known exercises, such as the push up or squat, you’re already working your core. They’re not the primary muscles being engaged in these exercises, but they’re still getting worked. If you keep your body fat percentage low, some argue, you should be able to have a solid core without needing to dedicate part of your workout schedule to planks, v-ups and crunchy frogs.
We, along with a lot of our calisthenics mentors and peers, strongly believe that because of the enormous importance a strong core relates to a strong, healthy body, it should be given appropriate attention while exercising. We don’t disagree when people say it’s a secondary muscle being worked with exercises like the squat or push up (in fact, that’s one of the best parts about bodyweight training — you work a number of different muscle groups with most exercises); we’re simply suggesting that you make time to give this part of your body the attention it deserves.
The Spot Fat Reduction Myth
Now, part of the reason people may not believe it’s important to specifically work the abs (and the rest of the core) is because of what’s known as the “spot fat reduction” myth. If you’re not familiar, this is the thoroughly debunked idea that you can burn away fat in a specific area by working out that part of the body.
So let’s say you have some unwanted arm flab, as it’s a very common place for stubborn fat to hang around. The idea that you can eliminate that fat simply with a strict regimen of dips, chin ups and other arm exercises is not true. And it’s just as true for your abs.
See, fat is stored all throughout our body, and the way we combat that is by exercise. The excess calories from the food we’ve consumed is metabolized into fuel, which burns away the unwanted fat. So yes, abs exercises do help you burn away fat in your stomach… but no more than it burns away fat throughout the rest of your body. There’s no correlation between fat being burned closer to a muscle group being worked.
But that doesn’t mean the home abs workouts we’re about to show you are meaningless, of course. Like we mentioned earlier, your core is critical to your physical well being and we want to make sure it’s as strong as it can be. These exercises are going to help you get to that lean and mean stage you want your abs, with a sculpted look that makes you confident to walk around shirtless (weather permitting).
Top 6 Ab Workouts
We’re ranking these from beginner to advanced, so the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out which workout is right for you. That’s why we’ve put together this handy quiz to get you started!
And don’t forget to download the workout sheets for each workout! That way you can take these with you wherever you go. But don’t worry, all of these are purely calisthenics-based. The only thing you’ll need is your body (and a workout mat, if you don’t want to dirty up your backside).
Without further ado, here are our favorite home abs workouts from around the web. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments!
5 Minute Easy Abs Workout — HASfit (Beginner)
Why we love it
It’s five exercises that engage just about every muscle in the core area, and it starts with the crunch. Now, we’ve been critical of the crunch in the past, and that’s largely because people don’t do them correctly. They put too much pressure on the neck and it causes terrible strain. This workout, however, teaches the proper form.
It’s two complete circuits of the five exercises and takes about five minutes total. If you’re a beginner, this is a great place to start building those abs.
Ab Exericses for Beginners — Natalie Jill Fitness (Beginner)
Why We Love It
This five-minute workout puts the emphasis exactly where it should be, especially for beginners: quantity, not quality.
“It’s not the number, it’s not the amount of time,” host and trainer Natalie Jill says. “It’s what we’re feeling. Are you feeling it in those abs?” And while challenging, this workout should not overwhelm the beginner athlete as the pace is moderate and there are some brief pauses between exercises.
Intense Home Ab Workout — Brendan Meyers (Intermediate)
Why We Love It
This workout, while still in the shorter time range, turns the difficulty dial up a bit with host and trainer Brendan Meyers.
He’s going to show you some exercises you may have never seen before, like the single-leg plank crunch. It sounds intense, and that’s because it is! Each exercise has a set number of reps so you will need to complete, so you can take your time if need be. But if you push yourself to keep pace with Meyers, it should only take about five minutes.
Six-Pack Tabata — Brandon Carter (Intermediate)
Why We Love It
Well, as you may have already known, we love Tabata workouts. They’re just about the best way to get a solid workout in a very short amount of time. Brandon Carter has numerous Tabata workouts on his YouTube channel, and you should absolutely check them out if you’re interested in this type of workout.
Tabata, if you’re not familiar, involves eight rounds of exercise in which the athlete will work for 20 seconds, rest for 10, then repeat. 8 rounds of this adds up to four minutes that will leave you completely drained.
This particular Tabata circuit focuses on the abs with four different exercises (done twice each) and definitely keeps the intensity way up.
5-Minute Abs & Core Workout — Joseph Yeoh Fitness (Advanced)
Why We Love It
Well, if four minutes of the 20/10 format is tough, why not try five?
Trainer Joseph Yeoh has a workout that pushes the Tabata-style workout past its already exhaustive traditional levels. While it’s technically not a Tabata workout (they’re strictly eight rounds of the 20/10 format; here we have ten), that doesn’t mean it’s any less butt-kicking.
Again, this one is strictly focused on the core, and it will have you begging for mercy by the end.
Ab Blasting Interval Workout — FitnessBlender (Advanced)
Why We Love It
We’re definitely jumping up a notch with this workout from FitnessBlender. At 24 mintues, it’s definitely the longest workout on this list, but it’s a great one if you’ve got a little more time and are looking for a killer abs workout.
The workout is structured into three groups of four different exercises. You’ll be working for 45 seconds, then resting for just ten. At the conclusion of each group, you can rest for as long as you need (and get some water!).
Now, we think this certainly belongs in the ‘advanced’ category, but if you’re more on the ‘intermediate level,’ not to worry: the video has two trainers, one doing the full exercises and another doing a modified version. So we would definitely recommend giving this workout a try, first with the slightly easier modified exercises. Then, if you feel so bold, give the full workout a shot!
Just be prepared to work hard, because as trainer Daniel warns in the video, by the end of the workout, “You should be basically unable to sit up.”