Sculpt your abs and strengthen your core with 6 moves in 6 minutes — here’s how

a photo of a woman's abs
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Finding a good ab routine can be a game changer for building muscle in your mid section. However, sometimes ab routines can get a little more complex than they need to be, getting you twisting into odd positions or reaching for weights in awkward positions that don’t feel comfortable in the slightest. Just sticking to basic bodyweight moves can be enough to start strengthening your core and carving out muscle definition in your abs.

This six move routine we are about to share with you can be completed in six minutes, making it perfect for those short on time or for those who want a quick ab finisher to add to the end of another workout.

The one thing you will need to get the most out of your ab workouts is some form of padding to put underneath you while you exercise on the floor. We personally recommend getting your hands on one of the best yoga mats, they can offer cushioning for your spine, tailbone, and other sensitive areas during a floor based ab workout. Once you have a comfortable setup, then you are ready to take on the six exercises.

What is the workout?

Just as a quick note, it's worth highlighting that one ab workout will not build you a six pack overnight. Other factors come in to play such as diet, consistency and other forms of exercise like weight training and cardio. Also, all body compositions are different meaning some people's ab muscles will naturally be more visible than others.

The following six exercises are a great starting point for training your abs and will help to build core strength and stability. To complete this core and ab blasting routine you will spend 50 seconds each on the six exercises, leaving 10 seconds rest in between each move. 

The workout comes from the fitness coaches over at The 4 Academy who only suggest completing the circuit once. Of course, if you are feeling pumped and have more than six minutes to spare, then try another one or two rounds of the routine.

1) Plank Reaches

Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping your core tight and hips stable, lift one hand off the ground and reach it straight forward. Return the hand to the starting position and alternate sides. Maintain a strong plank position throughout the exercise, avoiding any rotation or sagging in the hips.

2) Reverse Crunch Pulse

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs towards the ceiling, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Engage your lower abs, lifting your hips off the floor in a controlled motion. Pulse your legs slightly towards the ceiling, maintaining tension in the lower abs. Lower your hips back down without letting your feet touch the ground and repeat the pulses.

3) Mountain Climber with 2 Second Pause

Begin in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Bring one knee towards your chest, then switch and bring the other knee in a dynamic, alternating fashion. After bringing each knee towards the chest, pause for two seconds with your knee close to your chest before switching. Keep your core engaged and maintain a brisk yet controlled pace throughout the movement.

4) Balanced Knee Tucks

Start in a seated position on the floor with your knees bent and feet lifted off the ground. Lean back slightly, balancing on your bum and engaging your core. Bring your knees towards your chest while maintaining your balance. Extend your legs back out without letting your feet touch the ground. Repeat the movement while keeping a straight back and focusing on the contraction of the abdominal muscles.

5) Plank Jacks

Begin in a plank position with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet out wide and then back together in a controlled manner, similar to a jumping jack motion. Keep your core tight and your back flat, ensuring that your hips stay in line with your shoulders. Perform the exercise at a pace that challenges you without sacrificing form.

6) Hollow Flutter Kicks

Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms extended overhead. Lift your legs and upper body off the ground. Alternately kick your legs up and down in a fluttering motion, keeping them straight. Maintain the hollow position, engaging your core to stabilize your body throughout the flutter kicks. Control the movement and focus on keeping your lower back pressed into the floor.

Remember to prioritize proper form over speed and adjust the difficulty based on your fitness level. If you're new to these exercises, start with fewer reps and gradually increase as you build strength and endurance.

a photo of people performing flutter kicks in an ab workout

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

What are the benefits of doing an ab workout?

Ab workouts offer various benefits that extend beyond merely carving out visible muscles. Although if you are eager to build noticeable definition in your abs, then combining targeted ab exercises with a balanced diet and overall fitness regimen will contribute to a sculpted midsection but consistency is key. 

Beyond aesthetics, strengthening the abdominal muscles through consistent ab workouts is beneficial for overall health and functionality. A strong core enhances stability and posture, reducing the risk of back pain and improving body mechanics. 

Engaging in bodyweight ab exercises, such as planks, crunches, and leg raises, is an effective and accessible way to target the core muscles without the need for specialized equipment. These exercises engage not only the visible rectus abdominis but also the deeper, stabilizing muscles, contributing to a well-rounded approach to core strength.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.