The article is a subjective view on this topic written by writers specializing in medical writing.
It may reflect on a personal journey surrounding struggles with an illness or medical condition, involve product comparisons, diet considerations, or other health-related opinions.
Although the view is entirely that of the writer, it is based on academic experiences and scientific research they have conducted; it is fact-checked by a team of degreed medical experts, and validated by sources attached to the article.
The numbers in parenthesis (1,2,3) will take you to clickable links to related scientific papers.
At-Home Ab Workouts For Women: 8 Stomach Exercises For Women 2023
There is hardly enough time to sign up for a gym membership with our busy schedules and families to take care of. The good news is that you can get a six-pack without even going to a gym or taking fat-burning pills. All you need to do is develop a workout routine that you can do within the home – and there are many!
The best part about at-home abdominal (ab) exercises is that it’s quick and requires little to no equipment. They can also be completed independently or added to any other cardio exercise or strength workout.
According to the International Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine, physical activity like aerobics and resistance exercises, at a moderate intensity for long periods combined with other physical activities, can significantly reduce abdominal fat – putting you closer to achieving the desired abs.
Here is a list of 8 ab exercises for women that will help you develop a rock-hard midriff.
8 Best Abs Workouts For Women At Home
All in all, here are 8 of the best abs exercises for women recommended for an effective at-home workout.
- Side planks with left leg lift
- Bicycle crunches
- Reverse crunches
- Leg lifts
- Mountain climber twist
8 Proven At-Home Stomach Exercises For Women
Attaining a trim midsection is not easy for everyone. Although men’s and women’s ab muscles aren’t all that diverse, females tend to have a wider pelvis and a longer waist. It can, therefore, be difficult to get a flat tummy and hard abs quickly as a result of this.
The Internet is brimming with claims of “revolutionary” new discoveries that can cure belly fat and give you rock-solid abs these days. Intermittent fasting, high-protein diets, the Paleo diet, and specific teas are just a few examples of body weight loss programs claimed to reduce abdominal obesity.
But there’s a lack of high-quality evidence on these trending diets. Effective abdominal exercises have proven to be the best way to reduce overall waist circumference.
Despite all this, fitness experts remain divided about the best ab workouts for women. Some contend that crunches are the only way to go, while others believe that other core exercises are better.
You might have also heard claims saying that hundreds or even thousands of crunches should be the norm for women who want to get flatter abs.
In India, a research team tracked a group of healthy, young people aged 18 to 30 for 30 days to see how planks affected waist circumference. They determined that 30 days of planks reduced waist circumference while increasing muscle development.
Planks target your entire core muscles, more specifically, the transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle responsible for supporting your spine and pelvis. Here’s how you do a standard plank:
- Unlike a push-up position, lie flat on your stomach (the plank position).
- Lift yourself up onto your forearms and toes and keep your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Squeeze your abs and glutes and keep your hips, neck, and spine in one straight line.
- Aim for anything from 20 seconds to a minute.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose slowly.
Planks are classified as either static or dynamic, with the latter being more common. The majority of static types keep the same form throughout the whole exercise. On the other hand, dynamic techniques entail using body parts other than those that are being targeted.
Side Planks With Leg Lift
The side plank strengthens the external obliques and lower back, which can help improve posture. They also make it easier to do other exercises that target the lower abs.
- Start by lying down with your left-hand side – the side plank position.
- Place your body weight on your left arm and stack your feet on top of each other.
- Prop yourself up using your left elbow closest to the bench, and place your left arm close to your head.
- Raise your legs, so they are close to vertical while keeping them close together. Maintain this position for 30 seconds or as long as possible without compromising good form.
- Switch sides and do the same thing but with the right side.
Crunches rank at the top of fat-burning and ab-building exercises. It is no wonder that crunches are the most common ab exercises done in the gym and most households. Make sure to keep your neck close to your shoulders while performing crunches.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands under your head or over your chest.
- Contract the abdominal muscles and lift your back to about 45 degrees.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Bicycle crunches target the obliques and the entire abdominal area. To do a bicycle crunch:
- Lie flat down on your back.
- Knees bent to about a 90-degree angle and plant your feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Place your hands gently behind your head, palms facing upwards.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees, lifting your feet from the floor.
- Exhale and rotate your trunk, moving your right elbow and left leg toward each other. This should emulate a bicycle pedal motion – simultaneously straighten your right leg.
- Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up.
For someone who doesn’t mind a bit of challenge, reverse crunches are great upper and lower abdominal exercises.
- Lie supine with your knees together, legs bent to 90 degrees, and feet planted on the floor.
- Place your arms forward beside you.
- Keep your core engaged in lifting your hips off the floor, and pulling your knees inward to your chest.
- Pause for a moment (about 20 seconds), then let your hips drop back down while keeping your back pressed against the floor.
Reverse Crunches On A Gym Ball
Reverse crunches give you an added challenge due to your feet not touching anything, plus it also works on your balance!
- If you have a gym ball, do a reverse crunch while sitting on top of it.
- Lie down with your back close to the ball’s surface.
- Cross your ankles and place your hands on the sides of your head.
- Keep your head close to the ball, squeezing your abs as you lift towards the ceiling.
- Pause for a second, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Sit-ups are similar to crunches, but sit-ups have a fuller range of motion and condition additional stomach muscles. They are performed as an endurance-building exercise targeting the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and oblique muscle groups.
Sit-ups build muscle mass, which improves older women’s health due to a decrease in muscle loss.
A research team tried to determine whether there is a difference in performing sit-ups with their knees bent at an angle and with their legs straight. Interestingly, they found a notable aspect in the results. They shared their findings at the 3rd International Scientific Conference, stating that the rectus abdominis muscle is activated more when a curl-up is done with legs extended.
Anyway, here is how you do a sit-up:
- Lie faceup on the floor, legs together, bent knees, and feet flat.
- Place your hands on your shoulders and raise your elbows to cross your arms in front of your body.
- Raise your upper body until you’re sitting upright using your core muscles.
- Lower yourself back to the starting position.
You can also try the reverse sit-up variant. This type of ab routine demands a lot of effort due to its intensity and awkward position. However, if you can master it, your abs will indeed feel the burn. Here’s how to do a reverse sit-up:
- Start in the same position as for a standard sit-up.
- At the same time, bring your feet close to you. They should be flat on the floor close to your bum.
- Keep your legs bent and raise them until your shins are close to touching the floor behind you.
- Next, keep your feet close to each other and lift your butt off the mat.
- Bring your legs to close to your body and raise them above you until they’re close to being perpendicular to the floor.
- Raise yourself back up from this position.
- Three sets of 12 repetitions( reps) should be enough for beginners.
There are several types of leg lifts: vertical leg lifts, hanging leg lifts, side leg lifts, or leg lifts with a ball. The transverse and lower abdominals are activated when you perform any thrusting motion during leg lifts, which many people do incorrectly in an attempt to target their abs during crunches.
To perform a regular leg lift:
- Start on the ground, head facing the ceiling, legs straight out in front.
- Keep your core engaged by gluing your lower back to the floor.
- As you maintain that engagement, lift your straight legs about a foot off the floor.
- Pulse your right foot and left foot up and down.
- Each “up-down” equals one rep.
For a bit of a challenge, try the leg lift with a ball. This is how you do it:
- Lie flat on your back and place a ball between your legs.
- With every movement towards the chest, pick the ball with your arms stretched straight.
- On the subsequent leg lift, place the ball back between your feet.
- Repeat the movements for repetitions.
Mountain Climber Twist
This ab exercise is similar to the traditional mountain climber, but it targets your core muscles specifically while keeping your lower body engaged. You end up with killer abs and toned thighs. To do this exercise properly:
- Maintain an active core by pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Twist to bring your right knee toward your left elbow.
- Return to a full plank position before switching legs, bringing your left leg toward your right arm.
Hypopressive Techniques: Do They Work?
The term ‘hypopressive’ means to reduce or decrease pressure. Hypopressive exercises are a modern technique that stimulates the stomach and pelvic muscles. They help tone your abs and give you a strong core. These workouts use resistance and require you to go through a series of controlled breathing patterns.
Hypopressive exercises are ideal for:
- Women’s health during the postpartum period
- Someone with back pain or knee problems
- A person who is unable to do abdominal exercises, like in the case of a herniated disk
A study was conducted to ascertain the efficacy of hypopressive exercises (HE) on postpartum women trying to strengthen the pelvic floor.
They reported that HE could significantly increase the thickness of the deep ab muscles, such as the transversus abdominis and internal oblique, which is essential for pelvic floor strengthening.
Most hypopressive exercises follow a specific technique as below:
- Breathe in normally and release the air entirely until the abdomen begins to contract on its own.
- Encourage the core to ‘shrink’ by drawing the abdominal muscles inwardly towards the spine.
- Hold this contraction for up to 20 seconds initially and gradually increase the contraction period over time while holding your breath.
- Fill your lungs with air and relax completely, returning to your normal breathing.
You can do them standing up, lying on your back while leaning forward, or kneeling on the floor. Or at home use an exercise medicine ball while you do cardio exercise.
Place the ball on the floor and lay flat with your stomach over it while supporting yourself by putting your arms straight on either side of the ball (knee tucks).
However, if you have a condition that you suspect could affect how you work out, visit a doctor to provide medical advice.
A personal trainer may also help ensure you retain good form whenever you do the hypopressive exercises. Your ambition for a strong core shouldn’t lead to more health issues.
Do you think your mindset while working out can improve the results? It turns out it does! A study by Ohio State University established that some women benefit from an exercise class where the instructor emphasizes the health benefits of the workout over-improved appearance, even if those women chose the class in hopes of improving their physique.
They observed nearly 100 college-aged women who had social physique anxiety. Apparently, more women expressed a high likelihood to retry a session where the focus was on overall health, such as being fit, rather than on a specialized cause such as losing body fat or toning the thighs.
So the next time you begin working on your lower abdominals, perhaps you should try your best to focus on those deep inhales and exhales, as well as the curl-up and side plank as a means towards better health – think of the abs as a bonus.
All in all, maintaining a positive attitude and constantly egging yourself on will go a long way. Eating more calories will only hinder your efforts. Plus, take foods and drinks to shed fat faster.
The Bottom Line
Simple at-home exercises that target the lower abdominals and associated muscles can give you rock-solid abs.
However, try to maintain good form to avoid injury to your spine. Remember that flattening your stomach requires an entire body approach, so support your exercise routine with a healthy diet and give up any detrimental lifestyle behaviors.
All in all, you can conduct these belly exercises for women in the comfort of your home.
+ 8 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- José, F., Cristiano, P. and Beck Carmem Cristina (2018). Physical Activity in the Prevention of Abdominal Obesity: Type, Duration and Intensity. [online] 4(4). doi:https://doi.org/10.23937/2469-5718/1510106.
- Pilolla, K. (2018). TARGETING ABDOMINAL OBESITY THROUGH THE DIET. [online] 22(5), pp.21–28. doi:https://doi.org/10.1249/fit.0000000000000419.
- Schoenfeld, B.J. and Kolber, M.J. (2016). Abdominal Crunches Are/Are Not a Safe and Effective Exercise. [online] 38(6), pp.61–64. doi:https://doi.org/10.1519/ssc.0000000000000263.
- Abe, T., Yaginuma, Y., Fujita, E., Thiebaud, R.S., Masashi Kawanishi and Akamine, T. (2016). Associations of sit-up ability with sarcopenia classification measures in Japanese older women. [online] 8(4), pp.152–157. doi:https://doi.org/10.1556/1646.8.2016.4.7.
- Pezarat-Correia, P., Nobre H, Cabri, J. and Filipe (2002). Comparison of abdominal muscles activation during different curl-up exercises in women. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298793033_Comparison_of_abdominal_muscles_activation_during_different_curl-up_exercises_in_women [Accessed 6 Jul. 2023].
- Sachin Vispute, Smith, J.R., LeCheminant, J.D. and Hurley, K.S. (2011). The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat. [online] 25(9), pp.2559–2564. doi:https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181fb4a46.
- da, I., Alonso-Calvete, A., Mercedes Soto González and María, E. (2021). How Do the Abdominal Muscles Change during Hypopressive Exercise? [online] 57(7), pp.702–702. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57070702.
- ScienceDaily. (2023). Some Women Benefit More From Exercise When Emphasis Is On Health, Not Appearance. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070809125804.htm [Accessed 6 Jul. 2023].