Tone and enhance your lower abdominals with this simple yet effective workout. These exercises aren’t just for helping to flatten your stomach. They can also help to firm up the muscles that contribute to overall health, posture and balance.
You can practice these weight-free movements anywhere – at home, in the gym and even outdoors.
Grab an exercise mat and you’re ready to get started.
For this workout, you’ll do 12 reps per exercise. Once you’ve completed all of the exercises, that counts as one cycle. Continue until you’ve finished three cycles.
Note: For the isometric heel raise, hold each cycle for 30 seconds.
1. BOAT CRUNCHES
- Lie on your back, then lift your feet and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Lift your upper body off the ground with your arms outstretched, hands by your feet.
- Squeeze your knees together. Slowly straighten your legs out as you simultaneously lengthen your spine and lean back.
- Hover your shoulders and feet above the ground as you lower them.
Pro Tip: If this is too challenging, modify by keeping your knees bent – you’ll still be working your core.
2. TRADITIONAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
- Start in a plank position with your shoulders in line with your wrists.
- Lift your right foot off the floor and pull your knee as close to your chest as you can.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
- Move faster for more intensity.
Pro Tip: Do your best to keep your core engaged. This will keep you from dipping your lower back.
3. CROSSBODY MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
- From a plank position, lift your right foot off the floor and pull your knee to the opposite triceps.
- Return your right leg to your starting position.
- Lift your left foot off the floor and bring it toward your right triceps.
- Return to your starting point and continue to alternate sides.
- Make sure your shoulders are in line with your wrists.
Pro Tip: Similar to traditional mountain climbers, try to keep your core engaged when performing this exercise. Doing so will keep you from dipping your lower back or rounding it.
4. REVERSE HIP RAISE
- Lie on your back with your palms facing down. For more support, place your hands under your hips.
- Start with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise your hips off the floor and straighten your legs as you crunch them toward your chest.
- Make sure to keep control so your hip raises aren’t swinging your legs up.
- Lower your straightened legs until your heels nearly touch the floor.
- Repeat by bringing them back to the 90-degree angle.
Pro Tip: Keep your range of motion small to focus the work on your lower core.
5. DOUBLE CRUNCH
- Lie on your back. Lift your legs straight to the ceiling and flex your feet.
- Raise your arms, then engage your abs to lift both your shoulders and hips off the ground.
- Reach your fingers toward your toes.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
Pro Tip: It’s OK if you can’t quite reach your toes. It’s more important to keep the movements small and controlled.
6. SCISSOR LIFTS
- Lie on your back. Extend your arms so they’re against the sides of your body and flat on the ground.
- Press your palms into the floor and lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling.
- Keep your core pulled down and in. Then slowly lower your right leg down until it hovers a few inches about the ground and keep your left leg positioned straight up.
- Slowly switch and repeat.
Pro Tip: If you need more support for your lower back, make a diamond shape with your hands and place them under your hips.
7. FLUTTER KICKS
- Lie on your back. With your hands by your sides, press down through your arms and pull in your belly button. For more support, you can place your hands under your hips in a diamond shape.
- Raise your legs off the ground a few inches and alternate up-and-down kicks.
Pro Tip: You can lift your shoulders off the ground and look up at your feet for personal comfort.
8. SCISSOR KICKS
- Lie on your back. Press down through your arms and pull in your belly button. For more support, place your hands under your hips.
- Raise your legs off the ground a few inches and cross one ankle over the other, alternating sides.
Pro Tip: You can look up at your feet with your shoulders off the ground but avoid straining your neck.
- Lie on your back and extend your arms above your head.
- Lift your legs and upper body into a “V” position and slowly lower your body back to the starting point.
- Aim to have your fingers reach your toes or shins.
- Maintain a firm core and keep your legs straight throughout the exercise.
Pro Tip: To modify, lower your legs and arms halfway, rather than all the way to the floor.
10. ISOMETRIC HEEL RAISE
- Lie on your back with your feet flat.
- Pull your low belly down and in, then lift your heels no more than two inches off the floor.
- Hover your feet above the ground while you hold the position.
Pro Tip: Keep your feet as close to the floor as you can. You should feel the low belly engage. Lift your feet too high and the workout becomes ineffective.
For more bodyweight exercises, try this strength training workout you can do without weights.