7 Hardest Ab Exercises

Think you have a hard core? Prove it! These 7 midsection-mangling moves are some of the most advanced on the planet. They’ll help strengthen your torso from a variety of angles and in a variety of ways so you’ll be ready for all the movements initiated by your core.

1. Dragon Flag


Lie faceup on a bench and grab the bench next to your ears so that your elbows are bent and your upper arms are next to your head. Your hands are there simply for support — don’t pull with them or you’ll wrench your neck. Use your core to roll up onto your shoulders until your body is straight and perpendicular to the ground. From here, slowly lower your body using your core, maintaining a straight body line. Work toward bringing your body down until it’s hovering just above the bench. Then bring it back up to the start and lower slowly again.

2. Cross-Climber With Feet on Swiss Ball


Start in push-up position, but with your shins on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from ankles to head. Without rounding your lower back, lift your left leg off the ball and bring that knee toward your right elbow. Return to start, then bring your right knee up to your left elbow.

3. Medicine-Ball V-Up


Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms straight above your head, gripping a medicine ball so your elbows are by your ears. Concentrate on pressing your lower back into the floor at the beginning of each rep by pinning your navel to your spine. Without bending your elbows or knees, contract your abdominal muscles, fold your body up by lifting your arms and legs off the floor and stretch your arms toward your toes. Keep your back straight. Pause, then return to the starting position.

4. Standing Barbell Rollout


This move creates a vertical-pull motion that also taxes your lats. Stand with a loaded barbell at your feet. Bend forward at the waist, knees slightly bent and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Roll the bar out, keeping your toes on the ground, until your body is straight in a full-extension position. Now use your core — not your arms — to pull the bar back toward your body and return to the bent-over position.

5. Swiss-Ball Jackknife With Push-Up


Start in push-up position with your shins on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from ankles to head. Without rounding your lower back, contract your abs and use your feet to pull the ball toward your chest by bending your knees. Pause before returning to the starting position. Perform a push-up, maintaining a straight body line.

6. Front Lever


Planks too easy? Try them suspended upside down. Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. From the hanging position, use your shoulders, back and core to pull your body — totally straight — from the perpendicular position up to a position parallel to the floor. If you can reach this position, hold it for as long as you can. To work your way up to this position, start with your knees tucked in: You’re hanging from the bar, arms straight, but with your body tucked in a ball and your back parallel to the floor.

7. Turkish Get-Up


Lie on your back with your legs straight. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your arm straight above you. Keeping your elbow locked and the weight above you at all times, move your legs and left arm underneath you to push yourself up. From here, stand up. Still keeping your right arm straight and the weight above you, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.

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