10 Ab Exercises That Don't Feel Like Hard Work

by Rebecca Gonsalves

We've all seen them, those odd little online adverts that promise to reveal the secret of burning belly fat to you in return for a click. But the truth behind how to tone your tummy is sadly not quite that easy. 

While there's no miracle fix (yet) to achieving a flat stomach and taut abs, there are plenty of ab exercises that you can incorporate into your regular routine in order to start building that six-pack. And while some might seem a bit too advanced or choreographed, there are still plenty of gentle but effective moves if you're a total beginner. 

Strengthening your core isn't just about looking great in a crop top—it can have a brilliant effect on the rest of your body, helping to stabilise your every move and improve your balance. But as with most exercise, it's best to gradually build up to your end goal—so don't lose faith if you can't see a difference immediately. And remember, you can't target specific spots for weight loss, but regular cardio and a healthy diet will help you lose any excess weight, better revealing the toned muscles you worked so hard to build. 

Read on for some seriously toned Instagram inspiration

Medicine Ball Circuit

When she wants to focus on the abs, Jeanette Jenkins adds a medicine ball circuit to her workout. And as personal trainer to Serena Williams, Kelly Rowland and Jordana Brewster, she knows what she’s talking about. Working through this series of moves—including ab tucks, push-ups and jackknifes—three times, the extra resistance provided by the brilliantly lo-fi medicine ball will help tone your tummy even faster.



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As a former personal trainer to Madonna and Broadway dancer, Nicole Winhoffer has a lot to teach us about amazing abs. Crunches like the butterfly—where you bring your knees together and lift your upper body at the same time—will work your upper abs brilliantly. 



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Remember how much fun you used to have skipping in the playground? Well, it’s also an amazing way to condition your whole body, especially your abs, which will contract to stabilise your jumping. Follow DJ and founder of HBFIT.com, Hannah Bronfman’s, lead and mix up your swing. Keep the action in your wrists, rather than arms.


Planking is seriously good for your core and you can do it pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It’s a simple exercise, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Focus on your form and make sure your core is engaged; otherwise you'll just be putting unwanted pressure on your shoulders and arms. If you’re a beginner start with a bent knee pose and work your way up to straightened legs. 



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While Kayla Itsines is an advocate of working your whole body rather than focussing on just one area, the bikini body guru knows how much of a difference a flat stomach can make to your confidence and progress. Twists are a really important part of tummy-toning, ensuring your side oblique muscles are strengthened as well as the abs in the centre.

Side Planks


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Once you've mastered regular planks, if you want to increase the challenge, try working in side planks which will make your body work harder to keep itself stable. To really push things up a notch incorporate arm and leg raises. Just be sure that your core is engaged at all times to make the most of this body-weight exercise.

Single-Leg Crunches


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There are countless ways to modify crunches, most of which involve incorporating leg lifts or movements, which will ramp up the difficulty level and work your lower as well as upper abdominal muscles.

Mountain Climbers


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Mountain climbers are dreaded by even the most enthusiastic HIIT-ers, but in this case the pain is definitely worth the gain. They'll strengthen your abdominals and burn fat at the same time, helping you achieve your flat stomach goals in double-quick time.

Box Jumps


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Jumping is a great core challenge as your abs will automatically engage to keep you upright and balanced. Begin with a box that's no more than three feet tall, and really concentrate on getting your form right before you start adding any more height.

Deadlift Burpees

Regular burpees tone pretty much your whole body, including your abs. But with a little bit of modification, they become super-strengtheners. Incorporating a deadlift into your reps is all about keeping your core engaged as you work the weights, tightening and strengthening those deep abdominal muscles. 

Ready for more? Check out Kayla Itsines favourite workout of all time!

Opening Image: @NatalieUhling/Zara

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