If you’re looking for a quick ab workout you can do with minimal equipment, I’ve found it. This circuit, created by none other than country music queen Carrie Underwood’s personal trainer, Eve Overland, only requires one medicine ball, and five different exercises to torch your core.
As a reminder, what works for me, or for Carrie Underwood, might not be right for you and your body. If you’re new to abdominal workouts, you’re recovering from an injury, or you’re pregnant, this might not be the best workout for you. If in any doubt, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding new workouts to your routine. It’s also worth asking a personal trainer to check your form when trying a new exercise for the first time.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out what happened when I tried Carrie Underwood’s leg workout, and when this fitness writer worked out like Carrie Underwood every day for a week here.
What is the workout?
Ready to get started? As mentioned above, all you’ll need for this workout is your body weight and a medicine ball. If you don’t have a medicine ball to hand, you can always use one of the best adjustable dumbbells, or one of the best kettlebells instead.
The workout follows the pattern of 45 seconds of work, followed by a 15-second rest, and you’ll complete the circuit three times in total. Here are the exercises:
1. Hollow Body Straight Leg Up and Over Med Ball: 45 seconds, rest 15 seconds
To do this exercise, start by placing the medicine ball at the end of your exercise mat. Sit on your seat bones, and extend your legs out and away from your body to one side of the medicine ball. Keeping your hands down by your hips, lean your torso back until you feel your abs engage.
From here, engage your core to lift your torso slightly, and at the same time, lift both legs up and over the medicine ball, lowering them to the ground on the opposite side of the ball. As your legs reach the ground, crunch your torso back. Keep crunching and switching sides with your legs. Remember the movement should be coming from your core.
2. Medicine Ball Straddle V-Up: 30 seconds
To do this exercise, start by sitting on an exercise mat with your legs extended out away from your body, and a medicine ball in between them. Place your hands flat on the floor either side of your hips, with your fingertips facing towards your toes. Lean your torso back, so you feel your abs engage — this is your V-sit position.
From here, lift both legs up from the mat towards the ceiling, keeping your legs straight and bring your feet together at the top of the movement. As you lift your legs, raise your torso up into a seated position, moving from your abs. As you lower your legs back down to your exercise mat, lower your torso back to your starting position.
2b. Med Ball Straddle V-Up with Opposite Reach: 15 seconds
For the final 15 seconds, reach one hand, and then the other, to your feet, taking your hand to the opposite side. This is more challenging. Remember to move with control — the movement should be coming from your abs, not your hips.
Rest 15 seconds
3. Med Ball Sit Up and Chop: 30 seconds
For this exercise, start by lying on your back, with your knees bent and your feet pressed flat into the floor. Hold a medicine ball in both hands and extend your arms to the ceiling, so that the medicine ball is above your chest. Lower the medicine ball behind your head and engage your abdominal muscles, then crunch your torso up.
As you sit up, lower the medicine ball down towards one side of your body, then reverse the movement, moving slowly and with control, so that you are back in your starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Keep switching sides for the full 30 seconds.
3b. Med Ball Russian Twists: 15 seconds
For the final 15 seconds, sit up holding a medicine ball with both hands. Lower your torso back, so that you are in a V-sit position and can feel your abs working hard. Then complete a Russian twist, twisting your torso to lower the medicine ball to one side of your hips, then the other. Move quickly, but not so fast that you compromise your form. Make sure you keep your back straight. Here’s more on how to do a Russian twist, and the benefits.
Rest 15 seconds
What are the benefits?
If you’re bored of sit-ups, this is a great workout to really blast the muscles in your midsection. You’re working all of the muscles in your midsection with this workout, and it can be done with minimal equipment. That said, there are benefits to adding weights to your ab workouts — eventually, moving our body’s weight alone stops being challenging. In order to keep getting stronger, we need to add dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or another weight source to produce the same levels of exertion. This is what’s known in exercise science as the Overload Principle.
Aside from building visible ab muscles, there are also a number of benefits to working on your core strength. Strong abs can help protect your spine from injury, and help you sit and move with better posture. Your abdominal muscles (like the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques) are responsible for stabilizing your hips, spine, and the rest of your body during any type of movement, so whatever sport you play, working on your core strength can help.
If sculpting visible six-pack muscles is your goal, you’ll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage. Here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters.
I just tried this 9-minute medicine ball ab workout from Carrie Underwood’s trainer — here’s what happened
For a workout that takes less than 10-minutes, this one worked my core hard. The added weight of the medicine ball forced me to work harder when holding the V-sit position, and I could feel my deep core muscles shaking by the end of the workout. I also enjoyed the variety — the 15-second finishers at the end of the second and third workout really upped the ante. If you’re short on time, space, or equipment, this is a good one to add to your repertoire.