Forget sit-ups — this no-equipment ab workout blasts your deep core

a photo of a woman with strong ab muscles
(Image credit: Getty/mihailomilovanovic)

If you’re serious about sculpting strong and defined abs, traditional crunches and sit-ups may not be enough to see the results you’re hoping for. To truly engage your core muscles and enhance core strength, it's time to shake up your ab routine. 

Courteney Fisher, a trusted name in the fitness industry, has developed an intermediate-level, no-equipment ab workout that promises to engage your six-pack and core muscles. With Fisher’s simple routine, you can say goodbye to monotonous exercises and hello to four fun and challenging moves. 

This workout focuses on working your core muscles through a full range of motion, keeping your abs engaged throughout each exercise. It has been designed at an intermediate level but also without the need for any special equipment or gym membership so anyone can give it a go.

Please note, it’s important that you always listen to your body and take a rest day if needed. Noticeable results are more likely to come when you prioritize your safety and well-being throughout your fitness journey.

What is the workout?

The aim is to complete two to three rounds of the workout, with one minute of rest between each round. These timings allow for an appropriate balance of intensity and recovery for an effective ab workout. 

As you progress and your core strength improves, you can challenge yourself further by increasing the number of rounds in this routine. Just be ready to embrace the burn and work up a sweat.

Reverse tabletop knee lifts 30 reps

To perform reverse tabletop knee lifts, start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind you, fingers pointing toward your body or slightly outward depending on what feels comfortable for you. 

Lift your hips off the ground, forming a reverse tabletop position. From here, engage your core and lift one knee toward your chest while maintaining the tabletop position. Lower the leg back down and repeat with the other leg. 

Alternate between lifting each knee for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on engaging your abdominal muscles throughout the movement.

Half leg lowers: 20 reps per side

To perform half-leg raises, start by lying on your back with your legs extended. Keep your core engaged and your lower back pressed against the floor. Slowly raise your legs upward toward the ceiling, keeping them straight or slightly bent at the knees. 

However, instead of lowering your legs all the way down, stop when they are about halfway down toward the floor. Focus on using your lower abs to control the movement.

Butterflies: 30 reps

To perform butterflies, start by lying on the ground with your head and legs lifted off the floor, balancing on your tailbone. From this position, simultaneously extend your legs straight out in front of you while opening them apart like the wings of a butterfly. Keep your core engaged and maintain control as you bring your legs back together, returning to the starting position. 

Repeat this kicking motion, focusing on the contraction of your abdominal muscles. Aim for the desired number of repetitions while maintaining control and proper form.

Bicycle crunch and lift: 30 reps

To perform the bicycle crunch and lift exercise, start by lying flat on your back with your hands gently supporting your head. Lift your shoulders and head off the ground, engaging your core. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor, bringing your knees toward your chest. 

As you straighten your right leg, rotate your upper body to bring your left elbow toward your right knee, simultaneously lifting your right shoulder off the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the other side, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee while straightening your left leg. 

Alternate between the bicycle crunch and lifting your torso into a tabletop position, engaging your core and maintaining control throughout the exercise.

What are the benefits?

Well, it may seem obvious, but this workout is incredibly time-efficient, making it perfect for those moments when you're pressed for time or want to add Fisher's four ab-blasting moves to the end of your next strength or running routine.

Engaging in regular core exercise can offer your body and fitness level a range of benefits. A strong core provides stability and support for your entire body, enhancing your overall posture and balance. One key move in this workout, the Reverse Tabletop Knee Lifts, specifically targets the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which helps stabilize the trunk and protect the spine. By strengthening these deep core muscles, you can improve your body's stability, movement control, and resilience to injury.

Additionally, a strong core promotes better functional movement and enhances overall body strength. By incorporating this short and simple ab circuit into your fitness routine, you'll not only develop a more defined midsection but also enjoy the advantages of a stronger and more resilient core, allowing you to move with confidence and perform at your best in various sports and physical activities.

More from Tom's Guide

Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.