The best cardio for abs are exercises that (1) increase your breathing, (2) get your heart rate up, and (3) improve your core endurance.
As such, specific exercises are more suited to accomplishing these goals. So we put together a complete list of exercises that you can implement in your next workout. .
The 13 best cardio exercises for abs are:
- High Knees
- Elbow to Knees
- Tuck Jumps
- Switch Kicks
- Jumping Lunge
- Mountain Climbers
- Bear Crawl
- Plank Jacks
- Plank Side Foot Taps
- Plank With Bunny Hop
- Plank To Low Squat
In this article, we’re going to explain how to perform each of these exercises and provide 3 sample workouts that will improve your cardiovascular endurance while simultaneously working on that core.
Quick Note For Getting Visible Abs
While doing cardio exercises that focus on the abdominal core will help build and strengthen your muscle, you need to follow a good nutrition plan for them to be visible.
For most, this will mean eating at a caloric deficit and consuming enough protein to get those strong, visible abs.
For more resources on this topic, you can check out our other articles:
Need a workout program? Get 3 free workouts on Fitbod right now.
13 Exercises For The Best Cardio For Abs
If you want some great abs workouts, then check out the FitBod app. FitBod will generate a customized workout for you, based on the muscle group you want to focus on, the equipment you have, and your fitness level. In the meantime, here’s a list of the 13 best cardio exercises for abs.
Sprinting is a great cardio exercise to work your abs as you naturally engage them when you run. Not to mention, the high-intensity nature of sprinting will mean you burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
How To Perform Sprinting
- Look straight ahead at the starting line, with one foot in front of the other, in a high lunge. Keep your knees bent and your back heel off the ground so you’re on your toes and your toros straight. The opposite hand to your front foot should be in front with the other behind.
- Push off the ground and start running as fast as you can, staying on the balls of your feet. Ensure you’re looking straight in front of you, pumping your arms back and forth at the same time as your legs.
- Sprint until you reach the finish line.
2. High Knees
High knees are a great cardio exercise that activates the abs. They’re a form of standing ab exercise that really work the lower abs and the obliques without any need for equipment or machines.
To really get the most out of your high knees for your abs, it all comes down to core engagement.
You have to make sure that you are bracing and squeezing your abdominal muscles which will not only help turn them on but also assist with stability and balance, which you’ll need for this standing exercise.
How To Perform High Knees
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forwards. Look straight ahead.
- Lift your right knee up until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure you engage your core so that you can keep balanced on one leg.
- Push off your left leg, the foot that is on the ground, and bring that knee up high. Simultaneously bring the right foot down to the ground.
- Alternate knees as fast as you can.
Notes: For a beginner-friendly version, lift your knees to your chest and return it to the ground before swapping knees. As you improve, you can start to increase your speed.
3. Elbow To Knees
Elbows to knees is a similar exercise to high knees that also activate your core muscles. The difference between these two exercises is that aiming to get your opposite elbow and knee to touch, emphasises your obliques.
By twisting your torso from side to side, you’ll work the side of your stomach, which is where you should feel the burn.
How To Perform Elbows to Knees
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead and your torso straight. Hold your hands out to the side, bent at the elbow so it makes a 90-degree angle.
- Bring your right elbow down at the same time as tucking your left knee up. Touch your elbow to your knee while hopping on your right foot.
- Bring your left knee down, jumping your legs back to the starting stance as well as your arms.
- Then, hop on your left foot, tucking the right knee into your chest and touching it with your left elbow.
- That is one rep. Repeat until all your reps are complete.
4. Tuck Jumps
Tuck jumps really get your heart pumping while working your abdominal muscles. The ab activation comes into play as you need to brace and squeeze your core to remain balanced. Not to mention, when you crunch down as you prepare to jump, this will work the lower abs.
An added bonus of this standing ab workout is that it will help burn more calories as you will get your heart rate up through the jumping. The more calories you burn (paired with good nutrition), the more visible your abs will be as well.
How To Perform Tuck Jumps
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead with your arms by your side, toes pointing forwards.
- Slightly bend your knees.
- Drive through your feet and jump as high as you can. At the same time, bring both knees into your chest, tucking them in. Touch your hands to your knees.
- As you land, extend your legs again, bending your knees as you touch the ground.
- Immediately, jump into your next rep and repeat.
Notes: If consecutive tuck jumps are too challenging, then once your land after your first rep, take a moment to rest before jumping into your next rep. However, try to get into a rhythm so that it makes your set easier. For example, rest for one beat consistently between each jump.
5. Switch Kicks
Switch kicks is another heart-pumping, calorie-burning ab movement. Like the tuck jump, your abs will be activated as jump (or in this case, hop).
But the switch kick will fire up your core even more so through the necessity of balancing on one leg at a time. This means, you will really need to brace to remain upright and stable.
How To Perform Switch Kicks
- Stand upright with your toes pointing forward, feet shoulder-width distance apart. Bring your arms up to your chest, bending at the elbows. Close your hands in fists.
- Bring your left knee up into your chest, engaging your core to keep your balance. Then, flick your foot out to extend your left leg, kicking it out in front of you.
- Bring your left leg down to the starting position. As it gets closer to the floor, hop onto your left foot and at the same time, bring your right knee up to your chest, flicking that leg out into a forward kick.
- Continue to switch legs as you kick until you’ve completed your set.
Notes: If you’re not able to jump between kicks as you switch legs, then bring your kicking leg down to the ground completely before changing to the other side. As your cardiovascular endurance improves, you can start incorporating the hop between the reps.
6. Jumping Lunge
When you do a basic forward or reverse lunge, how do you remain balanced? That’s right, through your abs. You need to turn your core on to remain balanced as you move your legs back and forth.
Now, adding a plyometric jump in between means that you’re going to be relying even more on your core to remain stable as you alternate legs.
How To Perform Jumping Lunges
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms by your side or bend them at the elbows and hold them in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees slightly and jump up into the air. As you do so, split your legs so that your left leg comes in the front and your right leg is behind you. Keep them as equal distance to your body as possible.
- Land in this lunge position, bending at the knees and dropping down until your back knee is an inch off the ground. You’re going to have to really contract your abdominal muscles to keep your balance in the stance. Keep your shoulder back and down and your chest up.
- Then, lift off the ground and jump again, switching legs mid-air.
- Land with your right leg is forward and your left leg is back.
- Continue until all your reps are complete.
Burpees is a full-body exercise that works your upper body, lower body and of course, your abs.
It’s a multi-step movement that requires you to engage your core the entire time you perform it but particularly in the plank position as you go down to support your spine and remain stable as well as through the contraction of your core when you’re bringing your legs back in to jump back up.
How To Perform Burpees
- Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forwards. Keep looking ahead and your arms should be by your side.
- Bend your knees, bringing your hands to the ground.
- Push your feet and legs behind you until they’re extended.
- Drop your chest to your ground.
- Then, lift your body off the ground, jumping your feet into a squat position and standing back up.
- As you stand, use the momentum to jump high in the air, bringing your hands overhead and reach for the sky.
- As you land, put your hands back to the ground, ready for your next rep.
Notes: There are many versions of the burpee though the one that we’ve just described is the advanced basic version. If you want an easier method, then do this instead:
- Follow the above steps 1-3.
- Then, instead of dropping your chest to the ground, once your legs are extended, jump them straight back into a low squat.
- From there, stand up.
- You can add in the jump or omit it. Another alternative is to just reach your hands to the sky while your feet remain on the ground.
8. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers is a cardio-based movement that also emphasizes working out the abdominal muscles. As you are in a high plank position, you need to engage your core to support your spine and stability.
Not to mention, the high-intensity nature of this movement means that you’ll burn more calories that’ll help promote fat loss.
How To Perform Mountain Climbers
- Begin in a high plank position so you’re on your hands and feet. Ensure your wrists are directly below your shoulders and your legs are extended. Your body should also be in a straight line from head to toe; your hips shouldn’t be sticking up in the air or dipping to the ground.
- Bring your left knee into your chest while your right foot remains where it is.
- Then bring your left knee back to the ground. Simultaneously, tuck your right knee into your chest.
- Keep switching legs until you’ve completed the set number of reps or the working time.
Notes: An easier method is to bring a knee into your chest and then put it back to the starting position before changing legs instead of switching them mid-air.
9. Bear Crawl
Don’t be misled by this simple movement—it promotes a killer workout for your abs.
The key to the bear crawl is maintaining a stable torso and preventing your body from moving side to side with your hands and feet by squeezing your abdominal muscle.
Don’t try to go fast but keep it slow and controlled. You’ll feel the burn in your abs in no time.
How To Perform The Bear Crawl
- Begin on all fours—your hands and feet. Keep your back straight and your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Push yourself off the ground by an inch or two but maintain the same position.
- Lift your left hand and your right foot and simultaneously bring them both forward the same distance. Place them back on the ground.
- Then, do the same with the opposite sides—your right hand and left foot. Again, bring them forwards, ensuring they’re both moving at the same time for the same distance.
- Keep crawling until you’ve reached the length of the floor.
- Turn around and come back the other way.
10. Plank Jacks
Planks are a great way to work your abs as it assists in keeping your body straight and stable. It’s an exercise that relies dominantly on engaging the abdominal muscle.
Now, by adding some jumps to make it a plank jack, the need to squeeze your core increases because it’s harder to maintain a straight spine when you’re jumping your feet in and out, making it a really great cardio workout for your abs.
How To Perform Plank Jacks
- Get into a high plank position with your wrists below your shoulders and legs extended. Be on your toes and ensure that your body is in a straight line.
- Brace and jump your feet out wide to either side—your left foot should move further to the left while your right foot moves to the right.
- Try to land both feet simultaneously.
- Then, jump again, bringing both feet back to the middle.
- That’s one rep. Repeat.
Notes: As you jump, try not to lose your form. Keep the tightness in your body by squeezing your core and lower body.
11. Plank Side Foot Taps
This is an easier version of the plank jacks, so if that’s too difficult for you, then do plank side foot taps instead. It’ll still get you a cardio workout while focusing on your muscles.
Keeping your body straight is so important whenever you’re in a high plank position and it becomes even more important when you’re moving your feet back and forth.
This is because your body will naturally want to move from side to side, along with your feet. To maintain a stable trunk, you need to engage your abs and squeeze tightly.
How To Perform Plank Side Foot Taps
- Get into a high plank. This means you’re on all fours, supporting yourself on your toes and hands. Keep your fingers facing forwards.
- Make sure that your body forms a straight line by contracting your core and squeezing your legs tight. Tuck your pelvis in and don’t let your hips lift up or fall towards the ground.
- Lift your left foot off the ground slightly and move it further to the left.
- Tap it to the side.
- Bring the left leg back with your right.
- Then, take your right foot and do the same with it–tapping it further on the right-hand side before bringing it back in.
- That’s one rep. Now repeat.
12. Plank with Bunny Hop
The plank with bunny hop requires strong abdominal engagement. Like we’ve mentioned before, you need to ensure that your body and spine remains straight so that you can have correct form.
Adding a bunny hop in there means that you need to work harder at engaging your core to do so.
Not to mention, the contraction of your lower abs as you prepare to bunny hop in means that you get an extra core workout at the same time.
How To Perform Plank with Bunny Hop
- Begin in a high plank formation, resting on your wrists and toes. Keep your arms extended and your body in a straight line, engaging your core and squeezing your glutes and quads.
- Drive through your toes and jump your feet out to the right-hand side. Tuck your knees in so your feet come close to your body.
- Then, jump your feet back out to the starting position.
- After that, hop your feet towards your body but this time to the left side. Then, return to your starting position.
- That counts as one rep. Now, repeat until your set is complete.
13. Plank to Low Squat
Similarly to the plank with bunny hop, the plank to low squat works your abdominal muscles. You’ll feel the burn in the high plank position as you use it to maintain your balance as well as in your lower abs when you contract them when you jump into a low squat.
How To Perform Plank to Low Squat
- The plank to low squat starts with the high plank position. Position your wrists directly beneath your shoulders with your body in a straight line.
- Engage your core and tuck your pelvis in. Then, start to walk your hands backwards, bring your hips back and bend your knees until you’re in a low squat.
- Lift your hands off the ground, keep your knees out and your hips back. Ensure your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Hold this position for a moment.
- Bring your hands back to the ground and walk them forwards, shifting your weight forward until you are back in the high plank position. Remember, your legs should now be straight and your hips in a straight line with the rest of your body.
Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try 3 free workouts on Fitbod.
Best Cardio for Abs Workouts
To get you started on your cardio and abs, here are 3 different workouts that you can try:
Cardio Workout For Abs #1
5 rounds: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off:
- High knees
- Jumping lunge
- Plank side foot taps
- Bear Crawl
- Plank with bunny hop
Cardio Workout For Abs #2
- Burpees – 3×10
- Switch kicks – 3×10 (each leg)
- Mountain climbers – 3×20 (each leg)
- Sprint – 3x20m
Cardio Workout For Abs #3
5 rounds: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off:
- Tuck jump
- Plank to low squat
- High knees
- Jumping lunges
- Plank jacks
These workouts are a great start, but the key to results is putting the workouts in a structure that allows you to progress. That’s where the Fitbod app comes into play. It will take your logged training data and progress the workouts in the best way possible. Get 3 free workouts HERE.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.