12 Great Ab Workouts for the Beginner

Ab Workouts
27 Jan

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Michael Brockbank

Who doesn’t want abs of steel? Although it takes a great deal of effort to get to that point, there are plenty of ab workouts that can get you started. Today, let’s look at some of the best ab exercises perfect for beginners.

Before we get started, though, keep in mind that you’ll need a proper diet if you want to see that six-pack in the mirror. All of us technically have ab muscles hiding behind all those layers on the stomach.

It is quite possible you may already have a shredded appearance. Keep the carbs low and the activity high to show them off.

12 Ab Workouts Anyone Can Do

Core Muscles

Your core is one of the more vital elements of your body. Without the abdominal, back, and oblique muscles, you’d flop around like a wet noodle. Not to mention how all of these muscles help stabilize you when performing virtually any activity on your feet.

So, don’t merely approach an ab workout for the sake of showing off muscles at the beach. Also consider the real-life effects having a strong core will make on your quality of life.

Don’t assume that you’ll instantly see results in merely a week. Depending on what you eat, your unique physiology, the intensity of the workout, and other factors, it could take a few months before you really see some amazing results.

1. Lying Leg Raise

The lying leg raise is a relatively basic exercise. Essentially, you’ll lay on your back and simply lift your feet up off the floor.

This particular exercise primarily activates the lower abdominal muscles. However, you’ll start to feel it in the upper areas, quads, and other secondary groups with more repetitions.

One way I increase the difficulty of these ab workouts is by adding ankle weights. Even adding as much as one pound can increase the intensity of the lying leg raise.

2. Knee Pull-In

A knee pull-in is similar to the lying leg raise above. The biggest difference is that your legs are bent at a 90° angle and brought up toward your chest.

There are actually a couple of ways to do these exercises. You can lay flat with your back on the floor or you can sit up a bit to bring in your knees.

Either one of these methods is easy, and you can crank up the difficulty, again, by wearing ankle weights.

3. Plank

Another one of the easiest and best ab workouts is the plank. In this exercise, you’re simply keeping yourself held up from the floor for as long as you can.

Planks are versatile ab workouts and have several variations to suit a wide range of needs and wants. Though, I normally just stick with the basic plank unless I’m playing on the Stealth Board.

Well, I also like the Spider-Man Plank, but that’s because I have a superhero complex.

In the earlier days, I thought the plank was a dumb activity, thanks to the “plank challenge” that was going around. Nowadays, it’s one of my basic go-to exercises.

4. Swiss Ball Plank

One of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment is the Spri Stability Ball (Swiss or Exercise Ball). These balls give you all kinds of possibilities, which include the plank.

There are a couple of ways you can do a plank from a stability ball. You can either place your feet on the ball and plank by extending your arms to the floor. Or, you can stand with your knees and place your elbows on the ball to lower yourself to a 45° angle.

Using your knees on the floor is the easiest method simply because it shifts your body weight back similar to an incline push-up. This reduces the impact but is also a great place to start if you’ve never done a plank in the past.

5. Swiss Ball Jackknife

Another great ball exercise is the swiss ball jackknife. It’s a bit more difficult simply because you’ll need to work on balance. However, it’s effective if you’re looking for ab workouts.

In this instance, you’ll place your feet on the ball while bracing yourself, hands down on the floor. Then, you roll the ball toward your chest and back out again.

Don’t worry if you have a hard time gaining stability at first. It took me several attempts before I could balance myself well enough on the ball to get in about 10 to 15 reps.

6. Sit-Up

One of the easiest of all ab workouts is the basic sit-up. Humans have been doing these for centuries for a reason. It’s something you can do virtually anywhere and have probably done so during gym class in school.

During a sit-up, all you’re doing is lifting your body up from the floor up toward your knees. You can’t get more basic than that.

Like a lot of exercises on this list, though, you can always increase the difficulty. Holding on to weights or twisting at the top are two of the more common methods.

7. Air Bicycle

There are two ways you can do an air bicycle. The first method is to lay flat on your back while keeping both feet slightly above the floor. Then, bring one knee up to your chest. Put that leg down and bring up the other knee. Essentially, you’re pedaling a bike in mid-air.

The more difficult method is to meet your knees with your elbows. You do this by placing your hands behind your head with your elbows out. When you bring in your right knee, bring your left elbow up and meet it halfway. Then, do the same for your left knee and right elbow.

This delivers a twisting motion that works the abs as well as the obliques in the same exercise.

8. Scissor Kick

An exceptionally easy ab exercise is the scissor kick. Like the lying leg raise, scissor kicks are primarily working out the lower abdominal muscles.

In these ab workouts, you lay on your back and bring your legs up off the floor. Then, “scissor” your legs up and down in mid-air. To add a bit more umph to the exercise, you can also bring in both feet when you move them up and down.

Although this exercise primarily activates the lower abs, it’s also good for the legs and hips.

9. Dead Bug

I’ve been doing dead bug ab workouts since I weighed more than 300 pounds. It’s a simple core exercise that includes the legs and arms.

Laying on your back, you bring up your knees and legs to a 90° angle. Then, you stretch your arms up and point them at the ceiling. Once in this position, stretch out your right leg to point it away from your body while at the same time dropping your left arm to point out in the same fashion.

Bring them both back to the starting position and then do the same thing with your left leg and right arm.

10. Swimming

Swimming is kind of like the Swiss Army Knife of exercises. It’ll work out virtually every muscle in your body while being a near-zero-impact workout. This is great for people with injuries or joint problems.

You can do a variety of ab workouts in the pool ranging from leg raises to crunches. Or, simply actively swimming will cause every muscle group in your core to activate.

Because the water is supporting your weight, it’s probably one of the easiest ways to start with a long list of exercises. It’ll help strengthen muscles while improving stamina.

11. Ab Crunch Machine (GYM)

The ab crunch machine is among my favorite machines at the gym. In my case, I’ll do 3 sets at 20 reps each while crunching more than 125 pounds. However, I’ve been doing these for a very long time.

While there is nothing wrong with doing the basic crunch on the floor, using the machine gives you added resistance from the weights. This can increase the overall intensity of the workout for your abs while giving you a safe platform.

Start off with a lower weight on the ab crunch machine until you find your limit. Remember, you’re only in competition with yourself.

12. Virtually Any Cardio Activity

Virtually any cardio activity will help you burn away the fat that is deposited around your core. As I said earlier, we all have abdominal muscles that are used to keep us sitting and standing upright. How pronounced they are greatly depends on the layers of fat covering them.

If you keep physically active while on a low-carb diet, you’ll easily see ab muscles without doing any of the above workouts. Though, they’ll be far more pronounced if you do.

Personally, I’ll combine cardio activity with weight training throughout the week. I want to lose the last of my weight while adding a bit more muscle mass. But that’s my preference.

Everyone will have different needs and wants.

Why Ab Workouts Are Important

Plank Ab Workouts

A lot of people don’t put effort into core workouts or cardio exercises. In fact, I’ve seen a plethora of men at the gym who have ripped biceps but a barrel for a gut. This is fine if that’s the look and strength you want.

However, the ab muscles do more than just give you a washboard to show off at the beach.

Your core provides everything from stability and balance to protecting your spine from injury. It’s the group of muscles that all things connect to and will impact virtually every exercise you do whether you’re weight training or running a mile.

I know I have fewer lower back pains if I maintain a regular routine of using the lower back extension machine at Planet Fitness.

When you consider how men store fat as they get older, ab workouts and cardio activity become more apparent. Exercises such as the ones I listed above help men combat abdominal visceral fat, which is the fat stored deep within the core.

Virtually every activity you’ll perform on your feet will require the use of your core muscles in some fashion. And a large portion of activities when laying down will as well.

Something else to consider is how a healthy body is more resilient. You’re less likely to get sick while being less likely to suffer injuries from a slew of situations.

I know I activated my core by simply hanging Christmas lights along the roof of the house.

You Diet is Ultra Important for Showing Off Abs

If you’re eager to impress onlookers with a ripped six-pack, you’ll need to adjust your diet. A lot of experts say, “abs are made in the kitchen.” This means it’s what you eat that will have the greatest impact.

As I said, your abs are in constant use as it is. The only reason why you might not see them in the mirror is that your body fat percentage is a bit too high.

For the most part, abs become visible for most men when under 15% body fat. And perhaps one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through a high-protein, low-carb diet.

That’s because carbs that your body doesn’t utilize for energy are stored as fat to be used at a later date. This is why keto, fasting, and many other low-carb-intake diets are so popular.

Essentially, these types of diets force your body to use that fat for energy. The more active you are, the quicker you’ll burn through that fat.

However, you don’t necessarily need to be on keto or fasting in order to reach under 15% body fat. Simply eating better and reducing your carb intake will eventually uncover that six-pack of your dreams.

On the other hand, a proper diet and regular ab workouts will make those muscles more pronounced in a shorter time.

Also, keep in mind that your overall genetics will contribute to showing abs. Some people are simply more apt at muscle development thanks to specific physiological traits.

What Ab Workouts Are Your Favorite?

While I have done all of the ab workouts in the list above, my favorite is by far the ab machine at the gym. However, planks and anything on the Swiss Ball are a very close second.

It all really comes down to what exercises you like and whether you’re consistent. With a proper diet and a routine workout schedule, you can accomplish quite a bit for yourself. And the more interested you are in the exercise, the more likely you’ll continue for the long term.

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