I added these three ab exercises to my routine and noticed a difference in my core in just one week

Woman in a grey studio performing a forearm plank
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re anything like me, you relish that burning sensation in your core when you’re doing a really good ab workout — it’s a sign you’re sculpting strong muscles. To mix things up as I returned to the gym post-Christmas, I tried adding three new abdominal moves to my routine for one week. After all, it can become boring and a little demotivating when you don’t see the results you want because your body has adapted to your current schedule and things have plateaued a little. 

The exercises I chose — hundreds, plank shoulder taps, and roll-ups aren’t new, but they’re ones I don’t do a lot, and I certainly don’t do them together as a trio. Read on to find out what happened when I added this core circuit to my routine for a week. 

The benefits of my chosen ab moves 

All three of the exercises I chose target the abdominal muscles — the six-pack muscles that run along the front of the abdomen (rectus abdominis), as well as the deep core muscles (transverse abdominis) and the obliques. The muscles that lie around our midsection are crucial in ensuring we maintain good stability and balance. A strong core can also help to prevent back pain and other injuries and support us throughout day-to-day movement as well as during exercise.

The exercises I chose to add to my ab routine also provide other benefits — plank shoulder taps, for example, also target the muscles in the arms. Roll-ups, a classic Pilates exercise, are fantastic for improving flexibility and stretching out the hamstrings.

How to do each exercise 


an illo of a woman doing the pilates hundreds

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • For this exercise, lie back on the floor with your arms down by your side.
  • Lift your head and shoulders off the floor as well as your arms. Keep your palms facing down.
  • Your legs can be bent slightly with your feet off the floor, or if you find this too hard, keep your feet on the ground.
  • Pump your arms, making small, fast movements.
  • As you do so, inhale for five pumps and exhale for five pumps. Keep going till you’ve completed 100.

Plank shoulder taps

an illo of a man doing plank shoulder taps

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and body in a straight line.
  • Take your right hand off the floor and tap your left shoulder. Then place your right hand back down and tap your right shoulder with your left hand.
  • Keep alternating sides, engaging the muscles in your core, back, and glutes, to keep your body as still as possible.


an illustration of a woman doing an ab roll up

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • Lie back on the ground, arms up overhead close to your ears.
  • Inhale as you bring your arms up so they are overhead.
  • Then, exhale as you use your core muscles to curl your body off the ground, continuing to bring your arms up and over, reaching them forward to your toes.
  • At this point, your back should be rounded. Then, slowly unwind the movement, returning to the ground.

For my challenge, I did 100 of the hundreds (of course), 30 plank shoulder taps, and six roll-ups. I completed the circuit three times and took a rest when I felt my form deteriorating. 

I added these three ab moves to my routine for a week and this is what happened 

My hamstrings felt looser

It’s thanks to roll-ups that I’ve noticed a big difference in the flexibility of my hamstrings. I’ve always been someone with painfully tight hammies (I blame running for that) but roll-ups certainly helped to stretch them out, whilst also targeting my spine and core. 

I noticed more definition in my abs

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — to see your abs muscles, you need to have a low body fat percentage. I carry a bit of stomach fat, but when I increase my core training, I always notice increased muscle definition as my levels of body fat aren’t high. If you want to see your abs muscles, you need to make sure that you try to lose the fat that lies on top. Often, genetics can dictate how easy or hard it is for someone to lose fat — here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters.

As a personal trainer and marathon runner, I’m pretty used to working out regularly, but I found these exercises woke up my midsection. After a week, I can see visible differences in my upper abs. 

Hundreds do get easier

I won’t lie, hundreds are a tricky exercise as they require some serious stability, especially if you do the exercise with your feet off the ground. But, over my week, these became far easier, plus, it became easier to pair the pumps with timed exhales and inhales. 

It’s simple to progress these exercises

Fancy a challenge? Me too! As the week went on I decided to up the ante by adding a weight plate on my back for the plank shoulder taps to increase the resistance. Meanwhile, I slowed the tempo right down for my roll-ups, which kept my core under tension for longer. As for the hundreds, I simply did more reps or, if straightened my legs towards the ceiling. I found this pretty challenging, but it’s a work in progress!

I felt the burn

As predicted, adding these exercises to my routine was an easy way to fire up my muscles and ignite that sought-after burn. After two rounds, I had to give my legs and body a quick shake-out before tentatively heading into the It’s important to add that you can also ignite muscle growth without feeling sore. 

I added these three ab moves to my routine — here’s my verdict 

Need an ab workout shake-up? If your answer is yes, I highly recommend throwing these moves into your regime. Hundreds, plank shoulder taps, and roll-ups are all epic moves for the core muscles, and the allocated reps and sets that I opted for, meant that I had to work hard to get to the end of my third round. 

Naturally, in time, these would all become a lot easier so I recommend combining them with other exercises, adding in progressions where possible, and alternating reps and sets too. 

Like all muscle groups in the body, I wouldn’t recommend working your abs every single day of the week — your core muscles need rest so they can repair and grow. It’s worth keeping in mind that your ab muscles are working throughout other movements at the gym, particularly anything that involves you staying stable and balanced, so it’s important they get time to recover.

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Lucy Gornall

Lucy is a freelance health and fitness journalist as well as a pre and post-natal personal trainer. Although a sweaty gym session (skipping rope is a must) is her favorite way to ‘relax’, she’s also a fan of bingeing on The Office, snacking on chocolate-coated raisins, and fizz-filled brunches with friends.