Calisthenics Abs Exercises: The Best Moves to Strengthen Your Core

There are lots of benefits of having a strong core. Whatever your reason for wanting a strong core, give these calisthenics abs exercises.

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Wouldn’t we all like to have chiselled abs?

To be able to lift our tops and have a flat, non-wobbly, rock hard midriff?

Yeah. I’d love that too.

And whilst I can’t promise that with these abs exercises, I can promise you a super strong core.

A core that can do it’s job and help take the strain away from your lower back, your glutes, your knees.

Yep. Lots of pain can be a nasty side effect of a weak core.

So, if I can interest you in amazing core strength, let’s get to it.

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: The best moves to get a strong core.

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: Six-Pack Abs

Before we get to it, I want to have a little chat about six-pack abs. Or four-pack abs, or 11 abs. Whatever you refer to them as.

A chiselled waist line. I want to briefly touch on having a chiselled waist line.

Because, these exercises on their own aren’t going to get you that.

I want to come right out and say it. Set your expectations. I don’t want to mislead you, or lie to you.

Having defined muscles in your mid-section takes more than doing abs exercises. Even if they are the best, ultimate, all singing all dancing abs exercises.

There is no doubt you’ll get a stronger core, even if you’ve still got wobbly bits over the muscles, and that in it’s self has tangible benefits.

But, to get that six-pack look, you have to do so much more than these, or any exercises.

You also have to burn the body fat that sits over the muscles you’ll be building.

And that means, regular and consistent exercising. Abs workouts, cardio workouts, HIIT workouts and overall strength workouts. You have to do them all.

You also have to watch what you eat.

And very carefully.

Getting a six-pack is probably one of the hardest fitness goals you could choose. It takes dedication and hard work.

What you eat plays a massive role in it.

Think no chocolate. No wine. No lattes. No cake.

It’s a big commitment.

It’s definitely not one I’m willing to make. I love chocolate way too much and being a bit freer with my nutrition.

But, if you really, really, really want that six-pack, defined, muscular core, then do get in touch. Because I can help.

Wait, does that mean I’ll never have a flatter belly?

No. It doesn’t mean that.

Just because you haven’t, or don’t want to work towards a six-pack, doesn’t mean you’ll always have to have a big, wobbly middle.

Just losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more regularly will help you lose some of the flab all over your body, including your waist. So don’t stress too much.

Stick to the principles of healthy living, moving your body, eating healthily. And you will start to see an improvement in how your body looks and feels.

With that said, let’s get on with the exercises.

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Calisthenics Abs Exercises: Benefits of a Strong Core

There are lots of benefits of having a strong core. Better posture, better balance, better stability and less pain are just a few.

Calisthenics is essentially bodyweight training.

It’s strength training using nothing but your own body weight and gravity. So, you’ve guessed it, all of the exercises below are bodyweight exercises.

No additional equipment is required.

If you want to make them more challenging, and you have access to suitable equipment, then do feel free to use it. But I’m going to concentrate on the bodyweight versions of the movements.

There are some really cool calisthenics exercises that you can learn to do when you’re strong enough and have had enough practice. But one thing they all have in common is that you need a really strong core to do them.

So, even if you’re only slightly interested in doing a front lever, dragon flag or a handstand from sitting, working on strengthening that core is going to pay dividends in the long run.

Exactly what are the benefits of having a strong core?

Apart from it being flatter and being able to do really cool shit?

Well, for starters your core is probably the most important part of your body. It’s your core. The core of you. Most of your really important organs are housed within it.

Your stomach, your intestines, your heart, your bladder, your womb and ovaries. A strong core will help protect all of these organs.

Also, a strong core can help you live pain free. Or with significantly less pain anyway.

That’s because, if your core isn’t strong other parts of your body will try to take over. Your lower back mainly.

Your lower back muscles starts to do the work your core should be doing. And that just leaves you in pain.

The last benefit of a strong core, well, it’s not the last one, there are hundreds of benefits of having a strong core, but these are the ones I think you’ll be able to relate to….your posture is going to be better.

We all do it, don’t we, slump our shoulders.

When we’re sitting. When we’re looking at our phones. When we’re standing in the playground waiting for our kids to get off the trampoline.

Our shoulders slump forward and down. Our neck comes forward.

That can lead to a weak core, and it can be caused by a weak core.

Strengthening your abs, your hip flexors, your glutes and your lower back is going to help.

It’s going to help you stand up better and that means you’ll be less achy, overall.

Ok. I’ve held you up for long enough.

Shall we get to the exercises?

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: The Best Calisthenics Exercises for Your Abs

As I’ve mentioned, these are all bodyweight exercises. You don’t need any special equipment. They all have different variations, so if you’re finding it too difficult, or too easy, you should be able to scale it to fit your fitness levels.

Most of these exercises are compound exercises, that means they work more than one muscle group.

Leg raises for example, work your rectus abdominis, your glutes, your hamstrings.

Planks, if done correctly can work your entire body.

Leg Raises

Leg raises are great for working your rectus abdominis, your six-pack muscles.

Leg Raises, also know as leg lifts, help to strengthen your legs as well as your core. And they’re great if your knees are a bit ouchy and you can’t do squats. But, that’s a story for another page.

They’re a really simple exercise. Not easy. No exercise is easy. If it is you’re not trying hard enough, ha. But they are a simple one.

They work your rectus abdominis, the muscles you’d probably know as your six pack abs.

To make sure your abs get the benefit of this movement, they are best done lying on the floor. If that’s not possible you can do them standing up, but make sure the movements are really slow and controlled. That will ensure your core is being worked.

So, lie on the floor, your arms can be stretched out to the side, if you need a bit more assistance, or they can be down by your side.

Make sure you engage your core and push your lower back into the floor, and as you do lift your legs.

You can do one at a time, it’s tougher if you do both together, but you decide where you are.

Lift your legs until they’re straight up in the air, pointed at the ceiling and then lower them back down. Don’t let them touch the floor. Lower them as much as you can, but don’t let your lower back lift off the floor.

And then lift them back up.

Repeat for the required time or required number of reps.

If you want to make these harder, you can try a hanging knee raise. You’ll need a bar, of some kind, to hang from. A pull-up bar for example. But monkey bars at the park would work just as well. It’s going to test your grip strength as well as your core strength, just to warn you.

Hold onto the bar, making sure your shoulder blades are back and down, away from your ears.

Lift your feet off the floor, with your knees bent.

Then lift your knees up to your chest, or as far as you can get them up.

And repeat.

Windshield Wipers

I’ve mentioned windshield wipers on a few of my pages...they’re one of my favourite ab exercises.

They’re great as they’ve got a rotation movement in so they work your internal obliques and your external obliques. That’s your side abs. They’re the muscles that cinch you in at the waist.

They’re another lying down movement, and for the life of me I can’t figure out a way to do them standing up. So you if you can’t lie down, then you’ll have to find another exercise to work those obliques. But don’t worry, there will be one.

So, for windshield wipers, lie on the floor with your arms stretched out to the side.

Engage your core and lift your legs straight up in the air. Keep your core engaged and your lower back pressed into the floor as you lower your legs down to ones\ ide, but not all the way to the floor. Lift them back up, through centre and down to the other side.

Repeat for the required time, the required number of reps, or until you can’t do any more.

I’m joking with the last one. You shouldn’t do any ab exercise until you can’t do any more. It’s called training to failure and is not good for your ab muscles.

There may be other instances where that’s appropriate, but not your abs.

Ok? Ok, let’s move on.

Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is an exercise that works your obliques, your side ab muscles. This is how you do them.

The bicycle crunch has to be a classic exercise. Another one that works those obliques.

It’s very similar to a crunch so if you struggle with those, maybe stick to something like windshield wipers instead.

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet near your bum.

Engage your core and keep your lower back pressed into the floor. Raise your head and shoulders and your feet off the floor. Bring your right knee and your left elbow together, as close as you can, return back and then repeat on the opposite side with your left knee and right elbow.

Keep going for the required time or number of reps.

Reverse Crunch

A reverse crunch is great if you find normal crunches challenging. They are still challenging, but they’re done in a different way.

I find crunches really quite difficult.

I tend to use my neck quite a bit, which leaves me with a bit of a headache, so reverse crunches are brilliant for me.

Again, lie on the floor with your arms stretched out, by your side, or if you’re struggling with this one, you could put your hands under your bum.

Engage your core and make sure your lower back is firmly pressed into the floor and lift your feet off the floor. Your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees. This is the starting position.

Then lift your bum off the floor and your hips towards the ceiling. Lower your bum back down to the floor coming back to the starting position.

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: Isometric Exercises

The exercises we’ve just covered are all dynamic exercises. They involve movement. These next ones are what we call isometric exercises, or static core exercises. There’s not movement involved.

You get into position and you hold.

I find these movements a lot tougher.

If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to hold them for very long.

You might only manage a few seconds. That’s ok. Push yourself sure, but don’t over exert yourself. Have a little break, reset and go again.

You’ll find that it gets longer.

But remember, these will always be tough.

You will get stronger, but the exercises will always feel tough. Because you’ll be going for longer, trying harder. If they’re getting easy try a harder variation.


The plank is a classic ab exercise. It's an isometric exercise meaning you get into position and hold.

Planks are a classic ab exercise.

Even if you’ve never done exercise before, you’ve probably come across the plank.

It’s a staple in yoga and it works all of your abdominal muscles.

There are quite a few variations as well, like the side plank, reverse planks and a few dynamic exercises based on the plank. But, I’m going to stick to the classic.

The high plank.

To do it, get into a push-up position, so on the ground, hands under your shoulders and your feet should be raised onto your toes.

Making sure your core is engaged, hold this position.

That’s it, just hold.

If you are finding it tough you can drop your knees to the floor. Still make sure your core is engaged and get back onto your toes when you’ve had a bit of respite.

Other variations would be on your forearms rather than your hands. That’s called a low plank.

Again, you can drop your knees to the floor if you need to.

Hollow Hold

A hollow hold is an isometric ab exercise. It's tough so if you're struggling come back down, reset and start again.

The hollow hold is kind of like an upside down plank. It’s another toughie, but there aren’t really any regressions for it. So, if you’re struggling, come down to the ground for a few seconds. Rest, reset and go again.

It’s far better to try a few seconds at a time and get stronger, than to not try at all.

So, lying on the ground with your legs stretched out straight and your arms by your side, engage your core and lift your legs, head, neck, shoulders, upper back and arms off the floor.

The only thing that should be left on the floor is your mid and lower back and your bum.

Your lower back should be pressed firmly into the floor.

Hold this position, for as long as you can.

Remember to come down and rest for a few seconds if you need to.

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: Lower Back Exercises

An important part of strengthening your core muscles, is strengthening your lower back muscles. You might think it’s a bit weird, because your back muscles are not your ab muscles.

But, remember you’re strengthening your core muscles here. Not just your ab muscles.

And your lower back, is a very big part of your core.

So, what are the best exercises to strengthen your lower back?

Back Raises

Laying down on the floor, face down, arms out to the side, shoulder blades should be back and down, away from your ears.

Once you’re in position, engage your core and lift your shoulders up towards the ceiling.

Lower back down and repeat.

To make this a bit harder lift your legs off the floor as well. That’s called a superman.

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: Increase the Strength of Your Core

Working on your core is really important for your health. It’s not just about how your body looks.

And these calisthenics abs exercise will help you get a really strong core. 

Make sure you can do all of the exercises in a workout before you attempt it. And if you need help with that, you know you can ask.

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Can I get Abs with Calisthenics?

Yes, you absolutely can build a great set of abs with calisthenics exercises. It’s important to remember however, that the exercises, even the workouts, on their own aren’t going to get you a six-pack.

You also need to be very focused with your nutrition and have a well balanced fitness routine that covers overall fitness and strength.

What are calisthenics abs exercise?

Essentially any bodyweight exercise that works your core muscles, your ab muscles is a calisthenics abs exercise.

  • Leg Raises
  • hanging knee raise
  • Windshield wipers
  • Reverse Crunch
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Planks
  • Hollow Hold
  • Back Raises

What are the benefits of a strong core?

Your core is a really important part of your body. It houses quite a few of your internal organs. Making sure it’s strong and can do it’s job properly is really important for your health.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved posture
  • less pain, particularly in your lower back
  • Better athletic performance