Toned abs are at the top of everyone’s list of fitness goals. But it takes more than just a few crunches to get them. Bodybuilding.com says unless you’re eating properly and exercising on a regular basis, your abs are never going to show up. By adding these exercises into your routine, you can not only expect to burn calories, but you’ll also torch fat by increasing your heart rate and engaging multiple muscles at once. Get one step closer to having the abs you’ve always dreamed of with these 10 cardio exercises.
1. High knees with a twist
This move will not only help you reach your target heart rate, which NPR mentions is the zone that boosts calorie burn, but it will also help strengthen your glutes, legs, and abs all at the same time. Everyday Health says to perform this exercise, you’ll run in place with your knees reaching hip height (or higher for even more of a challenge). Keep your arms bent so your elbows are by your ribs, and with each move, twist the upper half of your body toward the knee that’s lifted. Make sure to keep your back straight and lift with your hips, not just with your legs. The faster you move, the harder your body works. It may sound simple, but you’ll definitely feel your muscles working after just a few reps.
2. Rotational jacks
Begin by standing with your feet together and arms at your chest. Then, jump up and land with your feet wider than hip-width apart, and then immediately lower your body into a squat. While you’re in a low squat, touch the ground with your right hand and reach your left hand up toward the ceiling, and then jump back into starting position to repeat the move. This time, you’ll have your left hand touch the floor and right hand reach toward the ceiling. This should be a continuous movement, alternating sides until exhaustion.
3. Knee strikes
Knee strikes are a great boxing exercise that will work both your back and abs. Begin by standing with your left leg slightly forward as if you’re in fighter’s stance, as per Health. Lift both your arms up above your head and reach your hands a little toward the left. Then, at the same time, bring your hands down toward your chest as if you’re pulling something down from the ceiling, and lift your right knee up to meet them. Next, quickly return your arms and legs back to the start, and immediately repeat the motion for 10 repetitions before switching sides. To make the most of this exercise, make sure that you’re squeezing your abs at the bottom of each move and that you don’t pause between reps.
4. Switch kicks
This exercise can definitely be challenging at first, but with practice, you’ll be a pro in no time. Switch kicks increase coordination and agility while also targeting your lower abs, which for many people, can be an extremely stubborn area. Livestrong.com demonstrates that you’ll begin this move by standing with your arms bent so your elbows are by your ribs, and hands below your chin. To bring this exercise into motion, kick your right leg straight out in front of you, lifting it so that it’s about level with your hips. Then, quickly switch sides and continue alternating for one minute. To boost benefits, do this exercise as quickly as you can to increase your heart rate.
5. Skater hops
With this plyometric exercise, you’ll boost your heart rate and target your abs, glutes, and thighs as a bonus, as mentioned by Self. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Then jump to the right and land in a crossover lunge so that your right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, and your left leg is crossed behind your right so that it’s bent at a 90-degree angle, too. Your left knee should be a few inches from the floor. Swing your arms to help keep you balanced as you jump, and try to touch the floor with your left hand as you land. Then, immediately jump to the left and repeat using the opposite arm and legs. Continue alternating sides for a few reps until exhaustion.
6. Squat thrusts
The squat thrust is a great cardiovascular and strength-training exercise that targets your lower body, arms, shoulders, chest, and abs all at once. Muscle & Fitness demonstrates how you’ll begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. From there, lower your body into a squat position and place your palms on the floor. Then, hop your legs back so you’re in a plank, quickly spring your feet back, then immediately jump back to starting position for one rep. Repeat until exhaustion.
7. Standing mountain climber
Mountain climbers are brutal but definitely effective, and this variation will get your heart pumping even harder since it adds even more cardio. Women’s Health says to start with 10 counts of high knees before immediately dropping into a plank to perform 10 mountain climbers, alternating between legs. This completes one rep. Next, jump back to starting position and repeat the exercise three more times.
8. Plank with bunny hop
This plank variation will definitely make you burn a ton of calories while working your abs. PopSugar says to start in a plank position with your feet together. Keeping your abs tight, jump your feet up toward your right elbow as your torso twists to the right, jump back, then repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 10 times on each side for one set.
9. Ab sprint
You can’t forget about your internal obliques when working your core because, as Fitness explains, they help you bend, rotate, and maintain proper breathing during exercise. Luckily, this move will target those muscles. Begin by balancing on your butt with one leg extended straight so it’s hovering just above the ground and your other knee bent toward your chest. Quickly alternate your leg positions as you pump your arms in a running motion. Complete until fatigued.
10. Knees and toes
This jumping sequence is a great cardio exercise that also engages your obliques and lower ab muscles. PopSugar demonstrates how to do this move. You’ll start with two high knees, crossing your right arm to touch the top of your left knee, and doing the same with your right leg and left arm. As you start the third high knee, kick your left heel inward toward your right hip and touch it to your right hand, then perform with your right leg. Continue this pattern for 30 seconds to one minute. You should really feel your heart pumping with this one.