14 Super-Effective Ab Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

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How to Get an Ab Crack
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Emily Ratajkowski has one. So does Jasmine Tookes, and the entire Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show posse, now that I think about it. However, most women don’t, have never and probably will never obtain one. I’m talking about “ab cracks.”

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MORE: 15 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Without Any Exercise

First coined in July 2016, the ab crack is essentially the divide between your abs (well, between some people’s abs) that’s basically the six pack’s less-flamboyant cousin. According to celebrity trainer Joey Thurman, the ab crack actually has a clinical name, and it’s pretty much reserved for people willing to live at the gym and give up carbs for life.

What you’re referring to is the linea alba,” Thurman told us. “This is the fibrous tissue between the abdomen that generally shows up when you are incredibly lean and have great abdominal definition.”

In addition to exercising really, really hard (more on that later), anyone chasing a defined, um, linear alba, should sleep more and eat less refined foods. 

MORE: 6 At-Home Workout Apps That Will Change the Way You Exercise

Without proper sleep, your body will be inflamed, you won’t burn as much fat, you will crave more calories—and the bad ones—and your cortisol levels will be elevated, limiting any sort of fat burning,” says Thurman. He also says the most important part of getting to actually see your abs is diet: “Avoid any processed carbohydrates and added sugar—so nothing from a bag, no bread, no cereal and no sweets. Also, drink lots of water, because if you don’t drink water, your body holds on to it.” 

Of course, you’re not going to get off that easy—ab cracks of hashtag-worthy proportions are also sculpted at the gym. So while you’re mulling over whether an ab selfie is worth giving up pizza, click through the slideshow for the 14 ab exercises recommended by celebrity personal trainers.

A version of this article was originally published in November 2016.

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Weighted Toe Reach

Anna Victoria, personal trainer and Instagram influencer, says:

"Lay on the ground holding a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell above your head and your legs straight up, perpendicular to the floor.

"Begin by raising your torso straight up, swinging the dumbbell over your head to meet with your feet. Pause for a brief second at the top so you can exhale and contract your abs. As you return your torso to the ground, inhale. Repeat for 12 reps."

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V-Ups

Joey Thurman, celebrity trainer, says:

"Do V-Ups, a great exercise for the rectus and transverse abdominis.

"Lay on the floor or a mat and grab a dumbbell or plate. Extend your arms behind your head, tighten up your abs, and crunch up while lifting your legs to form a 'V' at the top of the motion.

"Slowly lower your body inhaling on the way down and repeat. Complete 15 to 20 reps for three or five sets."

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Bicycle Kicks

Derek DeGrazio, celebrity trainer and managing partner of Barry’s Bootcamp Miami, says:

"On your back, lie with both hands behind your ears, shoulder blades off the floor, legs straight in front of you about a foot off the ground.

"Slowly, take three seconds to turn your body to the left, while bringing your left knee in towards your body, touch your right elbow to your left knee, then take three seconds to return to the starting position. Repeat on other side.

"Perform three sets for 60 seconds each or until [you can't complete the movement]."

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Bent Leg Toe Reach

Anna Victoria, personal trainer and Instagram influencer, says:

"Lay on the ground with your arms stretched above your head, holding a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell between both hands. Your knees should be bent and feet raised off the ground. 

"Begin by raising your torso off the ground and swinging your arms up over your head. Simultaneously extend your legs so you can reach the dumbbell to your toes. Exhale at the top and crunch your abs at the peak of this movement. Remember to inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps."

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Fitness Ball Roll-Ups

Alicia Marie, celebrity fitness coach and Instagram influencer, says:

"These are one of my favorite moves in that they challenge the core and, as a bonus, you also get upper-body strength benefits from the stabilizing push-up position—isometrics!

"You will need an inflatable fitness ball—the taller in height you are, or the longer your arms are, the larger the ball can be in circumference. Ideally, you want your body to be a straight, horizontal line when in position. 

"Begin by placing both hands just a little bit more than shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you. Facing down, put one lower leg and top of foot on the ball. Once stabilized, place the opposite foot/leg on top of the ball and hold that position until you feel stable. Tighten your core, making sure you don’t allow your midsection to sink down toward the floor. Draw your knees in, rolling the ball slowly toward your chest.

"Hold for one beat, then slowly extend your legs back to start. Repeat using slow, controlled movements."

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Weighted Sky Crunches

Anna Victoria, personal trainer and Instagram influencer, says:

"Lay on the ground with a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell above your head and knees at a 90-degree angle. 

"Begin by raising the dumbbell straight up in the air. Pause for a brief second to contract your abs at the peak of this movement and exhale.

"As you return to the starting position, inhale. Practicing controlled breathing is one of the main keys to any effective ab workout. Repeat for 15 reps."

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Elongated Planks

Joey Thurman, celebrity trainer, says:

"Try an elongated plank: This will really force your abs to stabilize and contract. Do this for three to five sets for at least 30 seconds each time.

"Start in a pushup position and while keeping your hands on the ground, walk your feet backwards to feel a stretch in your abs and contraction through your shoulders. Keep your back flat and do not let it drop. This will place lots of stress on your abs and contract your lower back. Breathe naturally!"

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Electric lace. No padding. Very Sexy, indeed.

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Electric lace. No padding. Very Sexy, indeed.

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Plank Twist Corkscrew

Alicia Marie, celebrity fitness coach and Instagram influencer, says:

"Begin by lying prone on a flat surface. Raise your body off of the floor onto your forearms and toes, being sure to keep your body level and your back, shoulders and bum in a straight line. 

"Tightening your core muscles and keeping your forearms flat, slowly rotate your hips to one side, being sure not to drop them to the floor, rotate your hips back to center.

"With your core muscles still engaged, rotate to the opposite side. Alternate back and forth slowly 10 times (five each side) for a total of four sets."

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Foot Touches

Joey Thurman, celebrity trainer, says:

"Finish [your ab workout] off with three foot touches, completing as many as you can in a 30-second timeframe. This gets more than the crack—your arms will look great too!

"Start on both hands in a pushup position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your feet together, back flat, abs tight and hips in line with your shoulders.

"Pick one hand up and touch your opposite hand three feet away, return the other hand back to the starting position, and touch the other hand as fast and controlled as possible."

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Jack Knife

Derek DeGrazio, celebrity trainer and managing partner of Barry’s Bootcamp Miami, says:

"Lie on your back with both arms straight behind your head and both legs straight in front of you on the floor. At the same time, lift your legs straight up and reach your arms toward your legs, touching your toes or as close as you can get. Repeat for three sets of 60 seconds each."

Photo: Instagram/@fitnessgirlsmotivation
Toes-to-Bar Grab

Alonzo Wilson, founder of Tone House, says:

"Begin by hanging onto a pull-up bar. Lift your feet up so that your toes touch the bar. Hold this position, without swinging, for two counts and then bring your legs back down. Repeat 10 repetitions for three sets."

Photo: Instagram/@kayla_itsines
Standing Twist & Alternate Knee Raise

Alicia Marie, celebrity fitness coach and Instagram influencer, says:

"Stand up straight with feet a little more than shoulder-width apart and with a 10- to 15-pound weight plate in your hands, placed square in front of your torso.

"With your pelvis tucked under, twist your torso to the right, bringing your right knee up toward the weight, contract abdominals, and twist your torso back to center, returning your foot to the floor. 

"Complete three sets of 15 standing twist crunches per side, complete all 15 on one side, then change sides."

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Out & Ups

Alonzo Wilson, founder of Tone House, says:

"Start by lying on your back. Kick your legs straight out an inch off the ground, then bring your knees into your chest, and then shoot your legs straight up into the air. Complete three sets of 50 repetitions each."

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Windshield Wipers 

Alonzo Wilson, founder of Tone House, says:

"Begin by hanging onto a pull-up bar. Bring your feet up so that your toes touch the bar. Move your legs from side-to-side, like a windshield wiper. Do three sets of 10 repetitions each, remembering that left and then right is just one rep."

Photo: Instagram/@kayla_itsines
Bench V-Ups

Alicia Marie, NASM-trained celebrity fitness coach and Instagram influencer, says:

"Sit on the edge of a bench or sturdy chair or surface, feet placed on the floor in front of you. Grip the sides of the bench/chair and lean slightly back, balancing a bit. 

"Tightening your core for balance, lift your feet off the floor, and bring your knees and upper body in toward each other simultaneously.

"Take your time and breathe. Repeat for four sets of 10 repetitions."

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