11 Best Abs Exercises For Beginners That Really Get Results

Are you disappointed by the results from the many hours of exercises trying to get a leaner, flatter ab? Here are 11 of the best abs exercises that the study by ACE found can give results.

best ab exercises

Are you disappointed by the results from the many hours of exercises trying to get a leaner, flatter ab? You are not the only one with that experience.

A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) – the workout watchdog – found that some abdominal exercises may not give you the results you want.[1]

Thus, to get the body and ab of your dreams, you need a better selection of exercises. You must also be willing to put some extra effort into your workout.

Here are 11 of the best abs exercises that the study by ACE found can give results.

You can do most of them in the comfort of your home. Thus, you don’t have to buy expensive fitness equipment for many of them. You don’t need to fork out for gym membership either.

In this article, I will also be guiding you through the steps you have to take to do those exercises. Follow the step-by-step guide and the tips to help you get the most out of the best abs exercises guide.

How do you give yourself the best chance to get the ab of your dreams?

According to Dr. Francis from ACE, you should

  • Try doing many of these top-rated exercises and choose those that you find comfortable to do
  • Concentrate on the ones you choose and ignore the others.
  • Aim to do a 5-minute session every day.
  • You will be able to come up with a combination that works for you as you progress.

Bicycle Crunches or Bicycle Maneuver

bicycle crunches

This is the best ab exercise that gives results, as rated by ACE

Level: Beginner

Target: Abdominals, including the obliques

Steps to Follow

  • Lie flat on an exercise mat with your face up and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Hold your head in your hands,
  • Raise your right knee, move it towards your chest or armpit and lift your shoulder blades from the floor. Do not pull your neck while doing this. At the same time, lift the left leg to a level slightly above your hips and stretch it as far as you can
  • Turn to the left and pull your elbow in the direction of the left knee while stretching the other leg at the same time.
  • Change direction by pulling the left elbow towards your right knee and go through the process described above, as if peddling a bike.
  • Repeat the cycle 12-16 times for up to 3 sets

Captain’s Chair Leg Raise

best ab exercises - leg raise

ACE regards the Captain’s Chair Leg Raise as one of the top three abdominal exercises that give results. You will need a Captain’s Chair for this exercise. Most gyms have this equipment. But don’t worry if you don’t have one at home. You can use abs straps or a pull-up bar for the exercise

Level: Intermediate

Target: abs, hip flexors, and obliques.

Steps to Follow

  • Stretch your hands upwards and grab with an overhand grip
  • Make your arms as straight as you can,
  • Inhale, bend your knees, lift yourself and hang your body from the bar.
  • Bend and lift your knees and bring your quads parallel to the ground
  • Engage your core, exhale, and lower your legs to the position you started
  • Aim to do this 8-10 times (one set) before taking a break
  • Aim to do 3 sets of 10 raises in each session

Exercise Ball Crunches

exercise ball crunches

The Exercise Ball Crunches is another of the top three best abs exercises as rated by ACE

Level: Intermediate

Target: abdominal + core muscles

Steps to Follow

  • Sit on the fitness ball and rest your feet on the floor; keep your feet about the width of your hip apart.
  • Roll yourself forward and rest the middle of your back on the ball
  • Rest the back of your head in your hands.
  • Keeping your back straight, exhale, pull in your abs and lift your shoulders while at the same time crunching your abs in the direction of your hips. Make sure the ball is steady when you do this.
  • Hold your pose for 3 deep breaths and return to your starting position
  • Repeat for up to 5 times and increase to about 16 repetitions as you build confidence.

Vertical Leg Crunch

Targets: rectus abdominis and the obliques

Level: Intermediate

vertical leg crunch
  • The Vertical Leg Crunch is about a step up the basic crunch. The difference is that you do the Vertical Leg Crunch with your legs perpendicular to the floor or straight up. This forces you to use your abs for all the exercise, making it more effective.
  • Lie flat on your back. Use an exercise mat to make you comfortable. Interlock your fingers and use them to support your neck
  • Raise your legs till they are perpendicular to the floor. Try to keep your legs together.
  • Contract or pull in your abs and make yourself ready for the movement.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Contract your core and keep it tight.
  • Curl the upper part of your body and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale while doing this. Make sure your legs remain straight and pointing upwards.
  • Keep curling your body upwards using your core muscles. Keep your chin up and don’t bend your neck when lifting your shoulder blades.
  • Pause and hold for a moment or two each time you lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
  • Uncurl by lowering the upper body. Inhale when doing this. Keep your legs straight and don’t drop them to the floor. The downward movement should be slow and controlled.
  • Do 3 sets of between 12 and 16 repetitions per session.

Hover Exercise

hover exercise

Also Known As: Plank on Elbows and Toes

Targets: Ab muscles, core muscles

Level: Beginner

Steps to Follow

NB: Make sure you have enough room to stretch your whole body fully when you get into position for this ab exercise

  • Stretch and lift your body and with your face down. Use your elbow and toes for support. This means you must tuck your elbow and toes firmly on the floor.
  • Relax your head and focus your eyes on the floor
  • Contract the muscles of your abdomen and pull your navel in the direction of your spine
  • Make sure your torso is straight and stiff. Align your shoulders, back, hips, and knees in a straight line with no bending or sagging. Your head must be in line with your back
  • Keep your butt down, and your shoulders and hips, square
  • This is the neutral spine position. Make sure your shoulders are down and not edging towards your ears.

Torso Track

Targets: abs and oblique

Level: Intermediate

It is a high-impact exercise that involves the use of the Torso Track exercise machine

Steps to Follow

  • Get on your knees in front of the machine. You can use a padded cushion or mat for support.
  • Grasp the handles
  • Pull in your abs
  • Start breathing out while sliding the handles forward. Push the handles as far as you can. Keep your back straight and your abs pulled in when doing this.
  • Glide back to your starting position. Inhale when back at where you started.
  • NB: It can hurt your back if you drop your stomach. Also, it is a sign that you have gone too far if you collapse or feel any back pain during the slide. Reduce the distance to protect your back.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times for a set and 1-3 sets per session
  • For best results, aim to complete up to 3 sets per session for at least 4 days per week for 5 weeks

Reverse Crunch

reverse crunches

Targets: Rectus abdominis or Abdominals

Level: Intermediate

The exercise involves curling your hips off the floor. Thus, you use the weight of your lower body to create the resistance you need

Steps to Follow

  • Lie flat on an exercise mat or a cushioned floor. Keep your hands by your side or under your head.
  • Stretch your legs fully, with your toes pointing your toes upwards. Fix your eyes on the ceiling or sky
  • Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Raise your legs. Move them towards your chest until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your feet together or crossed and your raised legs as straight as possible.
  • Tighten the muscles in your thighs and hips and keep them in this state throughout the exercise.
  • Exhale.
  • Pull your knees in the direction of your head.
  • Contract your abs
  • Curl your hips off the floor and bring your knees as far as you can to your face. Only your hips must come off the floor during the curl.
  • Keep your head straight and your knees at the same angle. Also, you must relax your head and shoulders and keep them on the mat throughout this stage.
  • Inhale. Get back slowly to your starting position with your hips on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle with your hips
  • Go through the process 8-12 times for a set and 3 sets for each session. Increase the number of sets per session as you gain more confidence and get familiar with the exercise

Long Arm Crunches

long arm crunches

This is another highly rated and one of the best abs exercises that can give you results, as rated by ACE. It is a variation of the traditional abdominal crunch. The difference is you stretch your arms above your head to increase the level of resistance on your abs.

Targets: Ab muscles, core muscles

Level: Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • Lie on an exercise mat.
  • Raise your hands, hold them together and extend them out behind your head, and close to your ears
  • Contract or pull in your abs and raise your shoulder blades from the floor to curl your abs. Your shoulders should come off the floor by a few inches as you curl your torso to crunch your abs. Keep your hands stretched over your head and do not move them forward during the process.
  • Lower your body to the starting position in slow motion.
  • Repeat up to 3 times for a set, and 12-16 sets per session.

Crunch with Heel Push

The crunch with heel push exercise is another variation of the traditional crunch. It requires pushing your heels into the floor. This engages the muscles of the rectus abdominis much more than it happens with the classic abdominal crunches

Targets: Ab muscles, core

Level: Beginner

Steps to Follow

  • Lie your back; bend your knees and support your head with your hands
  • Put your feet flat on the floor
  • Contract your abs and raise your shoulder blades. Do not put pressure on your neck or head.
  • As you get to the top of the crunch, push your heels into the floor, press your back against the floor and slightly lift your butts or glutes from the floor
  • Bring your lower back to the floor to complete a set
  • Repeat the cycle.

Ab Roller

ab roller exercise

Target: rectus abdominus
Level: Intermediate

NB: The exercise requires enough room with no obstructions in front of you. The length of the space should be, at least, equal to the height of your body.

Steps to Follow

  • Place the ab roller on the floor. Get on your knees behind the ab roller and grab the handles of the roller.
  • Contract your abs, and using your core, start rolling with your hands, arms and torso. Hold your abs tight, your hips steady, and contract your back muscles during the process. Also, keep your head down and facing forward.
  • Roll as far as you can till it feels like you will not be able to pull yourself back.
  • Hold that position for about 2-3 seconds. The longer you hold, the better
  • Return the ab roller to where you started by using your core muscles to roll it back. Do not use your hips when doing the backward roll. But you can use your arms, shoulders, and lats.
  • Proceed with caution and don’t rush. You may tear the tissues in your shoulders or dislocate them if you force things. Reduce the distance if you feel any pain in your shoulders and build up the range as you gain more confidence
  • Start by doing 1 set of 3-8 reps and aim to do 3 sets per session, 3 days in a week for 5 weeks.

Traditional Crunch

traditional crunches

The traditional or classic crunch is one of the best abs exercises for beginners

Target: rectus abdominus

Level: Beginner

Steps to Follow

  • Lie on your back using an exercise mat for support.
  • Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and a hip wide open
  • Grasp your hands behind your head, or place them across your chest
  • Keep your back relaxed and on the floor
  • Exhale and lift your shoulders off the floor to about 30 degrees. Keep your neck and head relaxed and your chin away from your chest.
  • Hold the position for about a second, inhale, and get back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 2 cycles and 8-12 sets per session.
  • Build it up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions as you get more fit and gain more confidence.

What to do next?

There are many abs exercises that you may want to try. But, my experience and the study by ACE show that only a few of them may be worth your time and effort if you are a beginner.

Thus, my advice is that you should concentrate on some of those we have listed. This is very important if you are doing the exercises away from the gym.

Follow the steps I have given to help you master the techniques and go through them. With time, effort and dedication, your hard work will start paying off.