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Think you’re hard core, or have a hard core? Prove it.

We’ve scoured the interwebs to find the five moves that’ll test your midsection like never before. Up to the challenge? Test your core strength and fitness freak status with the hardest ab exercises you’ll ever do (winners take bragging rights).


The move

  1. Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears, and hold them there. Keep your legs as straight as possible.
  2. Pull down on the bar as hard as possible to create tension in your arms and throughout your core.
  3. Contract your glutes, and lift your toes to the bar. Once you’ve reached your target, slowly lower your legs back down to reset.
  4. Simple, right?

Didn’t quite make it? Try adding hanging leg raises into your weekly ab workouts to build the strength to master this move.


The easiest way to make an exercise harder? Add some weight. That’s exactly what we did to this gymnast fundamental.

The move

  1. Grab a 1-2kg medicine ball, and place it between your ankles.
  2. Lie on your back, with both hands by your side and your legs out straight. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth (this will help to avoid neck strain).
  3. Brace your core, point your toes, squeeze the medicine ball and lift your head, shoulders and legs about 30cm off the floor, extending your hands towards your feet.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, or a minute, if you’re game…

Couldn’t quite hold it? Perform this move without a medicine ball a few times a week, and begin adding weight when you can hold the move for 60 seconds, for five sets. Or if you like moving pictures, this guy can show you easier variations of the hollow body hold.


Insanely challenging, even for fitness freaks, this move is definitely not a roll in the park.

The move

  1. Take an ab wheel, and begin standing tall with your feet hip distance apart.
  2. Bend forward until you can reach the floor with the ab wheel, and begin rolling away from your feet, until your entire body is stretched out. Ensure your toes stay on the ground the entire exercise.
  3. Using your core, roll back towards your feet, until you are in standing position again, or rocking on the floor in the foetal position, clutching your abs – whichever comes first.

If you fell in a heap after the first rep, try performing this exercise on your knees.


Think you’ve heard of every plank variation known to man? Well, this one takes the cake.

The move

  1. Lie on your right side and stack your feet on top of one another. Prop your body up on your right hand, keeping your hand directly beneath your shoulder and your arm straight.
  2. Extend your left arm so that your body forms a ‘T’. Maintaining this rigid body line, separate your legs, raising your left leg until your body forms a five-point star.
  3. Hold this position for as long as you can maintain a rigid torso. Brownie points if you repeat on the other side.

If your star wasn’t quite up to scratch, try first mastering this move with your legs together.


You knew this was coming. Dubbed the toughest ab exercise of them all is the near-impossible human flag, where your body basically floats mid-air at a right angle to the pole you’re clinging onto. To give you an idea of how hard this exercise is, the current Guinness World Record to hold this pose is a mere minute.

The move

This move can’t be explained, so here’s a video of hardcore guy to tell you what it’s all about.

If these exercises proved too much (no shame there) try supercharging your workout with these supersets to sculpt a body of steel.

Exercises courtesy of Men’s Health, Lean Muscle Project and LiveStrong