Ab/Core Circuit

5 Ab/Core Workouts

Prior to having a gym membership, abs were by far my least favorite to exercise. However, it’s also the most stubborn area that I desire to tone up the most. My hatred for ab workouts came from the fact that I thought that I had to do tons of crunches. If you’ve ever done crunches when you were grade school P.E. class, then  you know what I’m talking about. You end up have a really sore neck because you weren’t even doing the crunches right. I  have now learned that there are plenty of ab and core workouts that are actually more effective (and more fun) than crunches. Did I just say fun and abs in the same sentence? YUP! Working out abs involves engaging your core, balancing, and working on obliques as well.

Ready for an ab/core circuit?

The first three exercises are done on a decline ab bench Your legs typically go at the top so that they are supported and stay still while your back is laying on the decline bench. You can then curl upward working on using your abs instead of your neck or legs. There’s a lot of variations of ab workouts that you can do on this piece of equipment.

decline ab bench
This is an ab decline bench I use at my gym.

Decline Russian Twists with a Plate

For decline Russian twists with a weighted plate, you get on the bench the same way, but you don’t curl up all the way. Instead you only curl up halfway and then twist from left to right using the weighted plate. I typically go with 10 pounds because the next plate up is 25 pounds and that would be a bit too heavy for me. You could also use a kettle bell or a dumb bell instead. I tend to do about 8-10 reps on each side (16-20 total) per set.


For dragonflies, you actually face the opposite direction on the decline ab bench. Your back still lays on the bench, but your legs start together straight up in the air. You scoot down low enough on the bench to be able to rest your head on the bench as well and reach your hands toward the middle post above your head. This will help with stability as this core exercise is a challenging one. Lift your lower back up while lift your legs closer to the ceiling. It’s almost like your legs are being pull upward with a string. Your legs shouldn’t lower, just your bottom and lower back. You also want to make sure you aren’t flailing your legs up and that your core stays engaged. I do about 10-12 reps of dragonflies per set.

Flutter Kicks 

This ab exercise is done in the same position as dragonflies. However, this time you keep your back on the bench and lower your legs to a hover above the ground. You then alternate your legs as you do flutter kicks, but still keeping your legs low and not touching the ground. Try not to arch your back and rely only on your ab strength. I vary on the number of these that I can do, but I usually try to aim for 30-40 in each set.

Oblique Cable Twists

Lower the cable to about shoulder height on the tower. You don’t need any specific handle or bar for this exercise which makes it very convenient. Grab the end of the cable with both hands and step away from the tower a bit. Turn just your upper body (again, engaging your core) and your arms should move with you like you are hitting a baseball. Then you would face the other direction to get the opposite side. The key thing here is to make sure you are not using your arms to twist. Your arms are just there to hold on to the cable that provides resistance to your overall movement. If you feel your arms are sore, then try to focus more on turning at the waist. You should feel the twist on your sides if you’re doing it correctly. I can typically do about 10 pounds for 10 reps on each side.

Plank Knee to Nose

Planks can be stressful mainly because you just have to hold your body there and think about how much pain you’re in. However, adding movements to planks make the task much less daunting. Hold a regular pushup position and lift one leg to bend at the knee and draw toward your nose. Then do the same things on the alternate leg. I like to add even more variation so I will do 10 regular knee to nose, then 10 knee to shoulder by twisting toward the opposite shoulder as leg. I usually do 40 total reps in one set.

So just an FYI, going to the gym just to work on abs all the time is not going to get you the chiseled 6-pack you desire. You can’t do spot training to remove fat in a section of your body. Trust me, if that was the case I would work my abs everyday! Instead, working your abs and core help define the muscle UNDERNEATH the fat. Therefore, to burn the fat on your body in general, you need to incorporate a variety of exercising like cardio, HIIT (high intensity interval training), working other muscle groups, and eating right of course.

So give abs and core a try…you just might end up liking it!