The 3 Most Effective Abs Exercises You Can Do at Home Using Just a Wall

Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund
By now you've likely done your fair share of abs exercises like bicycles, burpees, planks, and mountain climbers. But what about wall abs? For those unfamiliar with the concept, wall abs exercises are a simple, space-efficient way to get a killer core workout from the comfort of your own home.

Wall abs exercises involve using a wall to support and stabilize the body while performing various core-strengthening exercises. From beginner to advanced, wall abs exercises provide a great way to target the core and increase overall strength and stability while breaking up the monotony of doing abs exercises on the floor all the time.

“The abs muscles respond well to muscular endurance exercises that require full-body tension and isometric contractions,” says Becky Codi, a certified personal trainer, strength coach, and kettlebell specialist. "A wall is an immovable object, so by placing your hands or feet on a wall and pushing, you are performing an isometric exercise where there is no shortening or lengthening of the muscle fibers.” This means your abs are constantly working under tension without a break while you're performing an exercise, and that's what helps them build muscular endurance, meaning they'll be able to work for you longer when you need them. For example, when you're carrying heavy groceries, you're gonna want a strong core that can sustain your for the entire trip back from Trader Joe's.

3 wall abs exercises to start doing now

Codi says that while there is not a definitive list of the best wall abs exercises, you want to include ones that require you to hold different body positions.  “You want to include a supine movement, lying on your back, a prone movement—facedown, like a plank—and a standing movement,” says Codi, who recommends you perform all of these exercises for 20 seconds to a minute, depending on your fitness level.

1. Wall Deadbug

Deadbugs primarily work your deep core stabilizers and abdominal wall, according to Codi. They're also one of the best lower ab exercises. She says that, while performing this variation of the exercise, it's important to keep tension by pressing your palms into the wall because “this will force your rib cage down and keep your spine flush with the floor.”

How to: Start lying on your back with you head facing a wall and scoot your body forward until you can press your palms firmly into the wall (fingers pointing toward the floor) with straight arms. While keeping constant tension between your palms and the wall—really press into it—lift your bent legs into the air so that your knees are above your hips and shins are parallel to the floor. Without straightening your legs, lower your right heel down to tap the floor, then draw that knee back over your hip and switch sides. Continue alternating heel taps for 10–15 reps per side.

2. Plank Against a Wall

Planks work the entire core: the transverse, rectus, and obliques, and Codi says that the benefit of doing wall planks is that using the wall helps you hold proper form and prevents your hips from sagging.

How to: Come into a forearm plank position with your heels against the wall and your body extending out away from it, elbows stacked under your shoulders.
Push your feet into the wall, and maintain a long, tight position through your spine, hugging your abs up to the ceiling. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds or about five to 10 breaths. If you want to make it more difficult, come to a high plank position on your hands and place your feet flat against the wall so that your heels are in line with your hips and shoulders (about 12 inches off the floor), Codi suggests. "Warning, this is tough!” she says.

3. Hollow Body on a Wall

With this ab exercise using a wall, you want to feel as though you are dragging your hands down the wall, but you’re not actually moving them at all.

How to: Stand facing a wall with your feet six inches away from the base and your arms extended straight overhead, biceps by ears, and palms pressing into the wall. Tuck your tailbone and hug your ribs down toward your hips, then press your hands hard into the wall and feel like you could slide them down at the same time—without actually moving them. Try to hold this position for 20 seconds to a minute. Keep your abs tight the whole time.

Who should try wall abs exercises

Codi says that anyone can benefit from doing ab exercises on a wall, and that these particular wall ab exercises are beginner-friendly.

“If you are just getting started and don’t quite understand the concept of what tension feels like, you should definitely try these exercises,” says Codi, who adds that while wall abs exercises are not necessarily better than floor abs exercises, the wall is a helpful prop to increase core tension, which is a big part of making abs exercises effective that most people miss. "Once your body knows what tension feels like," she says, "you can replicate it in multiple situations.”

Plus, if you have mobility issues or struggle to get up and down off of the ground, some of these ab exercises on the wall may be easier to incorporate into your fitness routine.

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