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by heather marr

It's time to kick the crunches to the curb and really torch your abs! Get ready to leave your ego at home and put some work in. These core exercises are not for the faint of heart and require patience and discipline to master. Are you up for the challenge?

5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You for Later

Exercise 1: Weighted Plank Walk

Begin by placing a plate on a towel. Hook your toes onto the plate and assume a high plank. This is your starting position. Begin walking, using your hands, keeping your core tight. Avoiding shifting the hips as much as possible, keeping your core tight and body in a straight line. Each step your hand takes is one repetition.

Note: If this is too advanced, simply replace the plate with sliders or a towel. Once you master the move with your own bodyweight you can then increase the resistance.

5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You for Later

Exercise 2: Standing Ab Rollout

Begin standing feet approximately shoulder width apart. Using an overhand grip, grasp an ab wheel or barbell. Next, flex your hips to place the ab roller or barbell on the ground in front of you. This is your starting position.

Keeping your core tight, roll as far forward as you're able. Here you will be in a full plank position, and beyond, with the arms fully extended above the head. Slowly, with control, roll back to the starting position. That is one rep. 

Note: If this is too advanced, begin by mastering the rollout on your knees and then progress to a standing position. 

5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You for Later

Exercise 3: Human Flag

Begin by grasping a vertical pole with a mixed grip. The top hand will use an overhand grip, while the bottom hand will use a reverse or underhand grip. This is your starting position. The top arm will pull the body up into a horizontal position, while the bottom arm will push into the bar. Try to keep arms straight with the body tense. You will be perpendicular in the isometric hold. Maintain the position for the allotted time.

Note: If this is too advanced, begin by mastering the progression exercises with the vertical flag. From this position, it is also easier to lower into a human flag versus the set up from the ground.

5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You for Later

Exercise 4: Front Lever

Begin by holding rings or a bar using an overhand grip. Assume an inverted hang with arms approximately shoulder width apart. This is your starting position. Lower the body down into a fully horizontal position, no bending at the hips. You will be facing the ceiling in the isometric hold. The body should be stretched with toes pointed, in a straight line. Maintain the position for the allotted time.

Note: If this is too advanced, begin by mastering the progression exercises starting with the tucked lever. Here the knees will be pulled in towards the chest. 

5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You for Later

Exercise 5: Barbell Climb

Begin by placing one end of an empty barbell on the ground. It should be standing upright vertically. Stand away from the bar with your feet spread wide. Pull the bar towards you with both hands in a neutral grip position. (The bar will be at a slight angle.) This is your starting position. Begin climbing down the bar, one hand at a time, alternating hands. Descend as far down as possible, until the bar is no longer angled and is completely vertical. Keeping your core tight, and body in line, climb back up the pole, hand over hand, to the starting position. 

Note: If this is too advanced, begin by descending half way down the bar with the body angled at approximately 45 degrees.