by: Yuri Elkaim

3 Amazing Ab Exercises for Beginners (You Need These)

There are so many ab exercises for beginners it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin.

And, adding confusion into the mix, few of the abdominal exercises they recommend actually get you the results you want.

When most people are just starting out, they incorporate sits-ups or crunches into their workout routines, hoping to burn belly fat to get that six-pack.

But one of the most important things you can know when it comes to burning belly fat is that those aren’t the type of exercises you want to be doing.

In fact, it’s impossible to burn belly fat with ab exercises like crunches and here’s why.

The Truth About Abs for Beginners

There’s only one way to lose fat from your midsection, and it’s not by doing ab exercises.

The only way to really lose belly fat is to lose fat from your entire body.

You simply cannot target one area of your body by working one group of muscles and expect the fat to just disappear from that one area.

The type of exercise that promotes all-over fat loss targets multiple muscle groups in a full-body workout.

I’ll tell you exactly which exercises are best to promote midsection definition and belly fat loss in a few moments.

When you target multiple muscle groups, you generate enough heat in your body to trigger a metabolic response, which puts your body into calorie- and fat-burning mode.

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Ab exercises such as crunches or sit-ups are missing this important element, which is why they don’t work. Please don’t mistake the “burn” of doing crunches for burning midsection fat.

When doing crunches, you’re only targeting one muscle group. This means you’ll be waiting until the cows come home to see any definition there.

As I like to say, you can spot strengthen, but you cannot spot reduce. This basically means that your abs can be rock hard and strong underneath belly fat, but you won’t be able to see any definition until you reduce your all-over body fat too.

Besides, ab exercises like crunches and sit-ups can put a lot of strain on your neck, spine and lower back, which promotes injury rather than rock hard abs.

[Related: The 10 Worst Ab Exercises That Waste Your Time and Kill Your Spine]

Core Exercises for Beginners

The best ab exercises for beginners (and non-beginners, too) are those that activate and engage several of your muscles at once, such as your abs, glutes, triceps and shoulders.

These exercises use all your muscles, generating enough heat to put your body  into fat burning mode.

The best part about these exercises is that they can be done any time, anywhere – no equipment required.

I say these ab exercises are for beginners because they’re an effective starting point to promote fat loss. But these exercises actually are for anyone wishing to improve their core strength and tone their abdominal muscles in the most simple and efficient way possible.

3 Amazing Ab Exercises for Beginners

1. Knee Drive Hold

The knee drive hold is a powerful exercise for abs that won’t cause any strain on your back. I guarantee within seconds you’ll be feeling the amazing burn of a full-body workout.

You can do a knee drive hold with or without equipment and get the same benefits.

To do a knee drive hold with equipment, I recommend using a chair, stool or stability ball to prop your arms up on. Otherwise, you can get in a plank-like position (as if you were doing a push-up) and place your hands on the ground.

Knee Drive Hold Part 1 Abdominal Exercise

Once you’re in a plank position, bring your left knee straight into your chest with your right leg straight, but engaged.

At this point, your left knee should look as if you’re taking a step while walking. Hover your left foot above the ground (but don’t place it on the ground) and fully contract your abdominal muscles.

Knee Drive Hold Part 2 Abdominal Exercise

Tuck your tailbone to avoid pressure on your low back and squeeze your glutes while contracting the rest of your muscles.

Hold this posture for a few seconds before switching legs. I recommend doing 12 reps at a time.

This is an isometric exercise, which means you’re not moving, but engaging several muscle groups while holding the pose.

In order to get the full fat-burning benefits, be sure that all of your muscles are fully activated. You’ll know when they’re activated once you start to feel that burn.

2. Activated Plank

The plank is an exercise that looks easy, and perhaps even something you’d do while watching your favorite reality TV show.

But the reality of the plank is that, when done properly, it’s actually far from easy and won’t allow you to concentrate on anything but avoiding collapsing.

It is one of the most effective exercises to accelerate fat-burning and promote rock-hard abs.

The plank differs from other core exercises because it requires your shoulders, abs, lower back, quads and glutes to be activated, providing an intense full-body workout that will make you sweat, without even moving.

Activated Plank Beginner Abdominal Exercise

To do an activated plank, drop down onto stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms and your toes, as if you were about to do a push-up.

Straighten your back by drawing your shoulder blades down towards your hips. Do not allow your back to cave in, otherwise this can cause serious strain and injury in your lower spine.

To keep your back straight, engage your abdominal muscles and keep your shoulders pointing down. What you want to see here is a relatively straight line from your head to your toes.

Tip: If it helps with your form, imagine someone’s attached a string to your bellybutton like a puppet and is pulling the string upwards from above you. This can help you further engage your core.

Next, engage all of your muscles: squeeze your bum cheeks and your quads.

Your body will begin shaking as you activate your muscles, which is a beautiful thing – it means the exercise is working!

Hold the pose for as long as you can. It may only be 20 seconds at first.

Keep in mind It will take time to build up to holding it for longer, but the work you’re doing in this pose (no matter how short) is not for nothing- it’s a powerful fat burning exercise for your entire body.

Here are some other form tips: It’s all about the posture first in this pose. When done correctly, the activated plank is very effective in burning fat and strengthening and toning your core. But if you don’t have the proper form, or foundation for this pose, you won’t be able to receive the benefits.

Work on form first and endurance second. You may want to check your pose in a full length mirror to see that your lower back or shoulders aren’t strained and caving in.

3. Dead Bug

If you’ve always dreamed of being a character from A Bug’s Life, now’s your chance.

This pose is an ideal alternative to sit-ups because it works your core the same way sit-ups do but without the risk of hurting your lower back.

Dead bug also targets additional muscle groups (your triceps) for the fat-burning benefits that sit-ups can’t provide.

Dead Bug Beginner Abdominal Exercise

Lie flat on your back and bring your legs upwards into a 90-degree angle, or an upside down “L” shape.

Engage your abdominal muscles and point both of your arms straight upwards, into your thighs.

Push your thighs into your hands, and your hands into your thighs while contracting your abs. Further engage your core by raising your shoulder blades up from the ground, with your neck straight. Avoid straining your neck.

Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat for 12 repetitions.

Tips: To activate your deeper abdominal muscles, draw your belly button towards your spine.

Here’s a video demonstrating each of these exercises: 

The Best Way to Sculpt Your Abs

Fat-burning exercises are effective to help promote a toned tummy, but the real belly-fat-loss magic happens when regular full-body exercise is combined with a nutrient-rich diet.

Nutrient-rich, fat burning foods include whole, unprocessed foods such as:

  • leafy greens,
  • fruit,
  • non-starchy vegetables,
  • lean protein sources such as organic chicken, turkey or quinoa, and
  • healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut.

Wherever possible, I recommend limiting your consumption of grains and avoiding gluten to keep your energy levels high (which will motivate you to exercise more!).

If you’re having a hard time burning belly fat despite exercising, your metabolism may also require some love and repair – especially if you have a past history of dieting.

If you’d like to learn more about how to repair your metabolism through nutrition, I have plenty of free resources on burning belly fat right here.

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If you’re looking to flatten that belly and banish the love handles, you’ll want to download this free guide to the 7 unknown ways to lose stomach fat. Get The Flat Stomach Secret now, for FREE, by clicking the banner below.
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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.