If you’re bored of sit-ups and reverse crunches and can’t stand the sight of another plank or Russian twist, we seriously feel you. So stash away the worn-out ab exercises for a rainy day, and try these three ab moves instead.
It can take a lot of mental energy to keep things creative in the gym while still ticking boxes on progressive overload (you know, that crucial muscle and strength-building method), tracking goals and staying motivated and consistent.
These ab exercises below don’t reinvent the wheel, but they certainly shake things up. We even provide a three-move ab workout you can do to bring them all together. Next time you head to the gym, these are the three exercises to include.
Do ab workouts reduce belly fat?
You’ve likely read articles promising to chisel more defined abs using “just this one workout.” Fake news. No standalone workout shreds fat.
“Abs” refer to your rectus abdominis or the “six-pack” muscles. But your core consists of a network of muscles, including superficial ones like the abs and deeper, stabilizing muscles that support your torso, like the transverse abdominis.
These intricate muscles work as a unit, wrap around your torso, hug the spine and extend to your glutes and hips, keeping your body robust. So, a core workout worth its salt will target more than just your abs. But most importantly, regularly training your core will help build lean muscle mass and strength in the area.
This helps create midsection definition, but you’ve essentially done the groundwork. How well you can see your abs heavily relies on a low body fat percentage, and you can’t spot-reduce fat. That’s where other factors like genetics, diet, stress, lifestyle and overall daily activity (also known as NEAT) have an impact.
Find out why you can’t see your abs yet, despite working out to learn more.
3 best ab exercises to include in gym ab workouts
You only need a suspension trainer, one barbell and one of the best treadmills to try these moves. Here they are
1. TRX push-up knee tuck
The tuck engages your core muscles, lower back and hip flexor muscles, similar to plank tucks. The push-ups engage your triceps, anterior deltoids and pectoral muscles. This combo move engages the entire body using a high plank and knee drive.
- Place both feet in the suspension trainer handles and start in a high plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists
- Engage your stomach muscles and keep your hips in line with your shoulders
- Bend your knees and drive them toward your elbows
- Pause, then extend your legs back to the starting position.
2. Barbell ab rollout
Like an ab wheel rollout, the move targets your arms, shoulders, chest, lats, core, lower back and hip flexor muscles. The barbell is heavier and harder to roll out, creating more tension to work against and, arguably, requires more control. Some ab wheels use coil spring resistance to help guide you back, but you don’t get that here.
But if you have unstable shoulders, you might find the wider surface area of the barbell easier to grip and navigate.
- Start on your knees and load the barbell with a plate on either side
- Grip the barbell shoulder-width distance apart
- Engage your core, shoulders and glutes, then shift your weight forwards so that your shoulders are over the bar
- Slowly roll the barbell forwards as far as you can, with control
- Keep your shoulders engaged, slightly tuck your pelvis under and lift your hips
- Avoid any sagging of your hips and chest, and keep your back straight
- Pause, then roll the barbell back to your starting position.
3. Treadmill mountain climbers
For this exercise, turn the treadmill off and drive the belt with your body weight alone. It’s basically a mountain climber on steroids, increasing tension and demand on your body. The move targets the same muscles as mountain climbers, targeting your entire body and torching your legs and core muscles as they work far harder to drive movement.
- With the treadmill turned off, place your hands on either side of the treadmill, not the belt
- Start in a high plank position with shoulders stacked over your wrists and hips in line with your shoulders, feet on the tread belt. Engage your stomach muscles
- Begin mountain climbers by driving one knee forward at a time, pushing the treadmill away as you drive the leg back each rep. Repeat
- Avoid dropping your hips or tracking shoulders behind the wrists.
15-minute 3-move ab workout to try
Work for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds and repeat each exercise for five rounds. Try not to rest between rounds, but if you're a beginner, give yourself 30-60 seconds to recover.
If you're currently experiencing shoulder pain, ab rollouts might not be for you. Check with a personal trainer before starting these exercises, and stop if pain persists.
To progress the ab rollout, start in a standing position.