We all want flat, toned abs, but if time’s short then calorie burning cardio often takes priority. Giving priority to cardio isn’t a bad thing, because it’s the type of exercise that is most likely to have a positive impact on health. However, there are many benefits to training the core muscles. If you want to do a quick ab workout at home, try one of these 3. You can download a chart with all 3 workouts on at the end of the post.
Ab workouts – the benefits
- Obviously, better ab tone looks good
- Strong abs help to prevent back pain and injury
- Strength and balance in the abdominal muscles is key to good posture
- Strong abs help you do most forms of exercise with better technique, improving results and decreasing the risk of injury
- As you get used to focusing on the ab muscles, you start to naturally engage them more during exercise and every day activities, improving them even further
There are 3 workouts in this post. Each of them should take 5 minutes or less. It’s best to do these exercises on a soft surface – if you don’t have an exercise mat, a folded blanket or quilt will be fine. The instructions are below, with a chart for each workout showing reps/how long to hold for. See the end of the post for the printable core exercises chart. Before you do these workouts, please read these general safety guidelines.
Workout #1: Basic and reverse curl
Crunches and their variations work the top layer of abdominal muscles – the 6 pack. Their job is to flex the trunk towards the legs – like when we bend over. They aren’t involved in stabilising the pelvis as much as the deeper muscles. Because they are more visible, they’re often the ones people want to work. These are the two standard exercises for the 6 pack muscles.
- Lay with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart.
- Put your hands behind your head to prevent neck strain.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your spine smoothly away from the floor.
- Stop when the shoulder blades have left the floor and start to reverse the movement.
- This time, start by extending your legs so that they are vertical.
- Engage your lower abs as you curl your lower spine off the mat. Again, it should be a smooth curling movement.
- When your lower back has left the floor, start to reverse the movement – curl the spine back down under control.
Sets & reps
Workout # 2: Arm and leg raises, elbow plank hold
Being able to stabilise the pelvis is key to successful ab training. The core abdominal muscles should work together to keep the pelvis in its “neutral” position – that is, not tilting forwards or backwards. When the core muscles are out of condition, the pelvis is often a permanent forward tilt. These two exercises focus on the core stabilising muscles.
Arm and leg raise
- The starting position for this is all-4 kneeling.
- Keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in, lift your opposite arm and leg until they are parallel with the floor.
- Keep your back flat and your body steady. Hold for the given number of seconds.
- Lower and repeat on the other side.
- Kneel on the floor.
- Lean forwards and put your forearms on the floor, making sure your shoulders are directly above your elbows.
- Straighten one leg out behind you, with the toes on the floor.
- Engage your core strongly and extend the other leg behind.
- Now hold this position for the given number of seconds.
Sets & reps
Workout #3 Elbow to knee crunches and hip rolls
The oblique muscles are involved in twisting and side bending movements, as well as playing a part in pelvic stability and pulling the abdominal area in flat. Both of these exercise mainly work the obliques.
Elbow to knee
- Lie on the floor with your legs together, bent to 90° at the hips and knees.
- Take your hands behind your head, with your elbows relaxed out to the sides.
- Rotate your left elbow towards your right knee. It doesn’t matter if you can’t lift your shoulder high enough for your elbow to touch your knee, just get it as close as you can. Your left shoulder blade should lift up, but the right stays on the floor.
- Now lower the left shoulder blade back to the floor and lift your right elbow towards your left knee.
- Start by lying on the floor, with your legs bent at the hips and knees as shown. Your arms should be out to the side, level with your shoulders
- Engage your abdominal muscles and then rotate your legs to the right. It’s important to keep the abs engaged and control the movement. Only take your legs as far as you can keep the movement controlled.
- When you have lowered your legs as far as you can, begin to reverse the movement. When you get back to the starting position, start again in the other direction.
Sets & reps
Get the “quick ab workout at home” chart
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