Sportive young lady doing crisscross crunch exercise lying on a rug at modern studio.

It used to be my arms, but my stomach is my new target area of choice. I never thought it was possible to have abs, but after a 24-week workout program I started seeing more definition in my stomach and now I’m hooked.
I have to preface all of this with a caveat: no amount of exercise will help you if you aren’t eating right, but doing the exercises listed below will target your stomach muscles and give you a stronger, more toned core.
Here are five exercises you can do work your core:

High plank

Shot of a strong young woman doing pushups alone in the gym
This is probably the plank variation that you are most familiar with, but it isn’t the only one! For this, position yourself as if you’re about to crawl on your hands and knees, then, lift your knees so that all your weight is being supported by your hands and your toes. If you haven’t done this before, it’s recommend doing it in front of mirror so that you can watch your posture. You want your body to be in one long line from your head down to the heels of your feet, so you’ll need to tuck your core in right and make sure your back doesn’t start to curve (it’s painful and bad for your back). Hold the plank for a few seconds. Start with 10 or 15, as you grow more comfortable grade up to 30 seconds or a full minute.

Russian twists

Woman With Ball Working Out To Fitness DVD On TV In Bedroom
I hate these – but they’re great for activating the muscles in your lower stomach. Sit upright on a mat or a towel on the floor, and bend your knees so that your thighs are elevated and your feet are flat on the ground. Slowly start to lean back until you feel a pull in your lower stomach muscles, your back is at around a 45 degree angle from the floor, and your feet are slightly elevated off the ground. Holding a dumbbell or barbell weight (keep it light!) at chest level, rotate your upper body to the left and push the weight away from your body, lowering it to the ground. Return to the middle and rotate your upper body to the right, pushing the weight away from you and lowering it to the ground. Complete as many reps as you can.

Leg raises

Hispanic girl doing leg raies for fitness
These are simple but incredible effective. Lying flat on your back with your arms flat by your side, lift both your legs until they are at around a 60 degree angle from the floor. Lower them slowly and then repeat. Focus on your stomach muscles as you lift and lower, and watch out so that you don’t strain your neck. Start with about 15 or 20 reps.

Dead bugs


You know how when knock a bug down it’s legs and arms are just flailing in the air? That’s what this is named after. Like leg raises, you start laying down on your back. Bring your knees up so that they are at a 90 degree angle from your hips, and then lower and straighten one leg so that it is flat on the ground. Make sure to keep your back straight so that it doesn’t arch. Return that leg to the angled position, and then straighten out the other leg. Repeat this, alternating legs each time, for as many reps as you can.

Rotating renegade row

Shot of a fitness group working out together in a gym
This is what you’d get if a push up and a plank has a baby. Take two dumbbells and place them parallel shoulder width apart on the ground. Position yourself in a plank position with your hands on the dumbbells and your feet shoulder width apart. Remember to keep your stomach tight, as you would with a regular plank, and then pick up the right dumbbell and row it back. Put it back on the floor, still engaging your core, and do the same with the left dumbbell. Do as many of these as you can, making sure to do an equal number of reps on both arms.

Remember you can track all your exercise in the Lifesum app, just search for your exercise and enter time spent! You can choose to include or exclude these calories as part of your calorie goal.

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams