Core Values: An Ab Workout -

Written by Craig Bongelli, featuring Mark Kaulius (photos by Arsenik Studios)

Looking for something new to spice up your routine? Well, here are six of the best ab blasting movements you should start including in your program. Keep in mind that it's important to rotate the movements and the order you perform them, change up your reps/supersets, and modify the workout in any way you can every four weeks to keep your body guessing.

Hanging Leg Lift

Rep Range: Good: 10 lifts per side Great: 20 lifts per side Grab a pull up bar (or jump into a captain’s chair) and make sure that, when you’re hanging, you relax your legs so they can fully extend directly beneath you. Next, contract your abs from the hang, as if you’re trying to tuck your tail bone under you, and use that continued contraction to lift your legs. To finish the rep, make sure you lower your legs slowly enough that they don’t cause you to swing. If your legs do swing (and it happens to everyone sometimes), just slow things down until you get the proper form.

Russian Twist

Rep Range: Good: 20 lifts per side, with no weight Great: 20 lifts per side, with a 15 lbs weight To start, sit down on the floor and find a position where you can balance with your torso as high as possible while holding your legs off the ground in front of you. Obviously, you’ll need some serious ab engagement to hold this position so make sure you maintain that tightness as you prepare to execute this movement. Once you’re in position, rotate as far to each side as possible. Use your obliques to pull you from side to side, as well as your abs to keep yourself balanced in a quasi-v seated position.

Dragon Flag

Rep Range: Good: 10 lifts Great: 10 lifts at half the speed Start by lying down on a bench or on the floor and put something behind you to anchor your body to. You can also use the leg of a power rack to give you a comfortable, stable grip. Curl your knees into your chest and then press them up in the air as straight and as high as you can. From here, slowly lower your legs down to the floor in front of you, while maintaining as much straightness in your legs and back as possible by bracing and resisting gravity with your abs.

Side Plank - Hip Lift

Rep Range: Good: 15 lifts Great: 25 lifts To start this move, assume a side plank position with your feet stacked and your upper body supported on your elbow and forearm. Make sure that your body is as straight and rigid as possible. Next, relax your obliques enough to reach down to the floor with your bottom hip and then retighten your core to pull your hips back up in line with the rest of your body. Focus on ensuring that just about all of the movement in this exercise comes from your hips.

Ab Wheel

Rep Range: Good: 10 lifts Great: 20 lifts Start with your knees on the ground, your hands on the wheel, and your ribcage flexed down towards your hips as if you were doing a crunch. From this position, slowly roll out forward, while ensuring that the wheel, your shoulders, and your hips all move at the same time and at the same distance. Roll forward as far as you can and as long as you can maintain the rib down position. You’ll be tempted to pull your ribs up as you go, but try to use your abs to make sure this doesn’t happen!


Rep Range: Good: 20 reps at 20% of your bodyweight Great: 20 reps at 30% of your bodyweight Start by using a landmine or any corner brace on one side of the bar and then lift the opposite side with any plates you need loaded on the end you’re lifting. Stand up tall with the bar in both hands in front of you so that it’s standing on one end at a 45-degree angle. Keeping your core braced tight, rotate the bar in a semi-circle in front of you from one hip to the other. Ensure that brace your abs and crunch into your obliques to initiate the movement in the bar. Also, avoid using momentum or your legs while performing this exercise.

Bonus Core Challenge!

Hollow Body Hang

In the mood for something extra? This deceptively easy movement only requires some rings and a stopwatch. All you have to do is jump up to the top position of a dip, flex your abs to hold a hollow body position, in which your feet are slightly in front of you, your back is slightly rounded, and your abs are extremely flexed, and hold it. The key to this movement is maintaining complete tightness and stillness from your toes to the top of your head. You might find that your core, triceps, or even your upper back give out on you first. One thing is for sure, though: as time progresses, so will your results in everything else you do!
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