Top 5 Ab Exercises

As a Pilates teacher I can pick favorites- and no- I’m not talking about students. 

I’m talking about exercises!  I definitely have my favorite ab moves!  I’m giving you the Pilates scoop on my top 5.

Some of these are scientifically proven to recruit more muscle fiber, some are classic pilates moves and some are just fun to me!

Keep in mind if you want toned flat abs, most often nutrition is key. 

Abs really are made in the kitchen!  What you eat can shape your body fat percentage- which effects how much we can see your abs.

Genetics will play a major factor here… if you are naturally lean it will be easier for abs to show through. 

Your genes determine if you store fat in your abdomen or not- and those of us who do - well you can just say thanks to Mom and Dad!  And if it’s that the of the month, ladies -bloating can be normal but fear not!  Pilates has your back and from!

teaser jessi fit pilates top 5 ab exercises

Regardless of genes- I firmly believe that Pilates will really help to make your abs seem slimmer since we work on hollowing or bracing our abs.   

Plus keeping your core strong is good for your overall health and can help in sports performance and prevent injuries We won’t be just crunching- since your abs support your spine and its movements- we’ll be working our torsos in different directions!

So get ready to burn and bend with me…

I went live on Instagram with these moves a few weeks back (make sure you’re following me there so you never miss a live event)

Feel free to scroll down to see the full video or check the graphics and instructions for each of my favorite home ab and core strengthening exercises!

elbow plank jessi fit pilates top 5 ab exercises

5. Elbow Plank Twist

TARGETS : Abs/ Obliques/ Core/ Upper

WORKING ON: Strengthening abs and core, Stabilizing and rotating the spine, 


  • Start in elbow plank, stack shoulders right on top of elbows

  • Engage core. Stabilize upper body by engaging upper back

  • Twist hips to right as you exhale.

  •  Come back to elbow plank & inhale.  Twist left.

  •  Keep alternating for 5-10 each side. 

top 5 ab move elbow plank

4. Criss Cross (Bicycle)

TARGETS : Abs/ Obliques

WORKING ON: Strengthening abs and core, Mobilizing and rotating the spine, Coordination


  • Begin lying on your back and lift legs t table top as you pace hands behind neck and curl head up with side elbows

  • Brace abs twist to right as you tend opposite leg keeping hips and shoulders squared

  • Inhale as you return your torso to center and bring both knees to their starting positions.

  • Pause and then untwist, bring leg in before rotating and extending the other sides

  •  Keep alternating for 5-10 each side. 

criss cross ab exercise essi fit pilates best ab moves

3. Side Elbow Plank Crunch

TARGETS : Abs/ Obliques/ Core/ Upper

WORKING ON: Strengthening abs and core, Stabilizing and rotating the spine, shoulders & hips, balance coordination 


  • Side Elbow Position  with bottom knee supporting some of your weight- stack top ip over bottom hip

  • Try to keep bottom elbow at 90 degrees with shoulder aligned

  • Use waits line to lift out of bottom joints, wrap the abs like a corset around that low spine

  • Lift top leg UP then stretch it towards bottom foot

  • Exahle sand bend the knee to your chest

  • inhale to stretch it back out long

 For more of a challenge, lift off bottom knee and come to a full side elbow plank

Repeat for 5-10 each side. 

elbow side plank crunch.png

2. Double Leg Lowers


WORKING ON: Strengthening the abs and lower back, Stabilizing the torso while moving the limbs. Stretching / muscle lengthening of the legs, differentiating the leg bones from the hip bones/ pelvis


  • Lay back and imprint spine to mat. Legs reach up to ceiling.

  • Reach hands behind neck and keep elbows wide

  • Curl head up to chest & pull belly muscles in. 

  • Lower straight legs exhaling and slowly lift back up inhaling

  • Keep low back very still & gently pressing long to mat. 

Repeat for 10

double Leg Lowers.png


If you know me you just know this is my all time number one favorite!


WORKING ON: Strengthens and stretches the abs, core, spine hips and neck. Stretches the legs, and back. Increases abdominal control and coordination. 

  • Lay back on mat and lift log legs to a 45 angle.  Reach arms back, stretching shoulders

  • Reach hands to ceiling then lift chin up as you  & reach to toes, keeping shoulders soft. 

  • Round tailbone towards your heels and roll low  up from the mat a few inches at a time slowly until you are balanced on your bum, reaching arms up

  • Slightly lower arms and roll your spine one vertebra to the mat keeping tailbone rounded forward and legs at 45.

See the video for some modifications and more in depth cues and visuals

teaser best ab exercise jessi fit pilates

Let’s put them together now into one workout! I filmed this live on instagram and I had so much fun doing it with you:)

Which is your favorite?

Comment below and let me know!

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