This outdoor core workout will blast your abs in just 5 minutes — no equipment required

woman doing bicycle crunches
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You don’t need a lot of time or any equipment to get an effective abs workout done. Your core is an easy area to target with bodyweight exercises, and if you keep your abs under tension then they’ll start burning after just a couple of minutes of exercises.

This five-minute abs workout is a great example of a quick core blast that will leave you in no doubt that you’ve worked hard. The routine contains 10 moves and was created by fitness trainer Veronique Ellis, founder of Evolve, who demonstrates each exercise in the video below, along with giving advice on form and possible progressions.

You can do this workout as a quick five-minute core workout, or you can challenge yourself to do two or three rounds of the eight abs exercises for a longer session. Another great way to use the routine is as a finisher for a longer full-body workout, to make sure your abs get enough attention in your session.

You don’t need any equipment for the session, but one of the best yoga mats will make it more comfortable if you’re on a hard surface.

Watch Veronique Ellis' 5-minute core workout

The workout contains 10 abs exercises that you do back-to-back without any rest. That’s in an ideal world, but don’t worry about taking the odd break if you have to. Try not to rest for too long though, because one of the aims of the workout is to keep your abs under tension for as much of the time as possible.

Along with the video above, Ellis has provided form guides for each of the eight core exercises in the workout below. Read through those before you start to get a better idea of what you’re in for. The session finishes with a couple of quick stretches that will help release the tension in your abs.

Chest lift

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows flared out to the sides. Raise your legs into a tabletop position, with your knees bent. Engage your core and press your lower back into the mat. Exhale as you curl your chest off the floor, then inhale as you lower back down. Aim for 12-16 reps.

Chest lift with rotation

Move straight into this exercise from the chest lift, keeping your legs in tabletop position. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat, rotate your torso to one side, then return to center before repeating on the other side. Aim for 10-12 reps on each side.

Chest lift rotation pulse

Start on the side you did your last chest lift with rotation on, and hold the rotated position while performing small, controlled pulses, lifting slightly higher towards the rotated side without straining your neck or shoulders. Keep your core engaged and your breath steady as you pulse.

After completing the pulses on one side, return to the center and rotate to the other side to repeat the pulses. Aim for eight to 10 pulses on each side.

Toe taps

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet lifted in tabletop position. Engage your core to stabilize your lower back. Lower one foot towards the mat while keeping the other knee stable. Then bring the foot back up and lower the other foot. Aim for 10-12 reps on each side.

Toe taps with rotation

Start in the same position as with the toe taps, but now rotate your torso towards the opposite side as you lower one foot towards the mat. Aim for 10-12 reps each side.

Hollow back to high boat hold

Begin lying on your back with your arms extended overhead and your legs straight. Lift your head, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs off the mat into a hollow hold. Transition into a high boat pose by balancing on your sit bones with your legs lifted and arms reaching forward. Return to the hollow hold position. Aim for six to eight reps

Double leg stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent towards the chest and your arms by your sides. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. Extend both legs straight out and reach your arms overhead in line with your ears. Aim for eight to 10 reps.

Chest lift with legs raises

Lie on your back with your legs extended and raised as high as you can while keeping them straight. Reach your arms up towards your feet and pulse your chest up and down, lifting your shoulders off the mat. Aim for eight to 10 reps.

Scissors

Lie on your back with legs extended vertically towards the ceiling/sky. Press your lower back into the mat and engage your core. Lower one leg towards the mat while keeping the other lifted. Lift the leg back up and lower the other one. Aim for 10 reps on each side.

Double leg lower and lift

Lie flat on your back with your legs extended straight up towards the ceiling, with your toes pointed. Keep your arms by your sides, with your palms facing down for stability. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your lower back against the mat. 

Exhale as you slowly lower both legs towards the ground, maintaining control and keeping your lower back pressed into the mat. Only lower your legs as far as you can while keeping your lower back in contact with the mat and avoiding any arching. Inhale to lift your legs back up to the starting position, using your core strength to control the movement. Aim for six to eight reps

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Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

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