9 Best Six Pack Ab Exercises You Can Do Without Equipment

Working out your core is often overlooked in fitness routines, maybe because that satisfying burn from ab exercises is hard to beat. To simplify things, here are nine ab exercises you can do at home without any fancy equipment.

Traditional ab training usually doesn’t require much gear, focusing more on burning those muscles than perfecting each rep. There used to be a belief that targeting specific areas would help lose fat, but thanks to modern sports science, we now know that’s not true. You can’t spot reduce fat.

However, we can learn from past fitness mistakes. These bodyweight ab exercises are excellent for building core muscles, and you can easily do them at home with no equipment.

1. Crunch

The standard crunch is usually done on the floor, but for a more comfortable experience, you can try doing it on an exercise or yoga mat.

Here’s how to do a crunch:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and cross your arms over your chest.
  4. Tighten your abs and breathe in.
  5. Breathe out and lift your upper body off the floor, while keeping your head and neck relaxed.
  6. Breathe in and slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Start with 3 sets of 10 to 20 crunches, and as you get stronger, you can increase the number of reps.

Remember, a crunch isn’t the same as a sit-up. Focus on contracting your abs without bringing your entire torso up towards your knees.

2. Plank

To make your core strong, add the plank to your ab workout. Here’s how:

  1. Start by getting into the plank position.
  2. Lie face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders, and your forearms facing forward.
  3. Keep your head relaxed, looking at the floor.
  4. Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button toward your spine.
  5. Keep your body in a straight line from your ears to your toes, without sagging or bending.
  6. Make sure your shoulders are down, not up near your ears, and your heels are over the balls of your feet.
  7. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then release to the floor.
  8. Gradually increase the time you hold the plank, aiming for 30, 45, or 60 seconds over time.

Start with 3 sets of 30 seconds, and as you improve, increase the duration. Rest for the same amount of time you worked.

To make it more challenging, you can move your elbows slightly forward or add weight on your back. A backpack works well for this.

3. Heel Taps

Heel taps are great for your abs, and doing them right is important for safety. Follow these steps:

  1. Sit comfortably with bent knees and flat feet on the floor.
  2. Keep your arms by your sides, back straight, and knees pointing up.
  3. Tighten your abs while exhaling, lifting your head and upper back off the ground.
  4. Crunch to the right as you bring your right hand down to tap your right heel.
  5. Stand up tall and exhale after tapping your heel.
  6. Inhale and switch to the left, tapping your left heel with your hand.
  7. Repeat, switching sides until completing the set.

Start with 3 sets of 30 reps for each heel, and increase as you improve.

Remember to lightly contract your abs and obliques to keep your upper body slightly off the ground, reducing friction and enhancing effectiveness.

4. Leg Raises

To work on your upper and lower abs and boost core strength, try leg raises. You don’t need any fancy equipment—just find a comfy spot on a yoga mat or soft surface. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended on a yoga mat.
  2. Place your arms alongside your body or lightly press your hands into the floor. You can also grab onto something stable like a bench.
  3. Activate your transverse abdominis by pulling in your belly button, like trying to press your lower back into the ground. Exhale and slowly lift your legs.
  4. Lift your legs until they reach a 90-degree angle from the floor, and your lower back starts to come off the ground. Pause here and finish your exhale.
  5. As you gradually lower your legs, inhale and make sure to keep your lower back in contact with the floor.
  6. When you reach the end of the movement, let your feet hover above the floor. The key is to maintain contact between your lower back and the ground while keeping your core engaged.

Start with 15 controlled repetitions, and aim for 2 to 4 sets. Leg raises can be challenging for your lower abs, but the results are totally worth the effort.

5. Mountain Climbers

The mountain climber is a great exercise to strengthen your core and improve athleticism. Here’s how to do it easily:

  1. Get into a high plank position, like you’re about to do a pushup. Hands below your shoulders, elbows out, and feet a bit wider than your hips.
  2. Squeeze your shoulders, core, and glutes to make your whole body tight. Look down at the floor.
  3. Lift one knee up towards your chest, like you’re running.
  4. Straighten your leg and then do the same with the other leg.
  5. Keep switching legs, trying to keep your body in a straight line. Make sure your shoulders are higher than your hips. Keep your core tight.

Start with 20 reps on each leg, and do 4 sets. Do these with some speed but stay in control. This is a great way to finish off your ab workout and improve your overall fitness.

6. Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is a bit more advanced than the regular crunch, and it’s great for working your abs and obliques.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Put your arms behind your head with your elbows pointing outward.
  2. Tighten your abs, lift your knees to a 90-degree angle, and raise your upper body. This is your starting position.
  3. Exhale as you twist your trunk, bringing your right elbow and left knee toward each other. At the same time, straighten your right leg. Hold for a moment.
  4. Inhale and return to the starting position.
  5. Exhale again, this time moving your left elbow toward your right knee while extending your left leg. Pause. This completes one repetition.

Remember, keep your lower back on the floor and your shoulders away from your ears to avoid straining. Rotate from your core, not your neck or hips.

Try doing 3 sets of 30 reps. It’s best to perform the exercise with a quick pace, but always maintain full control over your movements.

7. Pike Crunch

Pike crunches are great for making your core strong by bending forward. This exercise targets the rectus abdominis muscles. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Lie on your back with both feet up in the air.
  2. Contract your abs, lift your shoulder blades off the floor, and reach your arms overhead towards your toes.
  3. Lower back down to the floor and reach your arms overhead for another full repetition.

Do this for 4 sets of 10 reps.

A common mistake is not reaching enough. Make sure to reach so far that your shoulder blades lift off the floor. Avoid a small movement that may cause your lower back to arch. Keep your lower back on the floor for proper support.

8. Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is a tough core exercise that mainly targets your six-pack muscles, known as the rectus abdominis. It’s a simple exercise suitable for both beginners and fitness enthusiasts. Here’s how you can do a reverse crunch with good form:

  1. Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms by your sides with palms facing down.
  2. Breathe out and engage your core. Lift your feet off the ground, raising your thighs until they’re straight up. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees throughout.
  3. Bring your knees toward your face, lifting your hips and lower back off the ground. Only go as far as comfortable without lifting your mid-back from the mat.
  4. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower your feet back down toward the floor.
  5. Repeat for at least 10-12 reps. Start with one set and increase reps and sets as you build strength.

A good goal is 3 sets of 15 reps.

Take your time with this exercise. Don’t expect to do high reps right away, especially if you’re maintaining proper form.

9. Hollow Hold

Doing a hollow hold is like making your body into a banana. You lift your arms, legs, and head off the ground and stay like that for about 20 seconds or more. This exercise is tough and really works your abs.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with arms stretched overhead and legs straight on the floor.
  2. Lift your arms, head, shoulder blades, and legs off the floor at the same time.
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then go back to the starting position. Rest for 10 seconds.

Start with 20 seconds for 3 sets. As you get better, you can increase the time and aim for a 1:1 work-rest ratio. Your abs will feel the burn!

The Bottom Line

Working on your ab muscles offers many health benefits. It is good for your posture, balance, and can prevent sports injuries. Aim for three sets of ab exercises, two to three times a week.

But remember, it’s crucial to balance ab workouts with other strength exercises. Strengthen your entire core by including back exercises. Your core includes the area from your shoulders to the tops of your legs.

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