The Ultimate Ab Circuit Workout For A Strong And Shredded Core

There are various abs routines that circulate social media or serve as abs workout challenges that involve performing ab circuits such as “8-minute abs.”

Choosing the best abs exercises for an ab circuit workout really comes down to considering the equipment you have available, your fitness level, and your abs workout goals.

In this guide, we will briefly discuss how to structure the best ab circuit workout routine based on your fitness level and ab strengthening goals, and provide two of the best ab circuit workout routines for you to try out.

We will look at: 

  • What Is An Ab Circuit Workout Routine?
  • The Best Ab Circuit Workout Routine

Let’s jump in!

A side plank.

What Is An Ab Circuit Workout Routine?

An ab circuit routine or an abs workout circuit routine is basically a series or sequence of ab exercises performed back to back without resting in between each exercise.

The “circuit“ component of an ab circuit workout routine means that you move right from one exercise to the next with little to no rest in between each movement, and you might cycle through all of the exercises in the circuit several times before stopping.

In this way, an abs workout circuit routine can help build muscular endurance in your abdominal muscles in addition to increasing strength.

Depending on the particular ab exercises you choose, the number of reps you perform, and whether you do bodyweight or ab exercises with dumbbells, weight machines, or medicine balls, will impact the effectiveness of your ab workout in terms of increasing muscular endurance vs muscular strength in the abs.

A Russian twist.

Ultimately, bodyweight abs exercises and longer abs circuits (like a 10-minute ab circuit or a 15-minute abs circuit workout) will be best for increasing muscular endurance in your abdominal muscles.

On the other hand, the best abs circuit workout for strengthening your abs and building abs muscles will include abs exercises with external resistance like dumbbells, cable machines, resistance bands, medicine balls, etc.

These workouts will use fewer reps for each portion of the abs circuit at a higher intensity level.

Ab exercises should help build core strength, which is vital for helping maintain proper posture, preventing low back pain, and optimizing exercise performance.

the Best Ab Circuit Workout Routine

Here are some of the best ab circuit workout exercises for a well-rounded, bodyweight abs circuit workout routine:

#1: Bicycle Crunches

  1. Lie on your back with your hands lightly supporting your head and elbows flared out to the sides.
  2. Draw your left knee up as you crunch up, tilting your right elbow towards your left knee.
  3. Crunch back down and then switch sides by bringing your right knee up towards your chest as you crunch up and twist your left elbow towards that right knee.
  4. Continue alternating knees to elbows as you crunch up.

#2: Forearm Plank Position with Forward Reaches

  1. Get in a forearm plank position and then lift one elbow off the ground at a time, keeping your hips and shoulders squared to the floor as you extend that arm forward in front of your body and then back into position.
  2. Move slowly, as the main purpose of this exercise is to build course stability while reducing your base of support and adding an element of movement/instability.
  3. Keep alternating arms.

#3: Reverse Crunches

  1. Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent to 90° so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor.
  2. As a unit, slowly drop your heels towards the floor, keeping the 90° bend in your knees.
  3. Make sure to squeeze your lower abs and perform a posterior pelvic tilt to keep your lower back flat against the ground without arching up.
  4. Move slowly and then draw your feet back up to the starting position.

#4: High Plank Shoulder Taps

  1. Get in a push-up position plank.
  2. Alternate shoulder taps by lifting one hand off of the ground and bringing it across your chest to tap the opposite shoulder.
  3. Again, remember to keep your hips and shoulders squared to the floor and brace your core.
  4. Move slowly and breathe throughout this core exercise.

#5: Bodyweight Russian Twist

  1. Hold a V-sit position (legs piked up or knees tucked but feet off the floor) and then bring your interlaced hands across your lap towards the floor on alternating sides of your hips back and forth.
  2. Try to keep everything in your body as still as possible except for your arms, so try not to allow your legs to shift to the right or left as you twist back and forth.

#6: Forearm Plank with Alternating Leg Raises

  1. Perform a forearm plank, but this time, lift one leg up towards the ceiling by squeezing your glutes.
  2. Slowly move it back into position and then switch legs.
  3. Again, keep your stable plank position the whole time with your hips and shoulders square to the floor, even as you lift one leg off of the ground.
  4. Beginners may need to start this bodyweight abs circuit exercise with a wider foot spacing than a normal forearm plank so that you have a broader base of support.

#7: Right Side Plank with Leg Lifts

  1. Beginners can do just a regular side plank in a beginner abs circuit workout, but as you get stronger, perform a side plank from your elbow and then lift the top leg straight up towards the ceiling to work your adductors and abductors on your inner thigh and outer thigh, respectively.

#8: Right Side Plank with Leg Lifts

  1. Perform exercise 7 but on the left side.

#9: Toe Touches

  1. Lie on your back and get in an L position so that your legs are straight up towards the ceiling.
  2. Put your arms on the floor back behind your head.
  3. Use your abs to crunch up, alternating your right hand towards your left foot and then crunch back down before crunching up the left hand towards the right foot.

#10: Up-Down Plank

  1. Alternate between the forearm plank position and the high plank or push-up position by lifting up one hand from the forearm plank, putting the palm on the floor, and then pressing through to push your body up into the push-up position and then follow with the other hand.
  2. Then, reverse the motion by taking one hand off of the floor, bending the elbow, and sinking down into the forearm plank, following with the other arm.

#11: Tuck Ups

  1. Lay on your back with your feet straight out in front of you and your arms straight up overhead.
  2. Use your core muscles to draw your knees up towards your chest and your upper body into a V-sit position and then untuck your legs and lower your upper body back towards the floor, hovering just above it but not touching down fully before beginning the next rep.

#12: Flutter Kicks

  1. Lay on your back with your hands tucked under the very top of your butt or the space in your lower back to make sure that it stays pressed into the ground.
  2. Lift your heels off the ground about 3 to 4 inches and then flutter them up and down, alternating one leg with the other.
  3. Only lift them about 6 inches. The closer they remain to the floor, the harder the exercise will be, but do not allow your feet to touch down until this abs circuit exercise is over. Keep your knees straight the whole time.

#13: Scissor Kicks

  1. Keep the same exact position and perform essentially the same exercise but instead of fluttering your legs up and down, scissor them in and out by crossing them over one another and out to the opposite sides.
  2. Again, you don’t need to have a wide range of motion and try to keep your legs as low to the ground as possible while still keeping your lower back pressed into the floor.
  3. If your lower back is arching up and your lower abs are not strong enough to perform a posterior pelvic tilt, lift your legs up higher to make this abs circuit workout exercise easier.

#14: Leg Lifts

  1. Keep the same position but this time, lift your legs together as a unit all the way up towards the ceiling and then slowly lower them back down without fully touching down.
  2. Then, engage all of your core muscles to lift them back up and continue this cycle.

Begin with doing 30 seconds of each exercise in this bodyweight abs workout routine.

Beginners can progress this abs circuit workout routine by adding a second set, so you will complete all of the abs bodyweight exercises one time through and then immediately start back at the first exercise without taking a break.

Advanced athletes can do this abs workout routine three rounds through without stopping for a total killer abs circuit exercise routine.

A tuck.

Here is one of the best ab circuits with medicine ball ab exercises to build strength in your abs and core muscles:

  1. Medicine Ball Russian Twist: Hold a V-sit position (legs piked up or knees tucked but feet off the floor) and then bring the medicine ball across your lap towards the floor on alternating sides of your hips back and forth.
  2. Medicine Vall V Ups: Lying on the floor with your arms straight up overhead holding the medicine ball. Engage your entire core to fold at your waist and bring your legs up straight and your arms up straight towards the ceiling, reaching the medicine ball towards your toes and then slowly lower back down, trying not to touch down completely.
  3. Prone Position Medicine Ball Weighted Superman lower back extensions
  4. Legs in a figure-4 position medicine ball crossover crunch to the right
  5. Legs in a figure-4 position medicine ball crossover crunch to the left
  6. Medicine ball wall ball crunches, catching and releasing the medicine ball with each rep
  7. Medicine ball toe touches: Lie on your back with your legs straight up into the air. Hold the medicine ball in your arms and crunch up, reaching the medicine ball towards your feet. Pause at the top, squeezing your abs, and then slowly resist gravity to return your upper body to the floor before beginning the next rep.

Consider doing this abs circuit for reps not time. Start with 8-12 reps per exercise.

Use the heaviest medicine ball you can handle with proper form and the full range of motion if your goal is to build strength and muscle mass.

For more core workout ideas, check out our guide here.

A leg lift plank.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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