Let’s be honest. If you workout, you don’t just do it to “be healthy.” You also do it for some aesthetic reasons — including getting a tightened core and maybe even a few ab ripples. And guess what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s so much clutter out there that it can be hard to figure out what to do when it comes to your midsection. With that in mind, we’ve compiled what top experts in the fitness industry have to say are the best exercises to tone your core and get you ready for bathing suit season.

1. Train Your Abs Directly

Christian Thibaudeau is a world-renowned fitness and strength coach. In a recent article, he said athletes must train their abs directly. Not only will this help you look better in a swimsuit, he says it will make you stronger for the big lifts (squats, deadlift and press). A great way to put this into action would be to add 5 to 10 minutes of core work to your workouts 3 days a week. A nice life hack is to actually do your ab work while you’re watching TV at night (or even in the morning right when you wake up).


2. Stability-Ball Tri-Set

Nick Tumminello is the owner of Performance University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He uses the Stability-Ball Tri-Set to help strengthen the core of the many professional athletes and figure models he trains. Watch the below video and see how you can implement these on your own.


3. Use Yoga to Strengthen Your Abs

Our next fitness expert is Willow Ryan who is a dedicated yoga practitioner, having received the highest honor possible in the industry. She says it’s all too common for people to have a lack of strength when it comes to their abdominal muscles. This can put unwanted tension on other parts of your body, which can eventually lead to injury. In the following video, Willow will show you a Yoga move you can use to help strengthen your midsection.


4. Six Best Bodyweight Ab Movements

Al Kavadlo, CSCS, is a leader in bodyweight strength and calisthenics. The following movements are his favorite bodyweight core moves you can do with nothing more than a pull up bar at your disposal. Plank Hanging Knee Raise Hanging Leg Raise L-Sit Front Lever Dragon Flag In the below video he demonstrates each movement:


5. Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle

Last up, is Kyle Sottung, Director of Product Development at Iron Tribe Fitness. Kyle notes that we all have abs, but for most people they are hidden under excess fat in the midsection. He says that ultimately excellent nutrition is not an exercise – it’s a lifestyle and habit – but it’s the most important part of having great abs (because lower body fat will be the only way you can actually see them). What you eat and how much are the most important factors in having a lean body composition. If you want to see the musculature in your midsection, your body fat needs to be between 10-15% for men. If you want to look REALLY ripped, aim for below 10%. Adjust those numbers for females by aiming 5-7% higher – so 15-22% to see the abs, and less than 15% to look even more defined. For women, getting below this number can sometimes lead to other health problems, such as the interruption of a normal menstrual cycle. Be sure to make your overall health a top priority in this situation. — So there you have it. Five of the top fitness experts in the industry and what they say about core training. Make sure to take these tips and apply them at the gym or your home to help tighten your waistline and gain some confidence when putting on that bathing suit. You’ll look and feel better and, of course, be healthier too.