Abdominal exercises for beginners – Light up that core!

Working your Abdominal muscles is always seen to be the one area everyone heads to. If you think about it every movement you do will work this area; however, I would start slow because overdoing abdominal exercises for beginners will leave you in pain from such things as coughing or in extreme breathing !!

The below abdominal exercises for beginners are a great way to build yourself up – Start slow and aim to increase the reps or times spent in hold for longer each workout and do not forget to vary the type of exercise each workout.

Main abdominal exercises for beginners errors

The main reason why the people do not have huge abs is that plenty of so-called “experts” are still giving out old fashioned advice which just doesn’t work.  

The main error people make concentrating solely on doing crunches and leg raises. If you have unwanted belly fat covering your abdominal muscles, you will add muscles underneath, but not lose the upper fat. Therefore, instead of having a slimmer waist, it will get larger.

It is impossible to remove fat solely from one location. Therefore the only way to reveal your abdominals is to lose that excess weight.

If you want to show off your abs, the first thing you “ve got to realise is that the equation for abs is simple. 

It’s simple but damn hard work. 

Firstly, you will need to consider a diet that has a limited number of calories, as the basic premise goes it’s all about calories in and calories out. Next, find effective cardio workouts to do, also think about strength training with weights.

Using weights will help raise your metabolism and build muscle which will eventually help you burn fat naturally and lose more weight.  

What you are about to discover are a few exercises that if incorporated into your daily regime, will give you immense benefits.  However, along with these exercises which tone and grow abs quicker you need to remember to below points: 

1. reduce your calorie intake so that you are in deficit. This deficit will help you with your weight loss. ( see Healthline.com for Top Tips

2. Complete daily intense cardio workouts, burning extra fat. 

3. Resistance Training For building muscles to increase your metabolism Bear in mind that lifting weights will help you get all over toned.



Girl in blue shorts and brown hoody , hands toucing ear in upper crunch position











The crunch is a classic go-to core exercise for many. It is very good at training your abdominal muscles, which are part of your core.

Your core does not only consist of your abdominal muscles. They also include your oblique muscles as well as the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, and hips. Together, these muscles help stabilise your body. When you begin performing abdominal exercises for beginners you will notice these different types more than usual.

While the crunch is seen as an everyday core exercise, it isn’t for everyone. 

Crunches can place a lot of stress on your neck and back if not performed correctly.

We’ll review the pros and cons of performing crunches below, and how to do the exercise with proper form. 

We’ll also explore other exercises that may be safer and more effective.

Standard crunches should be performed on the floor and are more comfortable if performed on a yoga mat.

How to 

  1. Lay on your back, feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees and touch your ears with your fingers. Inhale and squeeze your abs.
  3. Roll your upper body off the floor, ENSURE your head and neck are relaxed.
  4. Inhale and return to the starting position.

Safety tips:

  • Contract your core to raise your upper body. If the movement comes from your head or neck, you’ll increase the risk of injury.
  • Move in a slow, controlled manner. Quick and jerky movements will not engage the correct muscles.
  • Do not pull on your neck, if you find it difficult to hook your feet under a solid object to provide support.

Air Bike Crunches

An excellent exercise for those days when you do not want to exercise but feel you have to and are not sure what you can do. Even if you do this for 30 seconds, you gain in terms of benefits. The fact that you can do it fast or slow, in a piston-like movement (for efficiency) or a more circular, cycling fashion makes it as versatile an exercise as they come. 


Most people don’t know the best way to work their abs.

Doing crunches and sit-ups might seem like the best way to work your abs, but this is actually not the case. These exercises can actually do more harm than good.

The ab rollout progression is a great exercise that targets all of your abdominal muscles. This exercise is simple to do and can be done anywhere with no equipment needed or we show you how to perform it with a Ball for maximum gains.

How to

  1. Lay on the floor with a straight back, knees bent, and feet are resting flat on the floor.
  2. Position both hands slightly on either side of your head.
  3. Starting position: pull one of your knees toward your chest with the other outstretched but off the ground. 
  4. Now, Start paddling your legs, as if you’re riding a bicycle in the air. 
  5. Brush your right knee with your left elbow and then your left knee with the right elbow.
  6. Return to the starting position after each cycle.
  7. Repeat the above steps without pausing. You can do as many reps as your body allows

Woman perfomign Air bike crunch - on back , elbow touching knee

Russian twists

A superb exercise that works all of your abs, obliques. Particularly suitable for improving functional fitness and strength in all twisting activities. One of my preferred abdominal exercises for beginners due to how easy it is to scale.

How to

  1. Start by sitting on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lean back, so your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight at this angle throughout the exercise, as it will be tempting to hunch your shoulders forward.
  3. Link your hands together in front of your chest, brace your core and raise your legs off the ground.
  4. Rotate your arms over to one side, then do the same in the other direction. Count that as one rep.
  5. Aim for 20 in total, or set a timer for a minute and keep twisting till the beep goes off.

This progression is probably the most common form of the Russian twist and uses various types of weights: EG dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, weight plate, sandbag. Remember if you can hold it in two hands as you twist from side to side, you can use it. Increase the intensity by using extra weight. This additional weight increases the challenge to your core. Especially. For extra credit, try to gently tap your weight on the floor on each side as you twist.

Whatever weight you’re using, ensure your body is out of position. Only your torso should be twisting, so if you’re struggling to maintain good form, then reduce the weight or go back to the unweight exercise.

Leg Holds

 How to 

Lay flat on the floor with your arms at your sides and legs stretched out touching each other. Now raise your legs trying to keep the legs as straight as possible. Lift them as high as possible without bending at the knees.  

 Point your toes.

Once you get as high as you can, pause for one second and lower them back down. Ensure you are careful to keep your movements slow and in control. Count none, two, three on the way up and the same on the way down. Lower your legs until they are a few inches or centimetres above the ground, and then raise them again. 

Complete three sets of ten reps. progress by adding more reps every workout.

If you’re struggling to complete ten traditional leg raises, I suggest bending your legs slightly as you lift. 

line drawing of a Man laying on his back with straight legs held together

Line drawing of a man with legs together laying on back with legs raised

Leg Raise Variations

Single leg raise

As explained above, you can make the leg raise easier by bending your knees. You can also try raising each one leg at a time. This single-leg variation will help stabilise your body as you raise the other leg.

Weighted leg raise

As with the majority of exercises, you can make the leg raise more intense by introducing some weight. 

Hold a dumbbell, wall Ball or kettlebell between your feet as you perform the exercise. Keep the weight light, due to that it doesn’t take much to make the leg raise very challenging, 

Leg raise on a dip station

If you’re looking to take your leg raises airborne but aren’t quite ready to try the hanging leg raise yet, head for the dip station. You’ll work your core all the harder to keep your torso still, and your arms and shoulders get a workout as well. Supporting yourself on both arms, which should be extended and by your sides, raise your legs straight in front of you, then slowly lower them again. If this is proving too severe, then you can bend your legs and bring your knees up instead.

Hanging knee raise

Slowly raise your knees into your chest while Hanging from a pull-up bar .then lower them slowly to a hang. 

Progress to the straight-legged raise and on too weighted hanged leg raise as strength allows.

Remember your grip may give out quickly. 


Lay on the floor using an exercise mat to make you more comfortable.

  1. Lay on your front, face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Elbows under your shoulders and your forearms are facing forward. Keep Your head relaxed, looking at the stays floor.
  2. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Keep your back straight and ensure your body forms a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging.
  3. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Release in a controlled manner back to the floor.
  4. Progression – work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.


Avoid these errors to avoid injury.

Arching Your Back 

If you arch your back, you are not engaging your abdominal muscles correctly if you have to arch your back, and you are putting extra of the weight onto your arms. 

Keep your shoulders down and wide.

Sagging Hips 

If your hips start sagging your muscles may have reached fatigue. 

It’s time to end your plank.

If your hips are sagging from the beginning, try a variation below to reduce the load.

Raised head 

Keep your neck in line with your body at all times, not raised. Ensure you look at the ground to reduce neck strain.


See below for modifications of the plank that intensify the exercise working the core muscles more as well as ways to modify it if you are a beginner.

 Too Hard

 Take the pressure off of your feet by bending your knees. You could also start by leaning on a bench or step with your arms.


 Plank With Leg Lift

Start in the same plank position, laying flat on the floor with your forearms and toes in contact.

  1. Slowly raise one leg (12 to 20 centimetres) 5 to 8 inches off the floor.
  2. Hold for two seconds and slowly lower to the floor.
  3. Repeat for the other leg.

Complete three sets of 5 – 10 reps


You should now have an idea of several easy to start abdominal exercises for beginners and a few steps for progression. If you have any favourites or any that I have missed, please drop me a comment below. 

I perform weighted knee hangs and Russian twists to work more muscles these reduce the time required and up the intensity.

The above abdominal exercises for beginners are a great way to build your self up – Start slow and aim to increase the reps or hold for longer each workout and do not forget to vary the type of exercise so not to get stale.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to add a comment below.


Author Profile

Owner and author at shortandintense.com , 25 years as a quality and health and safety professional with an in-depth knowledge of functional and corrective exercises. IHoS registered,lead auditor, personal trainer and human movement specialist.

4 thoughts on “Abdominal exercises for beginners – Light up that core!”

  1. Thanks for sharing .I have been searching for beginners exercise to engage into, in other to burn out my Belly fat. Having gone through the various options highlighted in this article, I must say the crunches will be a perfect option for me to begin. Thanks for the insight, warm regards

    • Thanks for the comment , The crunches are a great exercise however do not rule out the other suggestions . Variety is the key to reducing boredom being consistent and progressing quickly .  

  2. Being a gym addict, the current lockdown really “crack my head” in half when I was looking for training that can be done at home…

    My gym partner sends me your article when I was looking for the relevant home training for abs.

    Well, I have to say you really did a great job of explaining how people can get started right away with the training even without any equipment.

    However, I’ve got a quick question to ask you, do you have a more in-depth article that lists out the kettlebell training?

    Because I’ve got a kettlebell at home, but I not really sure what to do with it, if you’ve got a thorough article about kettlebell, that’ll be great!


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