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10 Of The Top Ab Exercises Without Equipment

Working out does not necessarily require a big investment. With these exercises, you can work out your abs at home without any equipment.

It is true that some workout plans demand that you spend large amounts of money on things like equipment. Even so, there are inexpensive and free ways to work out certain body parts like your abs too.

While not an absolute must it may be smart to invest in something like a yoga mat anyway if you do not have a soft surface available. Doing these ab exercises on a hard surface can be uncomfortable in the best case and lead to injuries in the worst case.

There are many ab exercises available but that does not mean you should all do them in one training. When trying to build abs you want to break down your ab muscles with one of these exercises and then give your body time and nutrients to repair and improve these muscles.

Some of the exercises are more effective than others but personal preference can be important for staying consistent. You can give multiple exercises a try to find out which ones suit you best.

How can you get a six-pack at home without equipment?

Many people start and stick to doing ab exercises to get a visible six-pack. It is certainly possible to get a six-pack at home without any equipment but for that, you have to follow 2 main steps. Before completing the first step it does not make a lot of sense to start doing ab exercises.

The first step to getting a visible six-pack that stands out is losing the belly fat that is on top of it. Some people get the impression that to burn fat you have to stay at a certain heart rate, eat certain foods, or do specific workouts.

Unfortunately, targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. To burn fat, or more specifically belly fat, you have to lose weight overall. Ab exercises are generally not helpful for this first step.

That being said, once you are at a low body fat percentage you can do ab exercises to make your six-pack stand out more.

You build muscle by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but because of this damage your body starts processes that repair these muscles. On top of that, your body builds some extra muscle to be better prepared in the future to do similar activities.

Initially ab exercises without equipment may be more than enough to see six-pack progress. After a while you may need to do ab exercises with equipment to keep seeing progress.

In short, to get a six-pack at home without equipment the first step is getting to a low body fat percentage. After that it is time to make your six-pack stand out more with these ab exercises without equipment.

1. Crunches

Crunches are one of the most popular ab exercises out there and for a good reason, they are slightly better than sit-ups for building abs (1).

One repetition of a crunch involves the following steps:

  1. You start lying down on your back with your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. You can place your hands behind your head, cross them over your chest, or put them anywhere else. The point is to not really use your arms or move them during the exercise.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders from the ground as much as possible while keeping your lower back on the floor. Make sure you don’t use your arms but your ab muscles to do this movement.
  4. Lower your head and shoulders until you are back in the starting position.

You can describe the crunch more or less as half a sit-up. To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 crunches depending on how advanced you are.

How to do a crunch

2. Sit-ups

Sit-ups are another very popular ab exercise without equipment. While they may be slightly less effective than crunches they can definitely still help you move towards your six-pack goals.

One repetition of a sit-up involves the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with your legs folded and feet on the ground. You can hold your arms against your chest if you are relatively new to ab training, stretched above your head if you are more experienced.
  2. Curl up your body until your chest is close to your knees. Start with your shoulders and as you get closer to your knees more and more of your upper body gets off the ground. Make sure your abs and not the momentum of your arms power the movement.
  3. Slowly curl down your body again. Your lower back goes first and gradually more and more of your upper body touches the ground again.

Because of the bigger movements of sit-ups compared to crunches you will also burn slightly more calories. Even then you sit-ups are not very useful for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

Similar to crunches, to build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 sit-ups depending on how advanced you are. The recommended number of repetitions depends on how many you can do in total. So if you are able to do more sit-ups than crunches the recommended number of repetitions for building abs will be bigger too.

How to do a sit-up

3. Heel taps

The next ab exercise may look less impressive than the previous options but the important thing is that heel taps can help you make your six-pack stand out more.

To do heel taps take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with your feet on the ground. Your arms are stretched and by your sides.
  2. Raise your shoulders and push your lower back against the ground with the help of your ab muscles. Keep your neck in line with your upper body.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your hand toward the heel of the foot on this side. You can actually tap it as the exercise name implies but the important part is turning your body far enough.
  4. Return to the position in step 2. Try to keep your shoulders off the ground during the exercise.
  5. Repeat step 3 but by turning your body to other side.
  6. Keep tapping each heel alternately.
How to do heel taps

4. Russian twist

Two repetitions of Russian twists involve the following steps:

  1. You start sitting down on the ground with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering above the ground. Make sure your back is straight and at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Your hands start together at your chest. You can hold any type of weight you can find between your hands to make the exercise more challenging.
  2. Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other.
  3. Return to starting position.
How to do a Russian twist

5. Lying leg raises

To do a lying leg raise take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Put your arms on the ground at your sides for balance.
  2. Slowly turn your hips and move them toward your chest. In theory your legs should not really move relative to your hips. You can go as far as raising your lower back off the ground. Keep the middle of your back on the ground.
  3. Slowly lower your legs back to the ground.

If you do lying leg raises with the right technique, they are a more advanced workout. If you do them wrong you will only feel the exercise in your hip flexor muscles.

How to do a lying leg raise

6. Knee-to-elbow

This next exercise requires slightly more coordination.

Two repetitions of knee-to-elbows involve the following steps:

  1. You start laying down on your back with your hands behind your head.
  2. Bend your legs at the hip and knee so both angles are about 90 degrees.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
  4. Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side.

7. Pike crunch

One repetition of a pike crunch involves the following steps:

  1. You start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your arms start stretched upwards at a 90-degree angle with the ground.
  2. Keep your legs more or less stretched while you move up your feet slowly until your legs make a 45-degree angle with the ground. Make sure your lower back stays in contact with the ground.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders from the ground as much as possible while keeping your lower back on the floor. Make sure you don’t use your arms but your ab muscles to do this movement.
  4. Lower your head and shoulders until you are back in the starting position.

8. Windshield wiper

One repetition of a windshield wiper involves the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Stretch out our arms to the side for balance.
  2. Slowly tilt your legs sideways to one side as far as comfortable. One side of your hips will come off the ground.
  3. Raise your legs into starting position and repeat the movement on the other side.

Due to the twisting motion, the windshield wiper exercise also targets other core muscles like your obliques.

How to do a windshield wiper

9. Flutter kicks

Flutter kicks involve the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your arms start resting on the ground at your sides for balance.
  2. Push your lower back against the ground with the help of your core muscles. The goal is to keep your lower back pushed to the ground throughout the exercise if you want to train your core muscles.
  3. Keep your legs more or less stretched and together while you move up your feet until your legs make a 90 degree angle with the ground.
  4. Slowly lower your legs until you either can’t keep your lower back on the ground anymore or until they are right above the ground. The more experienced you are with core training the closer you will be able to get to the ground.
  5. While keeping the other leg stretched, elevate one leg a small amount.
  6. While lowering this leg back to starting position elevate the other leg in the same way.
  7. Keep repeating this alternation between the two sides.

Flutter kicks are similar to the movement you make with your legs while swimming crawl.

How to do flutter kicks

10. Planks

Planks are a type of isometric exercise. In simpler words, this means that you engage your muscles in a more static way, without moving a lot. On the other hand, you have isotonic exercises where you engage your muscles in a dynamic way, by moving.

Isotonic exercises are generally more useful for building muscle. That means that sit-ups, crunches, and the other isotonic exercises on this list are likely better than planks for building bigger ab muscles.

That being said, doing a plank involves the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor on your elbows and knees.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. This means that your knees will be off the ground and that you are resting on your feet and elbows.
  3. Hold this position for an extended period of time.
How to do a plank

Conclusion

As you can see there are a wide variety of exercises you can do to work out your abs at home or any other place without any equipment.

As a strength training beginner doing these exercises with your body weight is likely enough to build some muscle mass. That being said, at some point your body weight may stop being enough resistance to build extra muscle mass.

When you reach this point, you may need to invest in equipment like ankle weights, a weighted vest, resistance bands, or other external weights if you want to keep building extra ab muscle.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.

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