This no-equipment abs workout builds core strength in just 10 minutes — here’s how

Woman holding a plank position
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your core, a collection of muscles around your stomach, is responsible for your balance, stability, and posture. It plays a vital role in your body, but you don’t need a whole gym’s worth of equipment to develop strength in this area — you can get results in just 10 minutes with this short routine.

All you need is a bit of space where you can lie down (most of the exercises are based on the floor), so a yoga mat can help make things more comfortable, but it’s not essential. Although the session only lasts 10 minutes, if you have longer, you can repeat it for an extended core workout, too.

The routine, developed by fitness coach Oliver Sjostrom, is designed to work your abs and core without weights, so expect to do some popular mid-section exercises like crunches and several plank variations. These are staple moves, but it’s important to do them with proper form to get results.

Fortunately, Sjostrom performs each exercise, so you can follow along to practice your technique, or briefly pause the video to perfect your form before starting the 10-move circuit. Crucially, you want to avoid arching your lower back — you should engage your core to do each exercise.

It’s an efficient workout, covering 10 different exercises in just 10 minutes. This is because it’s arranged as a high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) routine, where the aim is to train for 45 seconds, take a 15-second break, then start on the next move.

Here are the 10 exercises that make up this core-building workout:

  • Leg raises
  • Sit ups
  • Reverse plank
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Plank hold
  • Hip lifts
  • Leg-elevated toe touches
  • Reverse crunches
  • Half jacks
  • Bear plank (knee to elbow)

Watch Oliver Sjostrom’s 10-minute abs workout

HIRT is a lot like its cardio-focused cousin, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but with a focus on muscle-strengthening exercises. However, both techniques keep the rest to a minimum, raising your heart rate to burn more energy than during a steady-paced equivalent workout.

Sustaining this high heart rate also has longer-term effects, like boosting your metabolism, the amount of energy you burn throughout the day. This is especially true if you repeat the circuit three times to turn the routine into a 30-minute core-strengthening workout.

Plus, this metabolism-boosting result is important if you’re looking to develop visible muscle around your stomach. Since you can’t spot-target fat loss, you need to take on fat-burning high-intensity routines like this to reduce your overall body fat.

You might also notice that people often use core and abs interchangeably, but there are some differences. Your abdominals, which include the rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle, form part of your core, a larger collection of mid-body muscle that connects your upper and lower body.

So, while they are different, strengthening your abs also builds muscle in your core, although to get the full effects of a stronger core, you’ll need to do routines that target all of your core muscles. And if you’re not a fan of floor-based exercise, you can do a standing core workout instead.

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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.