Best Ab Workouts for Women: Core Strengthening (Must-Try)

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 23, 2023
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Toning and getting your stomach at least flat again is a tremendous challenge and requires a proper approach to achieve that goal in a reasonable amount of time.

If you properly implement these best ab workouts, you are highly likely to tone your stomach quickly, build a strong core, lose body fat across the whole body, and get those abs visible again.

As a certified personal trainer and after conducting a proper 22-hour research, I singled out the best ab workouts for women according to specific effectiveness criteria.

After reading the article, you will know how to perform all the ab exercises below, the proper dosage, rest intervals, and more.

Quick Summary

  • The best ab workouts for women include tabletop crunch and reach, crunch heel touches, crunch and reach, bicycle crunch, forearm plank, one-leg plank, mountain climbers, starfish crunch, and more.
  • The best way to keep your progress in strength and hypertrophy is to incorporate the principle of progressive overload, which is increasing the overall training volume and intensity each following workout.
  • To get those abs visible again, you must use a proper workout regime, get on the appropriate diet plan, take care of calorie intake, and consume a high-quality fat burner supplement that will help you lose fat quickly.

Best Ab Workouts for Women to Get a Toned Stomach

A woman doing ab workouts at a home gym

To get the most from every ab workout listed below, you must implement the so-called principle of progressive overload [1].

Incorporating the most effective abs exercises can significantly enhance your results.
This simply means raising the external resistance or making the exercise harder in some other way for every next workout to achieve better hypertrophy effects [2].

Also, you don’t want to overtrain your stomach since that can negatively affect toning and losing fat [3].

It is ideal for including a rest time of about 48 hours before two intense training sessions following the same muscle groups [4].

"You might not be a physique athlete chasing a six-pack, but even strength athletes need strong abs. A stable core will help you deadlift, squat, and bench press more weight. Like any other muscle in your body, you need to train your core for it to grow and get stronger. Of course, not all exercises are created equal."

- Mike Dewar, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Tabletop Crunch and Reach

Tabletop crunch and reach is an essential and very basic core exercise that follows a trunk flexion movement pattern and actively exercises your rectus abdominis along with other core muscles.

How to Perform a Tabletop Crunch and Reach

  1. Lie on the floor and bend your knees for about 90 degrees, so enter the starting crunch position.
  2. Your hips should also be bent for 90 degrees so your feet come off the floor and assume the same starting position as in the dead bug (this step entails transitioning from crunch to starting lower body dead bug position).
  3. Place your palms behind your head by abducting the shoulders and flexing your elbows.
  4. Ensure your lumbar spine isn’t too off the ground, creating lumbar lordosis during the whole movement.
  5. Start the exercise by performing a crunch and caving your elbows slightly inward.
  6. You should feel the tension in your stomach during the whole movement.
  7. Return to the ground by reversing the motion and repeat 11 more times.
  8. Perform 3-4 sets and rest less than a minute between the sets.

2. Crunch Heel Touches

A person doing crunch heel touches

Crunch heel touches are the ideal abs muscle exercises to build your rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and internal and external obliques.

How to Perform Crunch Heel Touches

  1. Lie on any flat surface with enough width to fit your whole back, hips, and leg muscles.
  2. Bend your knees for about 90 degrees so your hip, knees, and ankles create a starting bent position, such as in the regular crunch exercise.
  3. Keep your arms extended overhead at the beginning of the exercise and ensure your lumbar spine isn’t too far from the floor and creating excessive lordosis.
  4. Start the exercise by adducting your arms and simultaneously performing the crunch with your upper body.
  5. Touch your heels with both your hands and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 15 heel touches, rest for as little as possible, and perform three more sets.

Related: How To Do Heel Touches

3. Crunch and Reach

Crunch and reach is an excellent lower and upper body core exercise. It entails lower body isometric contraction from your hip flexors and builds superior concentric and eccentric strength in the upper body flexing motion.

How to Perform Crunch and Reach

  1. Start in the lying position with your knees fully extended and hips bent for exactly 90 degrees so your feet look directly to the ceiling above you.
  2. Keep your lumbar spine fixed on the ground and avoid rounding or extending your back during any position in the whole movement.
  3. Start the exercise by raising your arms with your torso to touch yours with your fingers.
  4. When your reach the top position, slowly reverse the motion by controlling the lowering portion of the movement with your abdominal muscles.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps, 4 sets, and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.

4. Bicycle Crunch

A person doing a bicycle crunch

The bicycle crunch is more of a dynamic core exercise that is excellent for building a strong core and burning extra calories.

How to Perform a Bicycle Crunch

  1. Start lying where your hands are behind your head and your legs slightly bent in your knees and hips.
  2. At the same time, pull your left elbow towards the right leg/knee while rotating the right arm and extending your left foot/leg.
  3. Always switch between the left arm and right arm and change the legs extended.
  4. Perform alternating 30 repetitions before resting for 45 seconds.
  5. Repeat for 5 sets in total.

5. Forearm Plank

Forearm plank is a fundamental core strengthening exercise that has many variations and is among the best forearm exercises. You can always switch between the forearm and arms straight plank. In addition, changing the position of your feet from dorsiflexion to making your feet flat in plantarflexion is also an option.

How to Perform a Forearm Plank

  1. Start in the front plank position with elbows placed against the ground and feet in slight dorsal flexion to create better stability.
  2. Keep your abs muscles contracted throughout the movement and don’t sag your butt or extend your lumbar spine excessively.
  3. Hold the forearm front plank position for about 45 seconds and repeat for as many sets as you like but rest for as little as possible between the sets.

Also Read: Best Forearm Dumbbell Exercises

6. One Leg Plank

A person doing one leg plank workouts

One leg plank is one of the best ab exercises because it will challenge your stabilizer muscles and core strength.

How to Perform a One-Leg Plank

  1. Start in the regular push-up position and then transition to your elbows like in the forearm plank exercise.
  2. Keep your upper body flat, legs straight, and knees bent or fully extended according to your preferences (it is better to keep them fully extended).
  3. Start the exercise by lifting your left leg off the floor while keeping your hips fully neutral without shifting to the other side.
  4. Switch the legs on every couple of seconds and repeat on time for 30 seconds straight.
  5. Repeat for a couple of sets and rest for 1 minute between each set.

7. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are an excellent dynamic core exercise that will build a lot of core strength and endurance and burn significant calories.

How to Perform Mountain Climbers

  1. Start in the push-up position with your knees extended, hips neutral, back flat, and elbows extended under your shoulders.
  2. Start the exercise by lifting your right knee towards the chest and quickly returning it.
  3. When your right knee returns to the starting position, immediately bring your left leg forward with the same principles.
  4. Repeat this alternate knee-raising movement for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and perform 2-3 more sets.

8. Starfish Crunch

A person doing starfish crunch workouts

Starfish crunch is an interesting core exercise that will challenge your obliques and rectus abdominis.

How to Perform a Starfish Crunch

  1. Start in the lying “starfish” position with your hands abducted for more than 90 degrees and legs for about 45 degrees each.
  2. Start the exercise by raising your trunk and connecting your right hand and left leg.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat the same with the left hand and right leg.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps on each side, 4 sets, and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.

9. Russian Twist

Russian twists are great for building rotational trunk strength and endurance and exercising your obliques.

How to Perform Russian Twists

  1. Pick a medicine ball of appropriate weight to perform at least 15 twists on each side without pausing.
  2. Start in the crunch position by sitting on the floor with your trunk slightly flexed back and hips and knees bent to have a firm grip on the ground.
  3. Lift the feet from the floor and start with twists on each side.
  4. Ensure the medicine ball almost touches the floor on each rep to maximize the rotation you create and tension in your obliques.
  5. Repeat for 15 reps on each side, 3 sets, and rest for as little as possible between the sets.

"Many of the conversations surrounding the abs can be oddly polarizing. Some prefer to think of them as wasted training time, others like to overemphasize their core with near obsessive volume. The truth, of course, is that optimal abdominal training lies somewhere in between, but understanding the how and why of effective core training is what ensures a proper return on your investment."

- Eric Bugera, Certified Personal Trainer

10. Dead Bug

A person doing dead bug workouts

The dead bug is a great exercise for beginners unless you perform it with small dumbbells, which significantly increases the difficulty of this core exercise.

How to Perform a Dead Bug

  1. Start by lying on the floor with your arms near your body and legs straight.
  2. Place your arms in an extended position towards the ceiling by bending your shoulders and extending the elbows.
  3. Bend your hips 90 degrees and create a 90-degree angle between your hamstrings and calves.
  4. Start the exercise by extending your right hand above your head and lowering the left leg simultaneously.
  5. Reverse the motion by lifting the right hand and leg back to the starting position of the exercise.
  6. Repeat the same motion with the left hand and right leg down and up to complete one rep.
  7. Repeat this for 15 reps, 3 sets, and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.


Which Is the Most Effective Ab Exercise?

The most effective ab exercise is the weighted crunch. All crunch variations will effectively target the majority of your core muscles and increase the hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles.

How Can Women Tone Abs Fast?

A woman can tone her abs fast by performing ab exercises for women specifically programmed to induce hypertrophy effects. Exercise your upper body ab muscles at different angles, intensities, and volumes to get the most benefit.

Can a Girl Get Abs in 30 Days?

Yes, a girl can get abs in 30 days. To get abs in about 30 days, you must regularly perform an ab workout that focuses on targeting the entire core, and you also must correct your calorie intake and diet plan to support fat loss and muscle-building effects.

Do Planks Give You Abs?

Yes, planks give you abs. Even though the plank position will effectively keep your core engaged for a prolonged period, you still need to implement other core exercise variations to support your ab development.

How Many Months Does It Take To Tone Abs?

It takes about a month or a little more to tone your abs. However, you can’t tone your abs by just performing the same old forearm plank position, and you will need to take your diet, supplementation, and calorie intake seriously to see results fast.

How Can I Tone and Flatten My Stomach Fast?

You can tone and flatten your stomach fast by consuming a high-quality fat burner strictly made for women.

If you implement enough entire body workouts, ab exercises, and proper diet, then the only thigh left which can further help you tone your stomach is consuming an effective and previously tested fat burner supplement.

Read our guide on the best fat burners for women to pick the best one that suits your goals and needs.

Let me know what your favorite ab workout exercise is and why.


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