The Only 4 Exercises You Need for More Intense Ab Workouts

a purple rectangular calendar graphic for the new year do you challenge listing the workout for each day with a beginner full-body workout on Sundays, a walk on Mondays, a beginner core workout on Tuesdays, cardio on Wednesdays, an intermediate full-body workout on Thursdays, an intermediate core workout on Fridays, and a mobility workout on Saturdays for the 31 days of January
a personal trainer wearing a teal tank top and gray leggings does a plank tap exercise in a gym during a body-weight core workout in front of a rack of kettlebells and dumbbells
The more core strength you have, the more efficient (and effective) your workouts become.
Image Credit: Morit Summers/LIVESTRONG.com Creative

This 31-day body-weight workout challenge will inspire you to move more, no matter your starting point. Get all the details on the challenge here.

If you want to run longer, jump higher or simply move better, you'll want to make sure you have a solid core (aka abs, back and glutes). And while planks, bird dogs and crunches are a great place to start, at some point, you'll need to advance to more challenging ab exercises.

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And this workout — designed by Morit Summers, CPT, creator of Brooklyn-based training studio Form Fitness and host of our "New Year, Do You" Challenge — ramps up your core workouts without any equipment by including some intermediate ab exercises.

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If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this workout on your own, increase or decrease the reps and sets based on your fitness level. You should be able to do all the reps with good form, but the last two should feel challenging.

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In between sets and exercises, rest for 20 to 40 seconds. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout) but you should feel ready to tackle the next set.

Reps and Sets Per Exercise

Sets

Spider

Plank Tap

Windshield Wiper

Mountain Climber

Week 1

2

3/side

8/side

8/side

15 sec.

Week 2

3

3/side

8/side

8/side

15 sec.

Week 3

3

5/side

10/side

10/side

20 sec.

Week 4

4

5/side

10/side

10/side

20 sec.

4 Intermediate Body-Weight Moves to Strengthen Your Core

The "New Year, Do You" Challenge is accessible to all fitness levels. That's why we're providing a main move and at least one modification or variation.

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In the videos below, you'll see one trainer — either Summers or her Form Fitness co-founder Francine Delgado-Lugo — demonstrating the base exercise along with a modification or variation from the other trainer. Choose the version of the exercise that works best for you.

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1. Spider (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Start in a high plank on your hands and toes with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels, like Summers on the right.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot up toward your right hand.
  3. Step your foot back into a high plank.
  4. Repeat with your left leg.
  5. Continue alternating sides until you've completed all your reps.

Modifications and Variations

To modify, place your hands on a bench, step or sturdy box and perform this move from an incline plank (shown on the left).

2. Plank Tap (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. As Summers (right) demonstrates, start in a high plank on your hands and toes with your hands directly under your shoulders. Press your hands firmly into the ground while squeezing your glutes.
  2. Keeping your core braced and your glutes tight, lift your right hand off the ground and tap your right hip (or left shoulder if it's more comfortable).
  3. Bring your right hand back down to the ground and lift your left hand off the ground to tap your right shoulder or left hip if it's more comfortable.
  4. Continue alternating shoulder taps.

Modifications and Variations

To modify, drop to your knees (shown on the left) or place your hands on a bench or step so you're in an incline plank.

3. Windshield Wiper (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Following Summers on the right, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
  2. Your arms can either be straight out to your sides or at about a 45-degree angle from your body with your palms down. Choose whatever arm position feels more comfortable for you.
  3. Press your lower back into the ground to engage your core muscles. Keep your low back flat to the floor the entire time.
  4. Bring your feet off the ground and straighten your legs toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
  5. Press your hands and arms into the ground for stability as you lower both legs to the left. Lower only as far as is comfortable.
  6. Use your abs to bring your legs back to the starting position before lowering your legs to the right side.
  7. Continue alternating sides. Remember to keep your core muscles tight and engaged throughout the movement.

Modifications and Variations

To modify, bend your knees to 90 degrees with your shins parallel to the floor to perform your windshield wipers (shown on the left). You can also limit your range of motion by only dropping a quarter or half of the way down.

4. Mountain Climber (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. As Summers demonstrates, start in a high plank on your hands and toes with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Keep your hips level and don't let your lower back sag.
  3. Engage your abs and bring your right knee toward your chest.
  4. Return your right knee to the starting position.
  5. Bring your left knee into your chest, then step it back. Continue switching legs at your desired pace.

Modifications and Variations

One mountain climber variation (as shown on the left) is to step with one leg at a time. Focus on one leg for half the allotted time, then switch for the remaining time.

Follow Along With the Challenge

Use the calendar below to help you stay on track with the "New Year, Do You" Challenge. Do the workout listed, then check off each day as you complete it. (Get a printer-friendly version here.)

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Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

​Back to the "New Year, Do You" Challenge

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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