Do These 8 Core Exercises If You Want Six-Pack Abs

Standard crunches will only get you so far. Try these other core exercises to make your ab muscles pop.


Ahh, those coveted, drool-worthy six-pack abs. While it’s true that abs are made in the kitchen (for most part of it), there are certain core exercises you can do to get those ab muscles to show.

And no, just doing normal crunches won’t cut it.

Sara May, trainer at Triplefit. Photo: Frenchescar Lim

“To get definition in your abs, focus on the obliques. Working your side abdominals gives the illusion of a smaller waist, and also lets those sexy muscle lines show,” says Sara May, a Triplefit trainer who won second place in the 2017 WFF Asia Pacific Championships, a bodybuilding-bikini competition.

Here, she reveals her top core exercises for strong, sculpted abs.

(Also read: 8 Effective TRX Exercises to Tone Your Whole Body)

The Plan

Do the following exercises in a slow, controlled manner for 2 minutes each. Aim for as many good reps as possible. Repeat the entire set. For best results, do these core exercises thrice a week, after a high-intensity interval training workout.

Rest time: 30 seconds between each exercise, 60 seconds between sets

1. V sit-ups

Targets front core

2 minutes

Start in seated position with knees bent and feet off ground. Keep chest open and lifted, and extend arms in front of you. This is similar to boat pose in yoga. Slowly lower torso and legs towards ground without touching it. As you lower, extend arms overhead and straighten legs till they hover at about 15cm above ground. Head and shoulders should be off the ground. In a continuous motion, engage core to return to starting position. Continue for 2 minutes.

2. Bicycle crunches

Targets obliques

2 minutes

Lie down with lower back pressed to the ground. Put hands behind head, then bring left knee in towards chest and lift shoulder blades off ground. Bring right elbow to left knee by turning upper body to the left. Repeat move on other side to complete one rep. Avoid pulling neck or swinging elbows. Continue for 2 minutes.

(Also read: 6 Exercises That Tone Your Tummy More Effectively Than Sit-Ups)

3. Twisting side plank

Targets obliques

1 minute each side

Get into side plank: Place left palm on ground, straighten legs and lift hips off ground. Body should be in a straight line, and palm slightly beyond left shoulder. Extend right arm towards ceiling to start. Engage core and draw belly towards spine as you twist torso towards ground. Keep body aligned as you return to starting position. Continue for 1 minute, then switch sides.

4. Opposite arm & leg extension

Targets front core and lower back

2 minutes

Get into tabletop position: Hands are directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips. Engaging core, lift right arm and left leg off ground, extending them in opposite directions. Return to tabletop position. Repeat move on other side. Continue alternating sides for 2 minutes.

5. Walking plank

Trains balance and works core stabilisers

2 minutes

Start in high plank: Hands are directly under shoulders as you squeeze glutes and tuck tailbone in. Lower left elbow to ground, followed by right elbow, as if doing forearm plank. Then, place left hand on ground, followed by right hand, to push yourself back up into high plank. Avoid shifting hips. Continue for 2 minutes, alternating sides.

(Also read: 20 Ways to Do Planks & Challenge Your Core Muscles)

6. Side crunches

Targets obliques

1 minute each side

Lie down and rotate body to the left. Using left arm to support, lift legs off ground and straighten them to start. In a smooth motion, lift torso off ground, bend knees, and bring chest towards knees while facing the same direction. Lower torso and legs until they almost touch the ground, then lift again for another rep. Continue for 1 minute, then switch sides.

7. Leg press-ups

Targets lower abs

2 minutes

Lie facing up, arms straightened beside you. Raise and straighten legs at 90-degree angle to start. Contracting abs, lift legs, hips and torso towards ceiling in a swift motion. Slowly lower torso and hips, without letting legs touch ground. Continue for 2 minutes.

8. Superman

Works glutes

2 minutes

Lying face-down, lift upper body and legs slightly off ground to start. Squeeze glutes as you lift arms and legs at the same time, as high as possible. Lower to ground and repeat for 2 minutes. Look down and keep neck in neutral position throughout.

(Also read: 12 Best Cool-Down Exercises to Do After Any Workout)

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