Forget sit-ups — this abs workout builds core strength without weights in just 10 minutes

Woman doing a plank at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sit-ups and crunches are staple exercises for a reason; they’re an effective way to build stronger abs. But they can also get boring fast, so it’s important to keep your mid-section routines varied, like with this short, equipment-free core workout.

All you need is a bit of space, and one of the best yoga mats can be handy if you want to make the floor-based moves more comfortable, but it’s not essential. There are some crunches, but you’ll only do these crunch variations for about a third of the routine, leaving plenty of time for other exercises.

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The short routine comes from fitness duo Tiff x Dan, and works your abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle, and strengthens your core, even when you’re tight on time. Plus, you can repeat the 15-move circuit up to three times for an extended core workout.

However, to get the most from your training, it’s important to get your technique right, as it’s easy to accidentally arch your lower back during abs exercises rather than engage your core. Fortunately, Tiff demonstrates all the exercises, so you can perfect your form before starting.

To pack 15 exercises into a 10-minute session, you’ll do each move for 30 seconds, take a 10-second rest, and then start on the next exercise. If you do repeat the circuit, it’s worth taking an extended break between sets (around 30-40 seconds) to recover before starting again.

Watch Tiff x Dan’s 10-minute abs workout

This style of exercise is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), where the aim is to train intensely for short periods with minimal rest. It’s similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but with a focus on muscle-building moves instead of cardio-focused exercise.

But both techniques help you fit in an efficient workout even when you’ve got a packed schedule. Plus, since you don’t need any equipment for this particular routine, you can do it whenever you have a spare moment, even while traveling or away from home.

HIRT workouts also help raise your heart rate, so you burn more energy than during a steady-paced equivalent routine. Plus, sustaining this high heart rate helps boost your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn throughout the day, which is important if you’re hoping to burn fat.

Sustaining this high heart rate helps boost your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn throughout the day, which is important if you’re hoping to burn fat.

Of course, you’re not likely to see tangible metabolism-boosting, fat-burning effects from a single 10-minute session, but if you add Tiff x Dan’s abs workout to your regular routine, or repeat the circuit several times, you’ll notice the effects within a few weeks.

But working your mid-section doesn’t just mean developing visible abs, as you’ll also strengthen your core — a collection of mid-body muscle that connects your upper and lower body, and is responsible for your balance, stability, and posture.

So, taking on an abs workout does build core strength, but if you’re looking for these fitness-boosting effects, you’ll also want to add dedicated core workouts to your routine. Although, if you’re a fan of efficient exercise, it’s also worth considering compound exercises.

These work several muscles simultaneously and often utilize your core for balance, especially if you’re training with weights like adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells. This way, you can build muscle, work your midsection, and raise your heart rate (if you arrange them as a HIRT workout) in a single session.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym.

Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones.

He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.