I tried this 15-minute bodyweight ab workout — and wow

A photo of a woman doing crunches
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Often, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to keeping fit is finding the time to fit your workouts in around your day-to-day life. Yet not all workouts require you to spend hours in the gym, and actually, some of the most effective classes will work you hard in a short amount of time. 

If you’re looking for a quick ab workout to fit in on your lunch break, or even between meetings, I’ve found it, and it’s a killer. Only 15 minutes long, you’ll work into all the different parts of the core, including the transverse abdominis, which sit under the internal and external obliques. 

The entire workout takes 15 minutes and involves three laps of four exercises. All you’ll need is your body weight and an exercise mat (if you don’t have an exercise mat, we’ve found the best yoga mats that double as exercise mats here). The workout was developed by trainer Kelsey Wells, who is a trainer on the Sweat app, which is one of the best workout apps to download right now. Bored of working out from home? Here are all the gyms offering free passes right now

The Kelsey Wells 15-minute ab workout 

For the workout, you’ll spend 30-45 seconds on each exercise (beginners, it’s probably worth opting for the lower number). If you need to, you can take a short break between each of the three sets. Like to prepare yourself before unrolling your mat? Here’s the exercises you’ll be doing: 

Ab bikes: Ab bikes are also referred to as bicycle crunches, and you can find more information on how to do a bicycle crunch and the variations to try here. To do a bicycle kick, lie on the floor with your back flat against the ground. Place your hands next to your head and raise your shoulders off the ground. Bend your knees and draw your legs up off the ground. Bring the right knee towards your chest as you straighten your left leg, as your right knee comes up, twist your body so your left elbow touches your right knee. Repeat on the other side and make sure your legs and shoulders remain off the ground for the entire exercise. 

Straight leg raises: Start lying on your back, making sure your lower back stays pressed into the floor. Keeping your legs straight and pressed together, lift them up towards the ceiling and lower them back down, never putting them fully back on the floor. 

Toe taps: This is a classic Pilates exercise that works the rectus abdominals and the traverse abdominals. Start with your legs in a tabletop position. Engaging your core and keeping your knee bent, lower your right and tap your toe on the floor. Your left leg should stay in a tabletop position. Reverse the move and repeat on the opposite side.

Dead bugs: If you hate planks, dead bugs are just as effective when it comes to blasting your core. As it’s a stabilization exercise, dead bugs also target the spinal erectors, which help stabilize the spine and support the lower back. Start by lying on your back, keeping your lower back pressed into the mat — think about sucking your belly button into your spine. Raise your arms straight above you, and your knees into tabletop position. Slowly lower your right arm to a couple of inches off the floor behind your head, as you do so, stretch your left leg away from your body and lower that to just above the floor. Pause, then return to your starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Looking for more workout inspiration? We’ve found the best ab workouts you can do for free here, as well as a glutes workout that builds your glutes without weights, and one of the best exercises for working your back muscles.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.