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Strong and Sculpted Abs Workout with Free Download

Learn & Burn

Core exercises are an important part of a total body fitness plan. We all know it’s true, but many of us are guilty of neglecting abdominal exercises when we workout especially if time is limited.

A few months ago I talked about anatomy and the muscles that make up the body’s core. What about the benefits of having a strong core?

Here are 10 reasons why we shouldn’t skip the core exercises.

Benefits of Core Strength

  1. Your core muscles support your posture. The stronger more balanced the core muscles are the straighter your posture will be.
  2. Strengthening and stabilizing your core muscles targets fine motor skills so you can react quickly and stay balanced on unstable and/or changing surfaces.
  3. Strengthening the muscles around your midsection will give your abs a toned and flatter appearance.
  4. A strong core supports your spine making your entire body structurally sound, strong and stable. This allows you to safely use heavier weights as you progress your workouts.
  5. A Pain Free Back A strong core supports your back
  6. Maintains proper muscle balance throughout the entire human movement system.
  7. Allows for efficient acceleration, deceleration and stabilization during dynamic movements.
  8. Efficient movement and injury prevention.
  9. Sitting for extended periods of time is a strain on the body. A strong core can take some of the stress off the lower back.
  10. Perform functional and day to day life tasks easier. A lot of core muscles are used to pick something, put something on a shelf and to bend over to tie your shoe. With a strong core the less energy and effort it will take to perform simple daily tasks.

How can  you strengthen your core?

Core work is different from strength-training programs that isolate a single muscle group. Core workouts challenge as many muscles as possible with integrated and coordinated movements.

Isometric Core Exercises: In these moves, you’ll hold a position for a period of time instead of contracting your muscles through a range of motion. Examples: plank and bridge

Stability Ball Core Exercises: The stability ball provide serious benefits by adding a stabilization component to your workout and when doing core moves. The instability forces your body to engage both large and small muscles. Example: crunches

Dynamic Core Moves These workouts involve constant motion. These exercises involve moving from side-to-side, up and down or in all different directions (sometimes while holding a weight, medicine ball or kettle bell). In other cases, you’ll simply be doing workout moves while fighting against instability. Example: squat on a stability ball with your arms raised above your head

Core exercises are an important part of a total body fitness plan. We all know it's true, but many of us are guilty of neglecting abdominal exercises when we workout especially if time is limited. Here are 10 reasons why we shouldn't skip the core exercises. Click through to download the FREE ab workout and exercise index.

Right click the image above to save the workout to your mobile device or download the workout to print.


Equipment needed:

  • mat
  • timer
  • stability ball


  • Brace your core.
  • Use proper body alignment and good form.
  • Reps and rest periods should be based on your fitness level.
  • Modify as needed to meet your fitness level by increasing/decreasing reps, weight and sets.
  • Gradually increase intensity based on your progress.

I am a certified personal trainer, but this workout was not created for your specific fitness level and needs. Make modifications as needed. Intensity and rest periods should be based on your individual fitness level. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. Any application of this or any other exercise routine set forth in this program is at the viewer’s discretion and sole risk.

Exercise Index

Hip Raise and Lower 1) Begin in a forearm plank. Keep abs tight and don’t let your hips or back sag. (2) Inhale and contracting your core raise your hips so that your body forms an inverted V. (3) Exhale, brining your body back to a forearm plank. Targets: rectus abdominis, lower back, chest, shoulders

Bird Dog (1) Begin on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor and shoulder width apart. Your knees should be hip width apart and bent 90 degrees. (2) Brace your abs, and raise your right arm and left leg until they’re in line with your body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. (3) Return to start position. Keep you hips and lower back still throughout the move. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Each arm leg extension counts as 1 repetition. Targets: abs, back butt, hips

Cycling Russian Twist (1) Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. (2) Now sit about half way up keeping your chest and shoulders back being careful not to round your back. (3) Lift your legs so they’re elevated and parallel to the floor. (3) Holding your hands together in front of your body, extend your left leg and twist your torso to the right as you pull your right knee to your chest. Don’t let your legs touch the floor at any point during the move. (4) Now exhale and rotate your torso to the left as you raise your left knee and straighten your right leg. Twisting your torso to the left is one repetition and to the right is 1 repetition. Targets: rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique and transverse abs

Side Plank with Reach Under (1) Start by lying on your right side, legs extended, with your left foot stacked on top of you right. (2) Support our body weight on your right elbow forming a straight line with your body. (3) Keep your belly button pulled in and your hips raised. (4) Extend your top arm toward the ceiling. (5) Rotate your body to reach your extended arm underneath your body, then extended the arm back up to start position. (6) Repeat on the other side. Targets: core obliques, shoulder

Swiss Ball Jack Knife (1) Begin in push-up position with your arms straight and your shins on a stability ball. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Brace your core throughout the entire exercise. (2) Without changing your lower back position, roll the ball toward your chest by pulling it forward with your feet. (3) Pause, then return the ball to the starting position by rolling the ball backward. Don’t round your back at any time during the movement. A roll in and our is one repetition. Targets: rectus abdominis, obliques, thighs, gluteus, chest, calves

Cross Body Mountain Climbers (1) Start in a push up position with your arms completely straight and your hands directly under your shoulders. (2) Raise your right knee toward your left elbow, lower, and then raise your left knee toward your right elbow. (3) Repeat alternating back and forth for the prescribed number of reps. Knee to elbow is one rep.  Targets: cardiorespiratory system, chest, shoulders, lower abs, traverse abs


Plank (1) Start in a push-up position except keep your hands directly under your shoulders instead of outside of your chest. (2) Legs are straight out behind you with feet together. (3) You are balancing on your palms and the balls of your feet. Hold this position. Targets: rectus abdominis, lower back, chest, shoulders

Elevated Feet Plank (1) Slightly shorter than body length from a bench or chair start in a pushup position coming down to rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. (2) Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. (3) Brace your core by contracting your abs. (4) Bring both feet up on the bench, keeping your body straight. Targets: rectus abdominis, lower back, chest, shoulders

To make your workouts as convenient as possible, I’m adding an Exercise Index download to give you the information you need to perform each of the exercises in the workout.

Download to print the exercise index.

Exercise Index Download


Your workout plan for the week might look something like this:

Click through to get the weekly workout plan iuncuding FREE workout downloads and an Exercise Index.

You can download the 2 circuit workouts specified in the workout plan above here Make Time for Fitness and Make Time for Fitness 2

You might also like:

I would love to chat:

What are your favorite abdominal exercises? What’s on your workout plan this week?

be the best version of YOU


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  1. I remember I LOVED the 12 minute ab workout! I need to do these more, thank you for sharing again 🙂

  2. This looks really amazing. I don’t do enough to strengthen my core.

  3. I love this! I am also grateful for the index. You take the thought process out of working out with these easy, clear and awesome sets. Thank yoU!

  4. I just want you to know, you are my personal trainer :)! I have all your printables throughout the walls of my work-out area! I have been focusing on my abs and these will be another great addition to my routine.

  5. A good ab work out is a must! I will have to try this on days I dont feel like going to the gym.

  6. I really love doing pilates, especially for core strengthening. We have a large ball, too, that is great for workouts at home.

  7. i’m getting married this fall and definitely need to add this to my bridal workout #sweatingforthewedding

  8. Such great information here! I love seeing these posts! They explain everything so straight forward and easy to follow!

  9. My massage therapist talks about the core a lot. It was really helpful having him show me which muscles that actually is, so I could tell when I was working it correctly. He says that a lot of people with chronic pain that he works on are dealing with pain as a result of weak core muscles. So definitely something we want to focus on!

  10. Woo, Jill this looks like a killer core workout! I truly appreciate that you point out how important posture and form is. It’s something I always keep front of mind when working out. I’ll be working these ab moves into my workout scheduled asap.

  11. Oh Jill, you always get me doing something I’s never thought I’d do. Thanks for making exercise doable for regular women like me. I really have no excuse now!

  12. Wow..this is the defintely a powerful work out. Need a strong will to do this entire exercise. I wonder if you also make video for the exercises you posted.Great step to step, Jill.

  13. Such a great post. I have severe spinal issues and really need to strengthen my core. I’m going to try one or two and see how it feels.

  14. some of these i’ve never tried before! like the cycling russian twist – what a great mix of two exercises. Trying some of these tonight 🙂

  15. I would love to have strong and sculpted abs instead of a mommy belly. I need to get a move on and do this routine!

  16. I have to confess, this is the first time I am hearing about bird dog but by the sound of it it does sound like the most beneficial for me.Thanks for sharing!

  17. A strong core is so important! I love to do reverse crunches on a stability ball, it’s a great challenge!

  18. You always have such great instructions on how to do the exercises. Im always finding an easy way to cheat, but with your info I know the right way to perform the move Thanks!

  19. I love stability ball exercises. I find it extremely effective in targeting core muscles. I had a very nice workout with a stability ball this morning!

  20. This is some great information for strengthening your core. Posture makes a big difference when it comes to controlling back pain and discomfort.

  21. Love every single one of these ideas! I’m horrible when it comes to core work, which usually has me sore for days after once I actually remember to do some. Thinking this schedule will help a lot!

  22. I focus mostly on my core when I exercise. I am going to have to try this one.

  23. Perfect. Just in time for our summer body work-outs. Sculpting abs is a great workout b/c you can almost do it anywhere.

  24. I love these exercises! I also like the progressive increase in intensity. I’m six weeks postpartum and this will be a nice addition to my fitness program. Thanks!

  25. Building up my core strength was the only way I was able to overcome my back injury!

  26. Now that I’m running more again, it’s painfully obvious I need to strengthen my core. These are great exercises, so thanks for sharing!

  27. Hey Jill -love the LEARN AND BURN segment.. I think it is so important for long term adherence to know why we are doing an exercise and how the body works vs. just going through the moves!

  28. I need to do more of this. More strengthening of my core. And more planks. I can easily do a little each day and add on. Thanks for the reminder!
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  29. Okay, this might be TMI — but after having bladder leakage for YEARS post three 9lb babies, I was just living with “oops” and planning for how to handle at races by wearing dark, camoflauging shorts and having someone waiting with dry clothes at finish . . .it was bad, but scared to get surgery doctor was recommending . . plus didn’t want to be “out” and on forced fitness hiatus to recover. Sooooooooo, I really upped my core exercise game significantly and am THRILLED to report that this is 95% no longer an issue and if it ever is it’s just very minor . . .my theory is that the strong core just help lift everything back in place and take pressure off bladder.

  30. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Working on our core strength is definitely important. I think it;s the foundation of everything else. A strong core is everything.

  31. Adding this to my must do list! I will be honest and say my core is the most neglected area of my body!

  32. Wow! Such complete and detailed info on core strength. I needed to read this. I’m not into physical fitness. At. All. I understand the need. Just not mentally there. I could use a good post on getting to the right place mentally!

  33. I love a good ab workout! I get sick of doing the same interval routines so having these to add to my routine is amazing! Thanks Jill 🙂

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