Forget planks — this 10-minute ab workout sculpts your core with just your body weight

a photo of a woman doing a sit-up
(Image credit: Getty Images/nortonrsx)

There are so many ab workouts on the internet, but finding one that can help sculpt your core in just 10 minutes is a find worthy of trying out. This workout is 10 minutes long, with 10 different exercises to sculpt your core between meetings. Read on to find out more. 

Effective core strength is crucial because it enhances our posture, flexibility, balance, and stability, and lifts our workout efficiency and performance by enabling us to maintain proper form. Moreover, a robust core acts as a protective shield, reducing the likelihood of injuries and minimizing the risk of back pain by serving as a dependable support system for the spine as it collaborates with the rest of the body, whilst keeping our posture strong and back healthy.

This workout is regarded by its creator, Fit By Mik, as a ‘friendly workout’ because of the absence of planks. Poor form when doing planks not only prevents you from actually engaging your abs in the move but can result in injury or stress on the lower back. If you’re new to planks, remember to think about sucking your belly button into your spine throughout, but if you suffer from lower back pain, they might be one to skip altogether.

For this workout, all you need is 10 minutes, a little bit of motivation, and an exercise mat.

What is the workout?

In this workout, you’ll work for 50 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds, completing 10 exercises in total to target all of the muscles in your mid-section, In the 10-second rest, try to take a couple of deep breaths and set yourself up well for the next exercise.

To understand more about the workout and the correct way to do each step, we spoke with fitness trainer Klaudia Lucia

Crunch to half sit-up: 50 seconds

For this exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet pressed flat on the ground. First, complete a crunch by placing your hands by your temples, lifting and lengthening your upper body to raise your head and shoulders off the ground, and keeping your chin off the chest. After the crunch, return to your starting position and perform a half sit-up by reaching a little further and extending your arms to tap the front of your knees. Try and keep your feet planted on the ground in both movements to ensure your core does the hard work, explains Klaudia. This movement will target your upper abs for a good burn.

Leg raises: 50 seconds

Start by lying down, with your legs raised to the ceiling and your arms by your side or under your hip bones if you struggle to keep your lower back pressed into the floor. Slowly lower your legs down towards the ground, as far as you comfortably can without your lower back lifting off the ground. Flex your feet on the way down, and point your toes as you raise your legs back up. Klaudia explains that to modify this movement, you can do the same leg raise with bent legs and tap your toes on the ground with each rep. You should start to feel this exercise work your lower core muscles.

Single-sided bicycles: 50 seconds on each side

Begin in a table top position, lying down with your legs bent at 90 degrees and your knees stacked over your hips. With your hands by your temples, twist your upper body towards your right knee and bring it towards the chest, connecting your left elbow to your right knee as you extend your left leg straight toward the ground. Return to the starting position and perform on the same side for the whole set. You can modify this exercise by keeping your left foot on the ground with your knee bent and only moving the right leg. Bicycles will help to target your obliques — the muscles that run down the sides of your mid-section, explains Klaudia. 

Then, swap to the other side.

Plant those feet: 50 seconds

For this exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Lift your right knee towards your chest, and tap the right ankle using your left hand. Gently place the foot down and return to your starting position, before alternating sides with each rep. By rotating as well as crunching, you’ll work your upper abs and obliques at the same time.

Alternating leg lift with rotation: 50 seconds

Start by lying flat on the ground with your arms above your chest and reaching to the ceiling. Roll yourself off the ground one vertebrae at a time until your upper body is completely lifted. Once you’re sitting up, lift your right leg straight up in the air and gently rotate towards your right side. Finish by tapping the right foot with your left hand, and slowly roll back down to your starting position. Alternate sides as you complete each rep and aim for control as you roll up and down. 

Twist and reach: 50 seconds

From a seated position with your knees bent out in front of you and feet planted, raise your arms directly overhead. Gently lean back to about a 45-degree angle, rotating your arms over to one side as you do so. Return to your upright position with arms overhead before repeating on the other side. Try to move your head and shoulders with your arms to ensure your whole torso is rotating and you fire up your obliques, suggests Klaudia.

4 crunches, 4 arm pulses: 50 seconds

For this movement, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Perform 4 crunches, then extend your arms out by your sides, and pulse them 4 times while your head and shoulders are lifted off the ground. Try to keep your lower back on the floor as you complete this exercise. Klaudia explains that you’ll work both the front and back of your midsection here.

Reverse crunch: 50 seconds

Starting in the tabletop position, lay down with your knees bent at 90 degrees, lift your hips off the ground, and bring your knees to your chest. Slowly lower your legs down to place your spine back on the floor, finishing by tapping your feet gently on the ground. Keeping your arms down by your sides will help you control this movement, and you can modify reverse crunches by taking out the hip lift. Reverse crunches are excellent for targeting your lower abs, and core muscles in your lower back. 

High boat to low boat / V sit toe tap and extensions: 50 seconds

Begin in a V-sit position, with your knees at 90 degrees out in front of you, your upper body off the ground, and your arms extended out towards your toes. This is your ‘high boat’ — from here, lower your feet to gently tap the ground before lifting them in line with your knees again. Then, lower your whole body slowly towards the ground, keeping your legs, arms, and torso all straight, to hit your ‘low boat’ position, and finish by returning to your starting position. Alternate between this toe tap and full body extension for the whole set. It's a challenging movement for sure, but this one’s super efficient for firing up every muscle in your core to finish off a strong workout.

What are the benefits of this workout?

When we talk about core strength, we don’t mean visible abs, instead, we refer to your body’s ability to stabilize and control itself. This workout will also target multiple muscles in your core, helping you build strength in your mid-section. 

If you find ab workouts boring, this one is short and to the point — you’ll work your entire core, and you won’t repeat any exercises. Modifications are also provided for some exercises in case you need a regression. Remember that if building visible abs is your goal, you’ll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage — here’s how to calculate yours, and why it matters.  

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Mollie Davies
Mollie is a UK based, Welsh, lifestyle journalist. She writes frequently on all things involving women, health and fitness, and beauty - amongst other topics. Her work can be found in Cosmopolitan, Insider, the Independent, Women’s Health and more. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the pottery wheel or walking her basset hound.