Forget weights — this bodyweight workout strengthens your abs in just 7 moves

a woman doing a side crunch with her abs on show
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Building muscle in your abs isn't something that happens overnight. It takes consistency in both your fitness and dietary habits and results will vary from person to person.

That being said, keeping up with a regular practice of the best ab exercises is a starting point and something that will help to form definition in and around this area of muscle.

Thankfully, a good ab workout doesn't necessarily need weights to make it worth your time. Of course, if you own one of the best kettlebells then you might like to incorporate weight into your core training to increase the challenge.

But for this workout, you just need Kayla Itsines' seven-move bodyweight routine to start strengthening your abdominal muscles.

Watch Kayla Itsines' 7-move abs workout

Itsines calls this her 'Intense abs' workout and when a professional fitness trainer says this, it's not something we take lightly. So be prepared for a proper ab burn and to get sweaty.

The reps vary per exercise, but the main thing to note before starting is there are seven exercises in total and you should aim to complete 3-5 rounds of the workout. You can follow Itsines' demonstrations to practice your technique before you start too. 

The combination of exercises in this workout ensures that all major muscle groups within the core are engaged. This includes the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and even the hip flexors to some extent.

Each exercise within the routine offers a variety of benefits, ranging from improving core stability and coordination to enhancing muscle strength and endurance in your abs. And while some people use core and abs interchangeably, there are differences. 

Your abs form part of your core — a collection of mid-body muscles responsible for connecting your upper and lower body. A stronger core helps improve your posture, reduce the risk of injury while working out, and makes every day tasks like walking and lifting easier. 

Plus, the workout incorporates both static and dynamic movements, which offers a well-rounded approach to building strong and defined abdominal muscles. Going several rounds with this routine will challenge your muscles and the high-intensity format will raise your heart rate too. 

This is important if you're hoping to develop visible abs. The only way to make your defined stomach muscles show is to reduce the amount of fat around your stomach. And since you can't spot-target fat, you'll need to do heart rate-raising workouts, like this one, to burn energy and increase your metabolism

While ab workouts are valuable for strengthening the core, they are just one part of the equation when it comes to achieving visible abs. Combining targeted exercises with a healthy diet, cardio exercise, and proper rest and recovery will help you reach the best results.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.