“I LOVE a good ab workout! Is that just me?? Probably.”
I’d always known that your abs were important to train. After all, Victoria’s Secret models don’t get their toned stomachs from the stairmaster alone. And who doesn’t want a nice flat tummy for the summer beach days?
But until I began my personal training studies, I had no idea how vital abdominal training is. Let’s go over the basics:
- The abdominal muscles connect to places in the torso and in the pelvis
- They are part of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC), aka the “core” of the body
- Thus the abdominals are crucial for stabilization when forces are exerted on or by the upper and lower body
- If the abdominal muscles are weak, the abdominal region and lower back are at risk of stress and injury
- And since the core connects to the upper and lower body, if it’s weak then it can cause stress in other places
- Like a chain reaction, the compensations can lead to injuries in other parts of the body
The main message: an ab workout isn’t just for looks (although that is a perk!) – it’s also key to functional wellbeing.
I try to train my abdominal muscles 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days. That way my abs have time to recover in between training sessions. While I do vary my routine some (and am probably due for a big routine change as my abs are quite used to these exercises now), this 10 minute ab workout is short enough to work in 3 times during my busy week. And it doesn’t require equipment!
So here’s what to do!
10 Minute Ab Workout
Complete one round of all exercises below. Rest 30-60 seconds, and repeat! By the end you will have completed 10 total minutes of ab exercises (not including your rest in the middle).
Notes to get the most out of this – tense your abdominal muscles the entire time! But don’t hold your breath. Smooth, even breathing the whole time. Don’t make yourself pass out.
Crunches (30 seconds)
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands by your ears (not behind your head! No cheating!) and crunch upwards, raising your shoulders off the ground. Return your torso to the ground and repeat. It doesn’t have to be super fast, just make sure you’re contracting your abs and using them to pull you up.
Crunches with feet raised (30 seconds)
Same exact thing as the crunches but with your feet off the ground and knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
Bicycles (60 seconds)
Lay on your back with your knees bent and hands by your ears. Extend one leg out straight, while bending the other to bring your knee towards your chest. At the same time, lift your torso off the ground, twisting to bring your opposite elbow to your knee. Switch legs and bring the other elbow to your knee. Keep alternating sides, making sure to never touch your extended leg to the ground.
Leg lifts (60 seconds)
Still lying on your back, extend both legs straight out. Raise legs up off ground to 90 degrees. Slowly lower legs back down, but don’t let them touch the ground. Repeat! Try to keep your lower back on the ground the whole time.
Russian twists (30 seconds)
Begin in a seated position. Lean back to a 45 degree angle and lift legs off the ground (if needed you can absolutely let your heels touch the ground). Twist from right to left, keeping the movement slow and controlled.
Mountain Climbers (30 seconds)
Move onto your hands and knees, then extend legs out behind you so you’re in a plank position. Bring your left knee to your left elbow, and then switch, bringing your right knee to your right elbow. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your hands. Some people do this move quickly, hopping back and forth, never letting both feet touch the ground. I usually do it slower and focus on contracting my abs.
A good variation is bringing your left knee to your right elbow and vice versa. This slight twisting motion adds an increased challenge.
Plank (60 seconds)
Lower yourself to onto your elbows with your legs extended out straight. There is no movement involved in this exercise. However, it can be a complex move to execute correctly. Keep the following notes in mind:
- Contract your abs, pulling your belly button up towards your spine
- Make sure your heels are back
- Keep your body in a straight line, without your hips sagging or raised
- Look down at the ground to keep your spine in neutral alignment (a straight line)
- Don’t clasp your hands. Keep your forearms parallel. Clasping your hands is a compensation that takes away some of the position’s challenge
There you have it! My go-to ab workout that takes just 10 minutes (or 5 if you only have time for one run through)! If you’re looking for more though, take a look at my post on weight training for beginners!
I LOVE a good ab workout! Is that just me?? Probably.
By the way, the shorts I’m wearing are from Lululemon! They’re called the Run Speed Short. After finding these I’ll never get shorts from ANYWHERE else. I’m so obsessed with them. They can be a little on the pricier side, but it’s worth it to me if I’ll actually wear them. Not baggy or too tight, comfortable waistband – I love ’em.
Here’s a link to them on amazon: Lululemon Run Speed Short
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