Ab Exercises with Calisthenics

Abs are an important part of your body. But training them often gets skipped during workouts. Your abdomen are not just there to look nice and fit with a great six pack. In fact, they have an important function in stabilizing your trunk. You can do a lot of abdomen and core training with just callisthenics. We published the ultimate guide to core stability here. Strong abdomen will help with advanced exercises like the handstand, planche, front lever and the human flag.  In this article, we provide you with 3 static and 3 dynamic ab exercises with calisthenics.

About Your Abs

Your abdomen are split into three different sections. All three have their own benefits and need to be trained.

  • Rectus abdominis: Also known as straight abdomen (six-pack)
  • Obliquus externus and internus: Also known as the obliques
  • Transversus abdominis: also known asthe deep core abdomen 

To make your six-pack visible you need a low fat percentage and you must train the rectus abdomen. To get a good V-shape on your sides, you need the obliques. And finally, a strong transversus abdomis provides a strong core, which helps with all your exercises. 

Dynamic Ab Exercises with Calithenics

Sit-up 

Starting Position 

The sit-up is one of the very well-known ab exercises in calisthenics. Lay on your back on the floor or a fitness matt. Flex your knees in a 70 degree angleand press your feet firmly into the ground, especially your heels. Your hands can be placed crossed over your chest and put on your shoulders. You can also put them behind your head. But do not lift up your neck during the exercise. Lift up your shoulders from the floor and contract your abdomen.

How to Perform the Exercise 

From this position you can lift up your upper body and bend your back as far as you can and squeeze your abdomen together. Keep your feet on the ground and make sure you do not pull up with your neck. Now, slowly return to the starting position and make sure your shoulders are above the floor. If this is too hard you can do a crunch, a shortened sit-up. 

How to Progress 

Start with 3 times 10 reps. If that becomes easy for you, increase to 3 times 20 reps. Start increasing your range of motion (ROM) until you can take the next step. Slowly lift up your upper body until you can not go higher without your legs moving from the floor or using a quick momentum to come up. Instead, only use your abdomen. It is very difficult to perform correctly. If it starts getting easy, you can add a weight in your hands. 

Hanging V-knee raises 

Starting Position 

Grab the bar with a pronated grip. That means thumbs on the inside, palms facing forward. You can put your thumb on the lower or higher end of the bar. Your elbows must be slightly bend and your feet do not touch the floor. Retract your shoulders before you start and have an active hang (light scapula pull-up). Bend your knees as high as you can and contract your abdomen. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

It is important in these ab exercises in calisthenics that you work from your abdomen and not your legs. So while doing this exercise, keep your knees as high as possible and tilt your pelvis upwards. Try to make a V shape by lifting up the pelvis to the left, slowly return to the starting position and lift up to the right. Your upper body will move along but try to keep it in a straight line as much as possible.  

How to Progress 

Start with 3 times 5 reps and build up to 3 times 20 per side. If it gets easy, start using rings or a TRX instead of a bar. Your core needs to work much harder for the same reps. If this is still too easy, try a weighted vest.  

Side Crunches 

Starting Position 

Same as the sit-up but hold your hands in front of your chest. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Make a short sit-up (crunch) and try to touch the outer side of one knee with your hand. Make sure to return to starting position slowly and touch the outer side of your other knee.

How to Progress 

Start with 3 times 10 reps and increase to 3 times 15 reps per side. To increase the difficulty level, try to touch the outer side of your lower leg. Or hang a resistance band on the left side of your head when you side crunch to your right knee. The band increases resistance a lot. 

Static Ab Exercises with Calithenics

L-Sit 

Starting Position 

Stand between a parallel bar or paralletes. Grab the bar and make a full triceps extension. Make sure your trunk and head are aligned with your arms. Shoulders should be retracted and deviated. Bend your legs in a 90 degrees angle and keep them stretched, tuck your knees in if you are a beginner. Contract your abdomen. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Static ab exercises with calisthenics require you to hold the starting position for as long as possible. Make sure you perform this at your current exercise level. The more you stretch your legs to make an L-shape the more difficult it will be. 

How to Progress

Start with performing a nice L-sit for 30 seconds or more. If a tucked version is easy but the L-sit is not, try it first with 1 leg stretched and the other one tucked. Next, try straddled before you do the L-sit. This is a step by step progression and that is easier to complete. 

Once you can manage this, start progressing towards a V-sit. Start with tucked knees raising them as high as possible and try to stretch them to a V eventually. 

Plank 

Starting Position 

Start from a push-up position. Tuck in your toes, contract your abdomen and make sure your back is not hollow or convexed. Try to make a plank with your back next to a mirror. Shoulders are actively contracted with a retraction and lean on the palms of your hands or forearms, depending on difficulty level. If it is too hard with tucked toes you can lean on your knees and lift up your feet. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Hold on to the starting position on your level.  

How to Progress 

Start increasing difficulty level in the push-up position. You could spice things up with lifting up 1 leg and switching legs every couple of seconds. There are a lot of variations you can do. 

Side Plank 

Starting Position  

The side plank is another one of the better know ab exercises in calisthenics. Lay on your side, lean on your forearm and push your upper body from the ground. Your shoulders are active and retracted. Contract your abdomen and push your side upwards a bit. Your feet are on top of each other and just the outer side of your lower foot touches the ground. If you want to make this easier, bend your knees 90 degrees and lean on them. A yoga matt or a towel is preferred to not get hurt when holding this position longer. 

How to Perform the Exercise 

Hold on to the starting position on your level.  

How to Progress 

When the side plank with stretched legs is getting easy, try to hold your free arm stretched and lift up the upper leg. This makes keeping balance a lot harder.

abs exercises with calisthenics

Takeaway

With these 6 easy-to-do ab exercises with calisthenics you can rock hard abs and a great six pack. Of course, you still need to make sure to burn enough fat if you want your abs to be properly visible. Click here if you want to know more about changing your diet and burning fat to achieve your goals more easily. And be sure to check out our upcoming blogs about losing weight and getting toned.

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