8-moves, no equipment, and this core workout to build ab muscle

Tone and tighten your ab and core muscles with this short equipment free routine

Woman completes ab workout outside
(Image credit: Getty)

Training your abdominal muscles doesn't have to feel like a chore in order for you to notice results. If you incorporate compound movements into your workouts such as squats, pull-ups, and deadlifts, you'll already be training your abs since these exercises require stabilization in your core. Alternatively, ab-focussed routines rarely have rest periods and, therefore, are often very time-efficient, like this eight-move ab circuit.

Not only are the best workouts for abs a great way to tighten your ab muscles but many of these moves double up as core strengthening exercises too. Core strength is important as it helps the hips, pelvis, and lower back work in harmony and increases stability, meaning you use less energy during other forms of exercise, such as running.

As we mentioned before, compound exercises like knowing how to deadlift properly will activate your abdominal muscles but not everyone will enjoy working with weights or have access to the right equipment. This is where Kayla Itsines' no equipment ab routine comes in.

The Australian personal trainer and founder of the Sweat app has packed this routine with variations on some top ab workout staples like crunches and planks. These exercises are especially useful for training your rectus abdominis, also referred to as your six-pack ab muscle, as well as your core muscles.

You will spend 20 seconds working on each exercise, taking no breaks until you reach the end of all eight exercises. After a 60-second rest, you will repeat the circuit three times. Itsines demonstrates each move so you can make sure you are maintaining good form throughout the whole session.


If you find ab circuits a bit boring or pointless compared to your preferred forms of workouts, this study published in the Plos One journal is a good reminder of the difference core training can make to our performance in other activities. The scientists behind this research found eight weeks of core training improved static balance, core endurance, and running economy amongst college-aged running athletes.

Variety plays a key role when it comes to staying motivated and consistent and this workout by Itsines includes a number of varied exercises to kick your ab training off with. Find all of the exercises you will need below along with how many seconds to perform each move for:

  • Bent Leg Jackknife - 20s
  • Side Plank & Oblique Crunch - 40s (20 per side)
  • Mountain Climber - 20s
  • X Plank - 20s
  • Bent-Leg Sit-up - 20s
  • Straight-Leg Jackknife - 20s
  • Ab bikes - 20s
  • Plank Dips - 20s

You won't feel like doing ab circuits everyday, we certainly don't, but it's healthy to switch up how you move your body. For example, this Pilates workout will tone your abs and is perfect for challenging your core in a low-impact style of exercise. After all, the fastest way to build muscle has a lot to do with always challenging yourself and staying consistent.

If you complete bodyweight core workouts regularly then your body will start getting used to working against your body weight and the next challenge for you may be to add some light resistance into your training. Some of the best resistance bands are really great for creating tension on your muscles and can be much safer than using weights if you're a beginner.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.