If like me, one of your main goals for 2022 is to finally get the six-pack of your dreams, you’ve come to the right place. In my quest to get abs from the gods, I’ve been searching for some of the best ab workouts out there to help me mix up my routine, and sculpt my core. (I also recently tried JLo's ab workout for a week).
From the 10-minute ab workout routines that you can squeeze into your lunch break, to longer abs sessions with dumbbells, I’ve found some of the best ab workouts out there, and given them a go, so I can give you some tips before you unroll your exercise mat. (If you’re in the market for a new exercise mat, we’ve found the best yoga mats to do your home workouts on here).
Of course, it’s important to note that abs aren’t just made on the mat. In fact, no matter how many sit-ups or crunches you do, if you’re not fueling your workouts correctly, you’re unlikely to get the results you crave. You also can’t target specific muscles when it comes to fat loss; instead, fat loss is achieved by limiting the number of calories you eat and increasing the number of calories you burn, and losing belly fat is often achieved with full-body exercises (take a look at these exercises that help burn belly fat, or this ab workout that is better than crunches or sit-ups).
That said, far from just being an aesthetic goal, losing belly fat is a good way to improve your overall health: research has linked larger waist sizes to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, as well as some cancers. A stronger core can also help you run faster and help prevent lower back pain. Looking to get stronger, here’s the best, free ab workouts out there:
The best six-pack ab workout
For those of you who haven't heard of Pamela Reif, she's a social media influencer from Germany, known for her fitness workouts. She’s also written two books on health and nutrition and has amassed millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram. Oh, and she has dream abs.
This workout is intense from the get-go. It's only six minutes long, so it's short enough to fit in between meetings if you're working from home, and the playlist is upbeat and motivating. Reif doesn't give you instructions, so you can also listen to your favorite podcast and just follow along.
Read what happened when I tried Pamela Reif's six-pack ab workout.
The best 10-minute ab workout
There's a reason why this 10-minute ab workout has 65 million views — it works! This one seriously blasted my core, and is a follow-up to Reif's popular six-pack ab workout mentioned above. I loved this workout. I loved the challenge, the pace, and the fact I found myself doing exercises I’ve not done in a long time (sitting oblique crunches, I’m looking at you).
As the title suggests, the entire workout takes just 10 minutes, making this one easy to slot in around your life, holidays or not. You’ll work solidly for the whole ten minutes, without any breaks, going through 20 exercises, which are 30 seconds each. There’s a counter in the top right corner which you can glance at when the going gets tough, but remember, you’ve probably spent longer in the line at Starbucks — you’ve got this!
Read what happened when I tried this Pamela Reif 10-minute ab workout.
The best ab workout with weights
If you're really looking to challenge yourself, or you're looking for an abs workout you can do in the gym, why not add weights to the mix? (No weights? No problem — we've found the best adjustable dumbbells for working out at home here).
This 15-minute weighted ab workout is a challenging one — I warn you now, my core was on fire for a good few hours after leaving the gym. You move through 15 different exercises during the workout, doing each for 50 seconds, with a 10-second rest between each.
Remember to control your ego with this one and select a weight that feels heavy, but not too heavy. The movements should be slow and controlled and don't be afraid to drop down to a lower weight if you're losing your form at any point.
Read what happened when I tried this ab workout with weights.
The best 20-minute ab workout
So you want more of a challenge? Don't worry, I've found it. This Caroline Girvan abs workout is a killer and will be the longest 20 minutes of your life. It doesn't require equipment, and you can do it from just about anywhere.
If you’re new to Caroline Girvan and her workouts, she is a personal trainer who has 1.39 million followers on her YouTube channel. As well as being a personal trainer, Girvan is an ultramarathon runner, a marathon runner, a triathlete and she’s completed an Ironman. In other words, she’s super-fit. (Looking to up your running goals in 2022, we've found the best running shoes on the market here).
Read what happened when I tried the Caroline Girvan 20-minute ab workout.
The best Chloe Ting ab workout
There's no wonder this Chloe Ting ab workout has been viewed more than 400 million times — it burns. The ab workout is part of Ting’s two-week shred challenge, which involves following four of her workouts a week, for two weeks, to see results. The shred challenge includes a 13-minute HIIT workout, the abs workout I tried, another abs and core workout, and a lower body workout. I added it to my workout schedule for two weeks and noticed a real difference in my abs (they also ached, a LOT).
The Chloe Ting abs workout is a series of 21 exercises, which come in supersets of two exercises back to back for 30 seconds, with a 10-second rest in between. The entire workout only lasts 10-minutes, which makes this one super easy to fit in after a run or training session, or even between meetings at work. It also requires you to have zero equipment, which is handy if you're back to working out at home.
Read what happened when I tried the Chloe Ting ab workout.
The best Daisy Keech ab workout
Daisy Keech ab workout gets an average of 90,000 searches per month and Keech's workouts have a serious following. The YouTuber has put together a set of exercises designed to clinch the waist and target the lower abs.
The 8-minute workout is easy to follow, and anyone who has ever done a Pilates workout will recognize most of the exercises. That said, it definitely targeted inner core muscles I'd been forgetting as a runner. As this is a quarantine workout, you don't need any extra equipment to get through it.
Read what happened when I tried the Daisy Keech quarantine abs workout.
The best 7-day ab workout challenge
If you're looking for an ab workout challenge to blast your core, I've found it. This 7-day ab challenge by Lily Sabri really did give me fast results. After doing this zero-equipment, five-minute ab workout for seven days in a row, I definitely noticed more definition in the 11 line of my abs. Of course, how visible your abs are is all to do with your body fat percentage and eating well, but I was amazed to see how just five minutes of targeted exercises a day had transformed my body.
The 5-minute workout is short and sweet. You can, genuinely, do it just about anywhere and it really doesn’t take too much time out of your day. Sabri is also a brilliant instructor, and offers a number of modifications for beginners, so this is a good one to try if you're new to core exercises.
Read what happened when I tried the Lily Sabri 7-day ab workout.
The best ab workout for women
While all of these ab workouts are great for women, this Daisy Keech ab workout really focuses on creating that hourglass figure many women crave. In this workout, Keech doesn’t perform exercises that target the obliques, which are located along the side of the abdominals, as she says this gives the body a squarer torso. That said, it’s important to caveat here that you shouldn’t avoid strengthening your oblique muscles — they’re important for anyone who practices sports that involve twisting from side to side, plus they can help you gain a stronger core.
This workout follows a simple format of nine different exercises, all performed for one minute. One thing to note beforehand — the music on this workout is hella annoying. It drops in and out, and I ended up stopping and re-starting the workout a couple of times, assuming it was my internet connection. It wasn’t. My recommendation would be to watch the video on mute and have your own music playing for motivation.
Read what happened when I tried the Daisy Keech hourglass workout.
The best ab challenge to use as your benchmark
Bretman Rock is a digital celebrity known for his beauty videos, but his video named "3 easy workouts to look cute" quickly racked more than one million views on YouTube. This "ab-solutely not" workout soon went viral, with thousands of people unrolling their exercise mat and giving it a go.
The workout is simple and comprises of these nine exercises: crunches, in and out crunches, an elbow plank, a plank with hip dips, mountain climbers, scissors, reverse crunches, toe-touches, and a six-inch hold. I know what you're thinking, that doesn't look that bad, but I warn you now, it's intense.
The entire workout took me nine-minutes, but this is a great one to revisit, and see if you can get stronger as you get fitter.
Read what happened when I tried the Bretman Rock ab workout.
The best Sami Clarke ab workout
Celeb personal trainer Sami Clarke has a number of popular workout videos on YouTube, her 10-minute ab workout being one of the most popular. It's an easy-to-follow workout (you don't need to have the sound on as she doesn't talk throughout), and you do a series of core exercises for 30-seconds each.
There's no jumping, and you don't need any equipment, making it suitable for beginners, and if you're really feeling brave, you can repeat the circuit twice. It left me with a good level of burn, and that deep inner core shake that proves you've been working hard.
The entire workout only takes 10-minutes and is one I'll revisit in the future. Read what happened when I tried the Sami Clarke ab workout here.
The best standing ab workout
If you're moving your ab workouts outside as the weather gets nicer and don't fancy lying on the ground, a standing ab workout is a good way to go. This Chloe Ting ab workout works you harder than you probably would on the mat, and I noticed my heart rate was elevated pretty quickly during the workout.
Like a lot of the workouts on this list, it followed a HIIT format of 40 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Standing ab exercises are good for people who are short on space, as you won’t need to unroll a yoga mat, but they also work your core muscles harder, as your core is working to keep you upright and balanced.
Read what happened when I tried the Chloe Ting standing ab workout here.
The best ab workouts that aren't on YouTube
If YouTube isn't for you and you'd prefer to follow a workout in your own time, we've also got some other great ab workouts to choose from, plus, here's the one thing you should do during every ab workout.