3 Effective Abs Exercises Anyone Can Do

by Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS on May 17, 2017


Target the core from all angles while giving participants choices.

Essentially, any exercise that uses the anterior and/or posterior muscles to stabilize the spine—and is performed in a coordinated fashion—works the core. It’s important to include some kind of core moves in all classes, particularly those in which core training might not be emphasized. Try the following exercises in one of your next classes; these moves are appropriate in a range of settings and will be effective with various pieces of equipment. The best part: You can modify the movements to create more or less challenge with a simple body-position adjustment or equipment change. This vests attendees with options to help them flourish. Note: Choose sets and reps based on preference and the time allotted. Switch sides on unilateral exercises.

Double-Tap Twist Crunch

Double-Tap Twist Crunch

  • Lie supine, hips and knees flexed, one foot on floor, other foot placed across opposite thigh (figure-four position).
  • Place fingertips lightly behind head, elbows pointing toward corners of room.
  • Flex spine, then rotate inside elbow to touch inside, then outside, of supported knee.
  • Rotate back to center, and lower to floor.
  • Progression: Lift foot off floor.

Side Plank with Rotation

Side Plank With Rotation

  • From side-lying position, place flexed elbow directly beneath shoulder, with forearm and wrist extended, hand making a fist.
  • Maintain alignment from ear to hip and knee joint.
  • Place top leg in front of body, toe of back foot touching heel of front foot. This kinetic connection aligns the body and helps control rotation.
  • Place fingertips of top arm just behind ear, elbow pointing toward ceiling.
  • Lift hips into side plank; rotate top elbow down toward floor, touching fist.
  • Slowly raise elbow back toward ceiling.
  • Progression: Stack feet on top of each other. Regression: “Kickstand” back knee to increase base of support.

Kneeling Roll-Out

Kneeling Roll-Out, Three Ways


  • Place forearms directly onto AbDolly, knees and hips flexed under body, feet relaxed.
  • Press body forward, rolling AbDolly in front of body, lengthening spine and arms.
  • Return to start.
  • Progression: Return without flexing hips. Regression: Shorten range of motion and maintain flexion in elbow and hip joint.

Gliding™ Disc

  • Place one hand on single disc, arms extended directly under shoulders.
  • Place flexed knees on floor, hips extended in plank.
  • Slowly lower into pushup while extending hand on disc forward, lengthening arm.
  • As you press up, bring extended arm back beneath shoulder, returning to starting position.
  • Progression: Perform from full pushup. Regression: Decrease ROM through pushup and extended arm.

TRX® Suspension Trainer™

  • Using fully lengthened TRX Suspension Trainer straps, place knees on floor, and face away from anchor point, hands inside handles, arms lengthened slightly below shoulder height.
  • Drop body forward, flexing shoulder joints until biceps muscles frame head.
  • Keep neck aligned with body.
  • To finish, pull arms straight down and return torso and hips to starting position.
  • Progression: Move back, closer to anchor point. Regression: Begin movement farther away from anchor point.

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About the Author

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, C.S.C.S. is an international fitness educator, twice published author (Human Kinetics) and 30-year fitness industry veteran. Irene is faculty at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and SCW Fitness. She is the Education Director for Octane Fitness, an Orangetheory Fitness coach and a RYKA Fitness Ambassador. Irene contributes to several fitness and consumer publications, is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for ACE and NASM, an IDEA Fitness Expert, and contributing author to the newest release of the AFAA Group Fitness Instructor Manual. Irene holds positions on the advisory board for Diabetic Living magazine and the Egg Nutrition Council. Irene has starred in dozens of DVD's, has written 13 fitness instructional manuals (pre-natal, water fitness, small group training, kids fitness, HIIT program design, strength training, group exercise, etc.) and is a master trainer for TRX, Savvier Fitness, Power Systems, SCW Fitness Education, JumpSport and KnotOut. Her primary certifications include NSCA, ACE, ACSM, AEA, AFAA and YogaFit.