Looking to fire up your core with a quick ab workout? We’ve got you covered with this quick ‘abs on fire circuit’ that sculpts all of the different areas of the core in just three exercises. All you’ll need is your exercise mat, and one of the best adjustable dumbbells if you have one — if not, this workout can be completed with just your body weight.
Of course, strong abdominal muscles are far more than just an aesthetic goal — they can help you lift heavier weights, run faster, and sit with better posture. Strong abs can also help stabilize your spine, reduce lower back pain, prevent injury, and improve your balance. If, however, visible abdominals are your goal, they often come down to a low body fat percentage, diet, and genetics.
As a reminder, if you’re new to exercise, or you’re returning to exercise following an injury or pregnancy, it’s a good idea to check with a personal trainer before practicing these moves. Abdominal workouts, when done with incorrect form, can put you at risk of injuring your lower back, so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re moving correctly before adding weights or increasing your reps.
Ready to blast your core? Read on to find out how.
What is the ‘abs on fire’ circuit?
The aptly named ‘abs on fire’ circuit requires you to complete three rounds of three different exercises, outlined below. The circuit was devised by fitness trainers Aubri and Liv, who have over 120k followers on their fitness Instagram account. The workout can be done at home, or in the gym, and requires minimal equipment.
The three exercises include a dumbbell tuck to hollow hold, single leg extensions, and leg raises. For the first set, complete 30 reps, the second set 20, and the final set, 10 reps. Rest for 45 seconds between sets.
Tuck to hollow hold: Lie on your back with arms and legs extended, arms outstretched behind your head, holding the dumbbell in both hands. Lift your arms and legs off the floor, toes pointed. Engage your core. Bend your knees and simultaneously reach forwards, touching the dumbbell just above your feet and forehead towards your knees. Reverse back.
Single leg extensions: For this exercise, lie on your back with your legs in table top position, one arm extended above you holding the dumbbell and the opposite arm extended out to the side for support. Extend the opposite leg to the arm holding the dumbbell out and away from you, while keeping the other leg in a table top position. When you’ve completed all your reps on one side, swap the dumbbell into the other hand and do leg extensions on the opposite leg.
Leg raises: For this exercise, start with your legs extended up to the ceiling and hold a dumbbell in one hand, also extended. Keeping your core engaged, the dumbbell still, and your head and tech crunched up off the mat, extend your legs down to the floor, then raise them back up to your starting position. If this is too much, lower your legs as low as you can without your lower back peeling off the mat. Swap the hand holding the dumbbell halfway through.
For all of the exercises, it’s important to keep your core engaged. To do this, think about sucking your belly button into your spine, or as Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi told Tom’s Guide, “you want to lengthen your spine to make your back straight, breathe in deeply into your rib cage, and draw in your belly button. The best way to engage this final step is to think about what your reaction would be if someone was going to hit you in the stomach."
During this workout, Aubri keeps her head and neck raised off the mat to engage the upper abdominal muscles. If this puts too much pressure on your neck, think about looking down at your toes, not up to the ceiling. If you feel your neck straining, lower it back down to the mat — you’ll still be working your abdominal muscles.
It’s not clear what the weight of the dumbbell is Aubri uses in this workout, but remember when selecting the best adjustable dumbbell for your exercises, it has to be right for you and your body. The weight should make the exercise feel challenging by the final few reps, but not impossible — if you find you are compromising your form, you should drop down to a lighter weight.
To up the intensity of this workout, you could always increase the number of reps and do 40 reps, 30 reps, and 20 reps, to keep with the pyramid structure. Pyramid sets are often used in strength training to help grow muscle. You’ll often start with a greater number of reps at a lighter weight, and increase the weight as the number of reps decreases. The rest between each set is short to keep the muscles under tension for longer, causing more micro-tears, which in turn rebuild and strengthen the muscle.
Looking for more ab workout inspiration? This dumbbell ab workout targets your core in just 15-minutes, the best 10-minute ab workouts, plus, read what happened when our fitness writer did I did ab wheel rollouts every day for a week.