Best Upper Ab Exercises You Can Do at Home

Few things look as impressive as a set of well-defined upper abdominal muscles. For both men and women, a tight core with visible abs is the ultimate sign of being in great shape. For many of us, though, defined upper abs seems to be just as elusive as winning the lottery. Yet it needn’t be that way. In this article, we reveal the 7 best upper ab exercises that you can do at home whenever you’ve got a few spare minutes.

Combine Nutrition with Upper Ab Exercises

Before we delve into the ideal exercises to help define your midsection, it is important to stress the vital importance of nutrition in helping to achieve ab-defining results. Upper ab exercises will strengthen and define your stomach, but they will not remove fat from the area. That is because it is impossible to spot reduce body fat. Through calorie restriction and healthy, sensible nutrition, you will be able to lose fat from all over your body, including your stomach area.

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The 7 Best Upper Ab Exercises

For an exercise to qualify as an upper abdominal move, it should be what is known as a top-down exercise. That means that your legs remain stationary as movement occurs through the upper body, with the head and shoulders moving toward the midsection. Lower ab moves do the opposite, with the legs coming off the ground.

For most people, lower ab moves are more difficult than upper ab ones. As a result, it makes sense to hit the lower abs before the upper abdominals.

Wide Leg Cross Sit-ups

Lie on your back with your arms and legs outstretched and the legs apart. Tense your core and sit up to bring your left hand across your torso toward your right foot. Tense the abs in the contracted position before returning to the start position. Next, repeat on the opposite side. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.

Seated Russian Twist

Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Then, lean back to form a V shape with your thighs and upper body. Bend your elbows and place your hands by your ears. Now, using your core, twist to the right to bring your elbows across to the side. Hold the contracted position for a one-second count and then repeat to the other side.

Fitness woman working out on beach doing russian twists as the best upper ab exercises.
Using Your Core, Twist To The Right To Bring Your Elbows Across To The Side (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Bicycle Crunches

For these upper ab exercises, it is best to lie on your back and lift your legs into a tabletop position. Your thighs should be at a right angle to your torso. Next, bend your elbows and put your hands by your ears. Push your lower back into the floor. Now initiate a bicycle movement as you straighten one leg out. At the same time, bring the opposite elbow toward the bent knee. Continue the action with the opposite side of your body and establish a fluid motion, keeping the core tight the entire time.

Tabletop Crunch

Like with bicycle crunches, start lying on your back, legs lifted into a tabletop. Then, place your hands by your ears. Now crunch the abs to bring your head and shoulders toward your legs. Try to touch your elbows to your knees. However, don’t clasp your hands together behind your head, as this may cause stress to your spine.

Slim sporty girl doing abs workout at home.
Crunch The Abs To Bring Your Head And Shoulders Toward Your Legs (Image Source: Shutterstock)


Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Reach your legs back so your body forms a straight line, supported by your elbows and toes. Tense your entire core area without lifting your butt into the air. Hold for a length of time that is challenging but doable. 

Mountain Climber

Begin in a high plank, or the start of a standard push-up position, with your hands under your shoulders. Initiate the action by driving your right knee toward your right elbow. Once it makes contact, kick it back to the start position. Repeat from side to side in rapid succession.

Woman doing mountain climber exercise in her living room.
Initiate The Action By Driving Your Right Knee Toward Your Right Elbow (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Vertical Leg Crunch

Lie on the floor with your straightened legs reaching up toward the ceiling. Place your arms directly out to the sides. Lift your right arm up and reach toward your toes, coming up as high as you can. Hold the contracted core position for a second, then slowly lower and repeat with the other side.

The Best 7-Minute Upper Ab Exercises Workout

You can make use of each of these awesome upper ab exercises by combining them into a 7-minute workout that can be done anywhere that you’ve got room to get down on the floor. The only equipment you’ll need is a timer (your phone will do nicely).

Sports woman doing abs crunch workout at studio.
A 7-Minute Workout That Can Be Done Anywhere That You’ve Got Room To Get Down On The Floor (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Do each exercise for 45 seconds. You then have 15 seconds to recover and prepare for the next move. Here’s the workout:

  • Wide Leg Cross Sit-ups – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Seated Russian Twist – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Bicycle Crunches – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Tabletop Crunch – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Plank – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Mountain Climber – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off
  • Vertical Leg Crunch – 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off

Upper Ab Exercises for Your Best Body

You’ve now got a comprehensive upper abdominal workout to define and sculpt your core area. To keep up your workout motivation, we suggest sticking with this program for no more than six weeks. Then, change it up with burpee or plank workouts. Do this workout 3-4 times per week. Combine it with a calorie-reduced diet that focuses on lean protein, fibrous and starchy carbs, and healthy fats, and those defined upper abs will begin to reveal themselves.