When attempting to strengthen your core, it is important to hit both your upper and lower abs. Bodybuilding.com has put together a routine comprising of seven basic abdominal exercises. Do this three times a week, along with a healthy diet, some cardio, and you’ll see results soon enough.

Equipment needed: Exercise mat (if you don’t have one, try using a carpet or a wooden floor instead)

1. Sit-ups

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands on the back of your head. As you exhale, gently raise your torso by bending your hips and waist. Lift up until your torso is a few centimetres from your thighs. Inhale as you return to the start position.

15 – 20 reps.

2. Leg Raises

Lie on the floor on your back with your legs together and fully extended. Slowly raise your legs from the hips, keeping your legs in a straight line. Keep your toes pointed up and your back flat on the ground with your hands at your sides. Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle, and slowly lower them back toward the ground without touching the ground.

15-20 reps.

3. Jack Knife

Lie flat on an exercise mat on your back with your arms extended straight back behind your head and your legs extended also. As you exhale, bend at the waist while simultaneously raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position. The upper torso should be off the floor. While inhaling, lower your arms and legs back to the starting position.

15-20 reps.

4. Knee pull-ins

Lie on an exercise mat. Bend your knees and raise your legs so that they form a 90-degree angle. Place your palms under your glutes or facing down beside you.
Next, begin the exercise by extending your legs out and touching the floor with your toes so that you feel a tight stretch in your lower abs. Return to the starting position, inhaling as you do so.

15-20 reps.

5. Toe Touches

Lie on an exercise mat. Place your arms alongside your torso, hands on the mat. Lift both legs so the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Roll your head, neck and shoulders off the mat as you reach your hands toward your toes. Pull your abdominal into your spine as you lift up and maintain a strong neck – neither curling it to your chest or letting it fall back. Hold the position, with your shoulder blades lifted off the floor, for two to four counts. Slowly release your upper body and arms to complete one repetition.

15-20 reps.

6. Crunches

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head so your thumbs are behind your ears. Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few centimetres of space between your chin and your chest. Gently pull your abdominal inward. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement and then lower slowly back down.

15-20 reps.

7. Reverse crunches

Lie on the ground in a traditional crunch position, your feet flat on the floor and hands underneath your head. Press your lower back into the floor and pull in your belly button to lift your feet off of the floor. Keep your knees together, bent at 90-degree angles. Using your core, pull your knees to your chest so that your tailbone raises off of the ground, and simultaneously perform a traditional crunch, lifting your shoulder blades off of the floor. Use your abs, not your hands, to lift your head and shoulders. Slowly lower your shoulders, hips, and legs to return to the starting position. Stop when your feet are just above the floor.

15-20 reps.

Repeat this set 3 times.