This is the best way to strengthen your core, according to a PT

Having a strong core is essential for pretty much everything, from good pelvic floor health to overall quality of life.

Abs workouts for women:
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Having a strong core is essential for pretty much everything, from good pelvic floor health to overall quality of life.

If you're searching the web for an abs workout for women, chances are, you're keen to improve your core strength but not entirely sure where to start. Do you try weight training? Reformer Pilates? Or crunches galore?

First things first: know that an "abs" workout is actually just a targeted workout designed to develop both your core control and strength, explains fitness expert, physiotherapist, and founder of Lean with Lilly, Lilly Sabri. "In my opinion, the core is one of the least understood muscle groups and it's often neglected," she shares.

"Most people will complete their workout then add a few sets of abs crunches on the end as their core workout, when in fact your core needs a much larger variation of exercises, tempos and control to train it effectively."

We bought you our go-to ab toning exercises: next up, an easy to bookmark and doable-from-home abs workout for women from Sabri. Don't miss our guides to home workouts, workout recovery, and what to eat after a workout, while you're here. And for a simple-yet-effective abs workout, keep scrolling.

Abs workout for women: Three women working out

What is an abs workout?

As above, a set of moves specifically designed with your core in mind. "These workouts mainly involve mat based floor exercises and don't require any equipment," the expert shares (read our guide to the best yoga mats, here).

Fun fact: as many as 35 muscles make up your core, and you need your core to be turned on to complete all exercise - and a lot of day-to-day activities - effectively. "For example, workouts that are targeting your lower body - like deadlifts or lunges - still require core stability", she explains.

Did you know? "The most well-known of all the core muscles is the rectus abdominis - the outer layer referred to as the six pack - but the core muscles actually run way deeper than this. You can actually have a six pack without having a strong core," she continues.

Do note here: she emphasises that it's super important that when training the core that we consider all layers of the core, as deep as the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor.

Abs workout for women to try tonight

Why is Lilly's ab workouts one of the best? Short answer: her background as a physiotherapist has given her a deep anatomical understanding of the core, it structure and its functions.

Keen to give it a go for yourself? You're in the right place. Follow along in realtime as Lilly guides you through her go-to session.

How do I get abs? 

Having a strong core is about way more than just having a six pack - let us explain why.

"The definition of abs varies from person-to-person," the expert explains. "If, to you, it means having visible definition on your stomach, then you need to consider the bigger picture, as food plays a key part," she shares.

It's also worth considering that genetics play a pivotal role here, and some people are far more likely to have a visible six pack than others, purely because of their genetics.

So really, you want to focus on strengthening your core and in turn hone in on your nutrition if you're keen to get visible abs. But do know this: for some women it's not a realistic expectation, shares the expert. "Having the physical appearance of abs may be incredibly difficult and not be healthy for some women as it means being a low body weight," she explains.

Try this instead: Lilly encourages all women to focus on developing strength in their core muscles rather than aiming for one particular aesthetic goal. The above workout - as well as certain yoga classes and any gym classes with a focus on compound moves and full body training - will improve your core strength in no time.

Abs workout for women: women working out

Benefits of an abs workout: why is working your abs important? 

1. Strengthens your pelvic floor

You all know how important a strong pelvic floor is, and abs workout can work to strengthen your all-important pubococcygeus, ileococcygeuys, coccygeus and puborectalis muscles.

Do note thought: they only work to strengthen if moves are carried out correctly, so if you have any doubt you're doing them wrong, do watch a tutorial video on YouTube or ask a PT. (Don't listen to your gym anxiety - that's what they're there for!).

2. Improves your sporting performance

That is, a strong core = better overall strength and your body performing at optimum, rather than other muscles having to overcompensate for a weak core.

3. Prevents incontinence 

As above, your pelvic floor is super important, and core strength can be key to making sure it's not too weak.

4. Improves overall your quality of life

Lastly, a strong core is helpful for just about every aspect of your life, from lifting boxes to getting up in the morning.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.