Ab exercises are plentiful across the internet and in any gym or training plan. You’re never really short of choice when it comes to deciding the best way to train them. From your obliques, lower to upper abs, you’re spoiled for choice. As good as this is, this can often lead to getting a little too comfortable with whichever exercises you prefer, and not necessarily getting the most out of your workouts. This is where we can really spice things up by playing the wildcard that is; a bench.

You can, of course, do almost any ab exercises on a bench that you can do on the floor, this goes without saying, but there is way more variation than you may be giving the bench credit for. You can hit your abs with your favourite exercises at really new and unique angles to give them the shock they need to really hit the next level of strength or definition that you’re looking for. Here are a few ideas:

Deficit Sit-ups


Perhaps one of the most obvious exercises that you can do on a bench to hit your abs is the deficit sit up. There are ab benches practically designed for this exact exercise, and it really does hit your abs hard. You’re upper abs especially. You even have the option to add weights to the exercise if this gets too easy for you. All you need to do is firmly position your legs, so you're anchored and lower yourself to the decline angle. Contract your abs to pull yourself upwards, hold, and repeat; you'll soon see why they're so iconic.


Cross overs aren’t a particularly common ab exercise, but they do give a unique angle to hit your obliques pretty hard without the need for a weight, and they can be done at practically any fitness level. Place your hands on the bench and your feet on the floor so that it looks like an incline push up, but then bring one arm under and across your until you can reach no further. This twisting of the core is what is going to hit your obliques specifically. Of course, make sure you do both sides evenly to avoid overtraining.


This time you need to sit on the end of the bench with your legs hanging off it. The use of the potential hanging off a flat bench is still a great way to open up a world of possibility for ab variation. This angle leaves you in a prime position for you to bring up your knees as high as you can to your core/chest and contract your lower abdominal muscles. Hold the contraction and repeat for the full set. You can add a slight crunch type motion at the peak of the exercise for a V like movement and get a mid/upper ab contraction too, depending on your core strength.

Deficit Crunches

Woman performing a deficit crunch

Much like the sit-ups, the deficit crunch is another great exercise that utilises a classic exercise with the angle. It’s practically the same set up as the deficit sit-up, but of course with a different motion range. This is what gives a more concentrated contraction in a more localised area, but with more intensity and less momentum specifying on the upper abs.

Reverse Mountain Climbers

Reverse mountain climbers are another exercise that is not often seen in general workouts. It may not be as effective as standard mountain climbers, but the variation and the new angles that it offers to your workout means that it can still do awesome things core your ab strength. You need to place your hands on the bench behind/under you, so you are facing upwards, and then raise your knees to your chest individually. This will recruit your lower abs intensively.

Leg Lifts

Although you need to be flat for this one, the fact that you can lower your legs further down that your torso means that you’ll get greater lower ab activation. You can even develop this further by turning the exercise into a reverse crunch if you have the strength to do so, but this will be a seriously hard-core workout. For the leg lift alone, simply keep your legs straight and raise them from below the bench until you’re at a right angle.


There is, of course, a huge vast array of other ab exercises that you can utilise a bench for other than these, and these are just a taste of what you can do. These alone will still be more than enough for a full ab workout though, so take the advice wisely and reap the rewards. There are so many different ways that you can vary your workouts, so keep things fresh with other exercises too!

Check out some other great ab toning exercises here!

Exercise.co.uk Weight Benches

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.