10 Ab Workouts For Women: 2024 Best Core Exercises

Most gym goers use fat burners and exercises to reach one goal: Lose belly fat! And it’s for good reason. Dangers of a thick midsection include increased risks of chronic diseases,[1] cardiovascular complications,[2] impaired metabolism,[3] and poor posture.[4] This comprehensive guide will dive into the world of ab workouts for women. We shall explore exercises targeting the lower abs and engaging the entire core.

10 Best Ab Workouts For Women To Try

Lower ab workouts for women at the gym or home benefit your body. 

Here is a list of our selected ten best abdominal exercises at home and the gym.

Knee Raises

This exercise primarily targets the lower abs, engaging the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles.

Knee Raises
Knee Raises Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar or use knee-raise equipment.
  2. Engage your core and lift your knees towards your chest while inhaling deeply.
  3. Slowly lower your body back down, exhaling as you lower your legs.
  4. Inhale at the starting position, exhale as you lift your knees toward your chest.

Tips 

  • Focus on engaging your core muscles throughout the exercise.
  • Avoid swinging or using momentum during knee raises.
  • Pay attention to your form to minimize strain on other areas of your body.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-48-10
Hypertrophy3-410-15
Endurance Training2-320+
Power Training3-45-8

Reverse Crunches

These crunch exercises work the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles.

Reverse Crunches
Reverse Crunches Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. To do it, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your right and left hands by your sides or underneath your hips for support.
  3. Engage your abs and lift your hips, bringing your knees towards your chest.
  4. Lower your hips back down.
  5. Inhale at the starting position, exhale as you curl your pelvis off the ground.

Tips

  • Start with proper positioning.
  • Avoid pushing off with your legs or using your neck and shoulders to lift your upper body.
  • Maintain a steady and controlled pace throughout the exercise.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-58-12
Hypertrophy3-412-15
Endurance Training2-320+
Power Training3-45-8

Leg Lifts

Leg lifts target the lower abs, working the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles. This exercise helps improve core strength and stability while toning the lower abdominal region.

Leg Lifts
Leg Lifts Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. The proper form is to lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your hands by your sides.
  2. Lift both legs off the ground simultaneously while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged.
  3. Maintain a slow and controlled movement as you lift and lower your legs. Avoid arching your back or using momentum.
  4. Inhale at the starting position, exhale as you lift your legs upward.

Tips

  • Focus on using your abdominal muscles to lift your legs off the ground.
  • Bend your knees slightly or perform the leg lifts with your legs at a higher angle as needed.
  • Remember to breathe throughout the exercise.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-46-10
Hypertrophy3-410-15
Endurance Training2-315-20+
Power Training3-44-6

Bicycle Crunches

These crunches are a variation of ab workouts for the lower belly, engaging both the lower abs and obliques.

Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle Crunches Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head.
  2. Starting with your legs straight, lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your left elbow towards your right knee.
  3. Straighten your left leg, then switch sides, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee. 
  4. Also, inhale through the nose as you extend your left leg out in a straight line and bring your right knee up. Exhale during the crunch as you twist your torso.

Tips

  • Avoid straining your neck or shoulders
  • Be sure to fully rotate and reach with each repetition to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Avoid rushing through the exercise and focus on maintaining proper form and engaging your core muscles.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-510-15
Hypertrophy3-415-20
Endurance Training2-320+
Power Training3-45-10

Plank With Hip Dips

These dip ab workouts for the lower stomach primarily target the obliques, the muscles on the sides of the waist.

Plank With Hip Dips
Plank With Hip Dips Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Begin in a forearm plank position with elbows directly under your shoulders.
  2. Slowly rotate your hips to the right, lowering your right hip towards the ground.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the left side.
  4. Exhale as you dip your hips to the side, and inhale as you return to the plank position.

Tips

  • Start with proper plank form for a stable base.
  • Focus on engaging your oblique muscles.
  • Aim for a slow and controlled pace to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-420-30 secs
Hypertrophy3-430-45 secs
Endurance Training2-345-60 secs
Power Training3-420-30 secs

Scissor Kicks

This lower ab exercise targets the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles.

Scissor Kicks
Scissor Kicks Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your hands by your sides or underneath your hips for support.
  2. Lift both legs a few inches off the ground and perform scissor-like movements by crossing your right foot over your left foot.
  3. Inhale at the starting position, exhale as you alternate leg movements.

Tips

  • Start with proper positioning to help maintain stability and prevent excessive strain on your lower back.
  • Engage your core and lift your legs.
  • Keep the movements controlled and avoid swinging or using momentum.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-415-20 secs
Hypertrophy3-420-30 secs
Endurance Training2-330-45 secs
Power Training3-415-20 secs

Standing Oblique Crunches

These crunches focus on the oblique muscles, particularly the external obliques. 

Standing Oblique Crunches
Standing Oblique Crunches Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands behind your head.
  2. Crunch your right elbow towards your right hip while lifting your right knee towards your elbow.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side, doing ten reps on each side.
  4. Exhale as you crunch to the side, inhale as you return to the starting position.

Tips

  • Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Avoid pulling on your neck or using your hands to lift your head.
  • Avoid any jerking or twisting motions.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-48-10
Hypertrophy3-410-15
Endurance Training2-315-20+
Power Training3-45-8

Russian Twists

It primarily targets the oblique muscles, perfect for ab workouts for the lower body.

Russian Twists
Russian Twists Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent.
  2. Lean back slightly and twist your torso from side to side, touching the floor with your hands.
  3. Keep your arms parallel to the floor as you twist and exhale with each twist.
  4. Exhale as you twist from side to side; inhale at the center.

Tips

  • Hold a weight or medicine ball in your hands for advanced exercise.
  • Focus on the rotation of your torso.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-410-15
Hypertrophy3-415-20
Endurance Training2-320-25+
Power Training3-45-10

Hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold engages the core, including the lower abs, upper abs, lower back, and obliques. They make a fundamental part of ab workouts for love handles.

Hollow Body Hold
Hollow Body Hold Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Lie on your back, holding a hollow object between your ankles.
  2. Lift your legs and shoulders completely off the ground.  Lift as high as possible, preferably at a 60-degree angle, with the ground on both sides.
  3. Hold the position for 30 seconds, engaging your entire core.
  4. Lower your body to the starting position.
  5. Inhale as you lift your shoulders and legs off the ground, hold, and breathe normally.

Tips

  • Avoid letting your lower back arch or your shoulders hunch up towards your ears.
  • Remember to breathe steadily and maintain the hollow body position for the prescribed amount of time. 
  • Start with shorter hold times and gradually increase as you build strength.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-420-30 secs
Hypertrophy3-430-45 secs
Endurance Training2-345-60 secs
Power Training3-420-30 secs

Pilates Roll-Up

The pilates roll-up targets the entire ab muscles, including the lower abs, upper abs, and obliques. 

Pilates Roll-Up
Pilates Roll-Up Guide. Photo: Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

How To Do

  1. Lie flat on your back, arms extended, and slowly roll up, reaching toward your toes while inhaling.
  2. Roll back down with control while exhaling.
  3. Always maintain proper form and consult a certified personal trainer if needed.

Tips 

  • Focus on using core muscles to initiate and control the movement. 
  • Avoid using momentum or straining your neck and upper body.
  • Gradually increase the number of repetitions as you build strength and control.

Optimal Sets And Reps

Training StyleSetsReps
Strength Training3-46-10
Hypertrophy3-410-15
Endurance Training2-315-20+
Power Training3-44-6

Benefits Of Women Ab Workouts

An exercise for abs may contribute to overall body toning. Photo: artursafronovvvv/Freepik

Training your strong core has immeasurable benefits that affect the entire body. And here is how a lower ab workout for women with or without weights helps you:

Core Strength And Stability

Exercises for abs effectively target the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and external obliques.

These are the major muscle groups responsible for the core stability[5] of your trunk. Incorporating these exercises into your fitness routine can significantly improve lumbar stability.[6]

Toned Midsection And Definition

An exercise for abs may contribute to overall body toning. Women may achieve a more defined waistline limiting obesity risk using both isotonic and isometric ab workouts.

These exercises engage and strengthen the abdominal muscles, helping to sculpt a toned midsection and create a visually appealing figure. You can also lose weight by pairing lower abs workouts with other body exercises and maintaining a negative caloric balance.

Improved Posture And Back Health

A study on volleyball players suggested that core training improves posture.[7] Strengthening the core muscles provides better support for the spine, promoting proper alignment. This core alignment reduces the strain on the lower back, thus alleviating chronic lower back pain.[8]

Note: To get the best results from these exercises, follow a healthy diet and take the necessary vitamins or protein supplementation.

Safety And Precautions

Safety And Precautions
You should always warm up before doing ab exercises. Photo: diana.grytsku/Freepik

Here are the safety and precautions for the above lower ab workouts for women at home and the gym:

  • Maintain proper form to avoid injury.
  • Always warm up before lower ab exercises.
  • Stop if you feel sharp or persistent pain.
  • Breathe deeply and steadily during exercises.
  • Use properly functioning machines and equipment.
  • Stay hydrated for optimal muscle function.
  • Seek medical advice if you are on supplements or protein powders.

Conclusion

Adding effective ab workouts into your fitness routine can benefit women seeking to strengthen their core. These exercises improve your core strength, stability, and overall body toning. Also, since you may also burn fat in the process, you can add weight loss to the possible benefits.

Remember to focus on proper form, gradually increase the intensity, and listen to your body to prevent injury. A healthy diet and ample rest time are also just as important.

Consistency and dedication are additional essentials whether you prefer knee raises, reverse crunches, or another exercise. Embrace the power of ab workouts and enjoy the journey towards a more muscular, more confident you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most effective ab exercise?

It varies, but the best ab exercises are planks, crunches, and bicycle crunches.

Is an ab workout good for women?

Yes, ab workouts can benefit women, helping strengthen the core and achieve a toned midsection. This is especially important post-partum.

Should I work out my abs every day?

No, give your abs at least one day of rest between workouts for proper recovery.

When should I do lower ab workouts?

You can do lower ab workouts as part of a comprehensive core exercises routine on non-consecutive days.

Resources

  1. Dhawan, D. and Sharma, S. (2020). Abdominal Obesity, Adipokines and Non-communicable Diseases. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, [online] 203, pp.105737–105737. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2020.105737.
  2. Lee, J., Pedley, A., Hoffmann, U., Massaro, J.M. and Fox, C.S. (2016). Association of Changes in Abdominal Fat Quantity and Quality With Incident Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, [online] 68(14), pp.1509–1521. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2016.06.067.
  3. Paley, C.A. and Johnson, M.I. (2018). Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome: exercise as medicine? BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, [online] 10(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-018-0097-1.
  4. Sung Min Son (2016). Influence of Obesity on Postural Stability in Young Adults. Osong public health and research perspectives, [online] 7(6), pp.378–381. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2016.10.001.
  5. Hsu, S.-L., Oda, H., Saya Shirahata, Watanabe, M. and Sasaki, M. (2018). Effects of core strength training on core stability. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, [online] 30(8), pp.1014–1018. doi:https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.30.1014.
  6. Eun Young Kim and Lee, H. (2013). The Effects of Deep Abdominal Muscle Strengthening Exercises on Respiratory Function and Lumbar Stability. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, [online] 25(6), pp.663–665. doi:https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.25.663.
  7. Sibel Karacaoğlu and Fatma Çelik Kayapınar (2015). The Effect of Core Training on Posture. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277897295_The_Effect_of_Core_Training_on_Posture.
  8. Chang, W., Lin, H. and Lai, P.-T. (2015). Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, [online] 27(3), pp.619–622. doi:https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.27.619.