We’re all for planking your way to a stronger core & odds are you have a handful of go-to bodyweight abs exercises that you do on the rug when you’re cooling down.
But if you have ever wondered how you can work your abs with the equipment available at your gym, we have got you covered with 17 creative and effective ways to take your abs routine up a notch.
We worked with Different Trainers to round up killer core moves using some of the most ordinary gym equipment: a pull-up bar, cable machine, Bosu ball, abs roller, TRX straps, and barbell. And you can adjust them to fit any fitness level. Next time you’re at the gym pick three of the moves below and do 2 to 3 sets for the recommended number of reps. Stick to it, and we assure you’ll feel the burn and see results.
1. Hanging Leg Circles
- Grip a pull-up bar with palms parallel, arms extended. (The bar should be high enough to hang from with legs extended, without feet touching the ground.) Engaging core and keeping legs straight, draw a big circle in the air with feet. Be sure to brace your abs tight so your body doesn’t swing back and forth. Reverse the circle. One circle in each direction equals 1 rep. Do 8 to 10 reps.
- Make it easier:Work up to the pull-up bar by doing the move in a captain’s chair first, which will provide more stability.
2. Hanging Side-to-Side Knees
- Grip a pull-up bar. Engage core and lift knees toward the right side of torso, allowing legs to bend naturally. Pull knees as close to right side of chest as possible, then slowly lower back to starting position. Repeat by pulling knees to left side of chest. Completing both the right and left sides counts as 1 rep. Do 8 to 10 reps.
- Make it easier:Draw both legs straight up to the center of chest.
3. Cable Oblique Crunch
- Stack a medium weight onto the cable machine and slide the carriage down to setting close to the ground.
- Standing with your right side perpendicular to the machine, take hold of the cable handle with your right hand.
- Place left hand behind head.
- Engage obliques and lean to the left, away from the machine, performing a standing side crunch. Return to starting position.
- Do 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on the other .
4. Side Plank With Cable Hold
- As long as you’ve mastered a bodyweight side plank, you’re good to go on this one. Load a light weight onto the cable machine, slide the carriage down to a low setting, and position yourself a few feet from the machine.
- Take cable handle in left hand and come into a side plank on right forearm, bracing core and stacking feet. Extend left arm so body forms a T shape. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
5. Overhead Kneeling Cable Hold
- Load a light weight onto the cable machine and slide the carriage down to a low setting close to the floor. Start with right side of your body facing the machine, right foot and left knee on the floor. Hold the cable handle in both hands and pull the handle overhead, using hands to hold the cable in place on top of head. The goal is to stay perfectly straight
- Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
6. Mountain Climbers
- Place the Bosu ball bubble side down. Start in a plank position, gripping the edges of the flat side of the ball. Bring right knee in toward left elbow, then left knee in toward right elbow (like mountain climbers). Repeat, running legs to opposite elbows as quickly as possible for 30 seconds.
- Make it easier: Run legs straight in toward chest, instead of to opposite elbows.
7. Side Crunch
- Place the Bosu ball flat side down. Rest right hip on ball, legs extended straight. Place hands behind head with bent elbows. (Place right hand on ground if you need more support.) Crunch up to the left, engaging obliques and using your whole core to help stabilize.
- Think about bringing left elbow to left hip in order to engage obliques. Do 10 to 12 reps, then repeat on other side.
8. Abs Roll With Side Rotation
- If you’ve never tried this piece of equipment, you’re in for a treat it’s actually fun to use. Kneel on mat with knees hip-width apart. Grip handles of abs roller and roll forward, engaging core.
- As you come forward, rotate the abs roller toward the right in an arch, so you engage obliques. Roll out as far as you can without letting hips fall to floor or without hiking hips.
- Slowly roll back to start position and roll out again, this time arching to the left. One roll to each side counts as 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 reps.
9. Trunk Twist
- Place TRX straps at waist height. Stand facing TRX with feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Hold both handles, making a fist around the handles. Take a few steps back, and lean away from the straps so that arms are fully extended, core engaged. Keeping arms straight, pull yourself toward the straps, driving hands to the right. Return to starting position, then repeat, this time driving hands to the left. That’s 1 rep. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.
- Make it easier or harder: Walk feet away from the straps (so your body is at less of an angle) for less of a challenge. Or for more of a challenge, walk feet toward the straps (so your body is at more of an angle).
10. Lying Side Raise
- Lie faceup and hold barbell overhead with arms fully extended, hands shoulder-width apart. Lift straight legs up and toward right hand, engaging core so as not to place any stress on low back. (Keep back and rear flat against the mat, not allowing body to roll to the right or onto right hip.) Aim to tap toes to right hand, then slowly lower feet back to ground. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 reps.
- Make it easier: Lose the barbell and extend arms straight up, trying to tap both toes to hands.