The 5 Hardest Ab Exercises You Can Do at Home

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Including the side plank, you can do these 5 challenging ab moves right in your own backyard.
Image Credit: Aleksandar Jankovic/E+/GettyImages

Are you sick of crunches? Or maybe planks just aren't doing it for you any more. If your usual core routine is losing its appeal, it's probably time to level up. And don't worry — there's no shortage of grueling ab exercises out there.

Next time you're feeling particularly bored with your core workouts, burn out your abdominal muscles with these five exercises, courtesy of Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness on the NEOU App.

1. V-Ups

1. V-Ups
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Mathew Forzaglia
Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Start lying on the ground with your legs extended and held together, arms above your head, elbows along your ears.
  2. Raise your legs, arms and torso a few inches off the ground, keeping your lower back flat on the floor. This is the starting position.
  3. On an exhale, raise your legs up toward the ceiling and reach for your toes with your hands, hollowing out your core. You'll resemble a V shape.
  4. Then, lower your arms and legs back down to the starting position.

Tip

You want to keep your legs as straight as possible at the top of this exercise. But, if that's too challenging or you don't have the flexibility, bend your knees, Forzaglia says.

2. Knee to Elbow Dead Bug

2. Knee to Elbow Dead Bug
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Mathew Forzaglia
Type Strength
Region Core
  1. For the dead bug exercise, start lying flat on your back with your knees bent and pointing to the ceiling, shins parallel to the ground.
  2. Engage your core and press your lower back into the ground, raising your head and shoulder blades up off the ground.
  3. Raise your arms up and over your chest, then bend your elbows to 90 degrees, touching elbows to knees.
  4. Keeping your left arm and knee touching, extend your right arm straight over your head, elbow close to your ear.
  5. Simultaneously, extend your right leg straight out, hovering just above the ground.
  6. Pause here for a moment, pressing your left elbow to knee firmly.
  7. Then, bring your right elbow and knee to touch and switch sides.

3. Forearm Side Plank Knee to Elbow

3. Forearm Side Plank Knee to Elbow
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Mathew Forzaglia
Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Start lying on your left side with your legs stacked and left forearm on the floor.
  2. Press into your forearm and lift your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping the side of your feet on the ground.
  3. Bring your right hand behind your head, bending the elbow.
  4. On an exhale, raise your right knee up toward your elbow, simultaneously crunching your obliques.
  5. Lightly tap your right elbow and knee and bring your leg back down, straightening your torso back to the side plank position.
  6. Do all your reps on one side before switching sides.

Tip

"[In the] side plank position, focus on pressing your leg into the ground to stabilize the hips in order to bring your knee to elbow," Forzaglia says. If you're unable to meet knee to elbow, you can make the move easier by just holding a side plank.

4. Quadruped Wall Walks

4. Quadruped Wall Walks
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Mathew Forzaglia
Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Face a wall on all fours with your knees in line with your hips and hands beneath your shoulders. Lift your knees an inch off the ground
  2. Place your left hand on the wall in front of you, knees still close to the ground.
  3. Engage your core and bring the right hand up onto the wall alongside the left, in line with the shoulder.
  4. Then, bring your right hand back to the starting position, followed by the left.

Tip

Keep your hips as stable as possible as you do this exercise. You can regress this move by holding the quadruped position, knees hovering just above the ground, and performing shoulder taps, touching each hand to the opposite shoulder.

5. Dragonfly

5. Dragonfly
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Mathew Forzaglia
Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Start lying flat on your back with your arms above your head, hands holding onto the legs of a table or another sturdy object.
  2. With your legs together, lift them straight up toward the ceiling without arching your back.
  3. Continue reaching your legs toward the ceiling as you raise your hips and torso up off the ground, balancing on your shoulder blades.
  4. On an exhale, begin to lower your feet toward the ground, keeping your body in a straight line.
  5. As you lower, stay up on your shoulder blades without letting your torso or hips touch the ground.
  6. Lower your legs until they hover a foot or so off the ground (or tap the ground lightly if you can maintain good form), then raise back up.

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