You only need a resistance band and these five moves to blast your upper body with this quick abs and arms workout. If your fitness goal this year is to sculpt more defined abs and arms, add this to your exercise routine.
Recently, our fitness editor tried The Rock’s arms and abs workout for an intense arms and abs masterclass, but while this workout isn’t stamped with a celebrity name, it’s no less easy on the abs and arms and takes less than half the time The Rock spends on honing his torso.
These exercises target your triceps, biceps, shoulders, chest, and core muscles, and you’ll only need a light to medium resistance band — we recommend one of the best resistance bands here — 15 minutes, and these five moves to hit each of them.
Developing a strong core does more than define your midsection. It could improve your mobility, flexibility, and ability to lift heavy loads while staying injury-free and allow you to move more efficiently during exercises like squats and bench presses. Pilates is one of the best ways to build core strength, and I strongly recommend this at-home Pilates ab workout here, a beginner-friendly core workout.
For this abs and arms workout, perform each exercise for 50 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and complete three rounds without rest between sets. Check out the moves below and make sure to keep your core engaged throughout. Brace your stomach as if someone was about to punch you there, and breathe into your stomach rather than your chest.
15-minute, 5-move abs and arms workout
This 15-minute, five-move workout sculpts abs and arms with just a resistance band.
1. Push-up to plank row
How: Wrap a resistance band around a stable pole, chair leg, or similar. Start in a push-up position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips in line with your shoulders, facing the band. Engage your core. Bend your elbows and lower into a push-up with your chest close to the mat and elbows tucked toward your ribs. Explosively push up to starting position, then grip the end of your resistance band and row towards your hip. Switch halfway through the time.
Tip: Bring your knees down to the mat if you feel this in your lower back. You can learn how to do a push-up properly here. Row close to your ribs.
2. Plank bird-dog
How: Hook one end of your resistance band under your right thumb and the opposite end around your left foot. Start in a high plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips in line with your shoulders. Engage your core. Keeping your hips parallel to your mat, extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind with control. Pause, then slowly return to the start position. Switch over halfway through.
Tip: Practice without the resistance band to decrease intensity or bring your knees down to the mat for extra support. Avoid pushing your bum upwards.
3. Banded reverse Planche push-up
How: Wrap your resistance band around your back in line with your shoulder blades and secure it underneath your hands. Start in a plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips in line with your shoulders. Rotate your hands so that your fingers are pointing toward your feet and lean slightly forwards over your hands. Engage your core. Perform a push-up ensuring your elbows point behind you and not to the sides.
Tip: Remove the resistance band or bring your knees down to the mat for extra support. You can learn more about the Planche exercise in our calisthenics workout here. Turn your hands slightly outwards to release pressure on your wrists.
4. Banded diamond push-up jacks
How: Wrap your resistance band around your back in line with your shoulder blades and secure it underneath your hands. Position your hands to create a diamond shape with index fingers and thumbs touching. Engage your core. Start in a plank position with your hips in line with your shoulders. Perform a push-up, then jump both feet outwards and back in.
Tip: Remove the resistance band or bring your knees down to the mat during the push-ups for extra support. You can also remove the jump and step one foot out at a time during the jacks. Learn how to do plank jacks here and keep elbows close to your body.
5. Bear crawl
How: Start on your hands and knees with your toes tucked under. Wrap your resistance band around your back in line with your shoulder blades and secure it underneath your hands. Shoulders should be stacked over your wrists and hips over your knees. Lift your knees an inch off the ground and engage your core. Step your left hand and right foot forward keeping your knee bent just above the floor and maintain a flat back. Then walk your right hand and left foot forward. Continue moving forward.
Tip: Try to avoid lifting your bum up. Remove the band if the exercise feels too intense. Add a push-up as you move to make the exercise harder.
15-minute, 5-move abs and arms workout — verdict
These exercises are designed to work your chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and core muscles hard, tackling the major muscle groups in your upper body. Push-up variations target the same muscle groups but stimulate the muscles in different ways. For example, push-ups target your triceps, pectoral muscles, and anterior deltoids (fronts of your shoulders), but the hand positioning of the diamond push-up works into your triceps more.
The plank row is a brilliant anti-rotation core exercise similar to the Pallof press — during the pallof press, you have to work to balance and stabilize your body to stay parallel to your mat without turning outwards, while the pulling motion of the row works your biceps and engages your back muscles. The plank bird-dog works similarly, as you’ll need to switch on your core muscles to keep your body stable as you extend your arm and leg together with control — the arm extension also works your shoulder and arm muscles.
To scale back, throw the resistance band aside and work on perfecting your form and working your muscles to their maximum range of movement first, squeezing throughout. The Planche push-up is a challenging move adopted by bendy gymnasts and requires strength from the fronts of your shoulders, wrists, and forearms, so if you struggle with mobility, be sure to use your knees!