Sure, six-pack abs are nice, but having a strong core isn't just about looking dazzling when you go shirtless. Your core is critical for everything you do, whether it's sitting for long hours on the job or running up and down the stairs.
But building a strong midsection isn't just about maxing out on crunches. There are smarter ways to level up your core strength, and one of them is by doing exercises that combine two moves into one. You won't only save time, you'll also engage more muscles.
Below, Jack McNamara, CPT, a certified strength coach at Train Fitness, demonstrates four of the most efficient two-in-one ab exercises that will level up your core strength in no time. McNamara recommends performing these exercises as a circuit, doing one after another.
Try These 4 Combination Ab Exercises
Move 1: Russian Twist to Modified V-Sit
- Sit up straight with your legs bent. Lift your feet off the floor and recline your torso to a 45-degree angle while holding a medicine ball with both hands.
- Keeping your entire core braced, rotate your arms and torso to twist the weight toward your left hip.
- Then, rotate your arms and torso to twist the weight toward your right hip.
- Next, twist back to the center.
- From here, lower your torso as you straighten your legs, keeping the medicine ball directly above your chest.
- Bring your torso and legs back up to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
- Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
To make this move more challenging, try keeping your legs straight throughout or add additional resistance to the movement with a heavier weight.
Move 2: Plank Shoulder Tap to Cross-Body Mountain Climber
- Start in a high plank with your shoulders stacked above your wrists.
- While bracing your core and squeezing your glutes, use your left hand to touch your right shoulder. Keep your hips as still as possible and avoid rocking from side to side.
- Place your left hand back down and repeat with your right hand to your left shoulder.
- With both hands back in the starting position, draw your right knee toward your left elbow.
- Return to a high plank and repeat with your left knee and right elbow. This is 1 rep.
- Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
Remember to keep your core engaged and back flat throughout the movement. If you feel your form slipping, there’s no need to rush. Slow down and focus on the quality of the movement.
Move 3: Side Plank Twist to Hip Tap
- Start in a side plank, propping yourself up on your right forearm with your elbow underneath your shoulder. Extend your legs and place the top foot in front of your bottom foot and squeeze your core and glutes.
- Place your left hand behind your head with your elbow pointing up. This is the starting position.
- Rotate toward the floor, bringing your left elbow to meet your right hand. Keep your hips up throughout; the rotation should happen through your core.
- Return to the starting position.
- Slowly dip your hips toward the floor until they make light contact.
- Return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
- Do 12 reps on one side, then repeat this sequence on the other side for 3 sets.
Move 4: Hamstring Curl to Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back with your arms down at your sides. Place the heels of your feet on a stability ball with your legs extended in front of you.
- Brace your obliques and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips away from the floor, creating a straight line from your shoulders to heels.
- Keeping your hips raised, curl the ball in toward you by bending your knees and flexing at the knee until the soles of your feet are on top of the ball
- Maintain this position as you squeeze your glutes to bridge upward as high as you can.
- Keep your hips high as you straighten your legs from the top position to return in a controlled manner back to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.