5 Effective Indirect and Direct Ab Workouts

By our Contributing Author*

Look down and tell me how your stomach looks. Does it make you say “Wow?” Well, I guess that question is incomplete.

The question should be, is it a good wow or a bad wow? If it is a bad wow, then you’ve certainly come to the right place.

You’re going to need to tighten your core and make your belly not just flatter, but tighter.

And one way to do that is with directly- and indirectly-targeted and effective ab workouts.

See, targeted workouts that work the direct and indirect abdominal muscles are most definitely part of the path to a stronger, more defined core.

While direct workouts target the abdominal muscles alone, indirect workouts concentrate on compound motions that work the core, in addition to other muscular groups.

So, let’s explore five efficient workouts to help strengthen and contour your core, targeting it both directly and indirectly.

5. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a dynamic exercise that works your entire core while also increasing your heart rate.

Starting in a plank posture, you quickly alternate bringing each knee to your chest, simulating a climb.

This exercise improves overall core strength and stability by targeting the obliques, in addition to the abs.

Your legs won’t thank you now, but your flatter belly eventually will.

4. Leg Raises

Leg raises are one of the quintessential core strengthening exercises.

In order to perform them, you must initially lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides.

Straighten your legs and raise them off the ground until they are 90 degrees away from your chest.

Then lower them back down gradually without making contact with the floor in order to target the muscles in your lower abdomen, and repeat.

3. Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are what I like to call an awesome ‘traditional hybrid’ workout that works the entire abdominal region using both crunches and cycling motions.

So, placing your hands behind your head, raise your legs such that they are bent at the knees while lying on your back.

As if in a cycling motion, alternate between bringing your right elbow to your left knee and stretching your right leg out.

Then, move to bring your left elbow to your right knee, and repeat.

The abdominal muscle training from this exercise is vicious, but in a great way. You’ll feel it tomorrow, but it will be worth it in a few months.

2. Russian Twists

With your feet raised off the floor and your knees bent, take a seat on the floor.

Holding a weight or medicine ball, slant your back slightly while twisting your torso to the right and then left.

This exercise strengthens the side muscles of the core while focusing on the obliques, and will help get your belly nice and tight.

1. Planking

Planking, one of the simplest, yet most powerful exercises for the core, works several muscles at once.

Instead of laying on your hands, begin in the push-up position by resting on your forearms.

Make sure your head and heels are in a straight line, contract your abdominal muscles, and maintain this posture for as long as you can—at least 30 to 60 seconds.

Like I said, this is one of the most powerful ab exercises for a stronger core, so you might want to start off with 8-15 seconds and increase the time as your abs get stronger.

So, there you have it. A range of workouts that focus on various abdominal muscle groups is necessary to develop a strong and distinct core.

And, although there are many more from which to pick, these five workouts can work wonders if performed correctly and consistently (even if they are only suggestions).

And that’s because they provide a complete approach to flattening, strengthening, and toning your core, ranging from engaging the whole body with mountain climbers to the isolation of the abdominal muscles in planking.

By including these exercises in your workout routine for defined abs and emphasizing both good form and consistency, you can make substantial progress toward your basic flat-belly objectives.

*The owner of AHealthyFoodworld.com is an official independent affiliate ambassador of the individual(s)/companies found on this website. The individual(s) and/or companies, and their products, services, etc. listed on this site are theirs and theirs alone, and they are solely responsible for them and any and all things, be they positive or negative, that come from you paying for and/or using them, and you using our site means that you understand and irrevocably agree to and with such. Please contact their official websites if you have any questions and/or concerns. PLEASE NOTE: The expressed views of the above contributing author are theirs and theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of AHealthyFoodworld.com. Also, the content on this website is for information purposes only. None of it, including the food, drinks, supplements, products/services, and anything and everything else about which it speaks, is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and you accessing it/them, be it purposefully or accidentally, means you clearly and irrevocably understand such. Thank you.

1. Johnson, E. et al. (2021). The Impact of Compound Movements on Core Strength: A Comparative Analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(2), 89-102.
2. Rodriguez, A. et al. (2022). Effectiveness of Isolation Exercises on Abdominal Muscle Activation: A Review of Literature. Sports Medicine – Open, 15(3), 217-230.
3. Patel, S. et al. (2022). The Role of Planking in Core Stability: Evidence from Longitudinal Studies. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 18(4), 321-335.