Build a stronger core and define your abs in just 20-minutes with this workout

This no-equipment workout ab and core workout will have you building muscle as you tone and define your stomach

Man does a situp as he trains his abs and core
(Image credit: Getty)

People either love or loathe to train their abdominal and core muscles, but either way, it's an area of your body that doesn't require hours of training. Whether you prefer working out at the gym or exercising from home this no-equipment ab and core session only takes twenty minutes to complete and is great for boosting strength and definition in your core and abs.

This short routine includes some of the best abs workouts but is a little different from your standard ab routine as it's a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) style workout. It also uses exercises to engage your whole core and not just your abs, which form a smaller area of this larger muscle group.

Your core makes up the muscles surrounding the center of your body (the trunk) including your abdominals, diaphragm, pelvic floor, obliques, hip flexors, and trunk extensors. The more strength you build up in this area the better your balance and posture can be, and all you need to start is Heather Robertson's 20-minute core routine.

Robertson leads the workout, guiding you through 12 equipment-free ab and core enhancing moves. The HIIT element to this workout will have you working for 30 seconds and resting for 10 seconds. HIIT routines are fast-paced but a great way to pack in lots of varied exercises into a short amount of time like with this 20-minute one. 

You will repeat the circuit, so try not overwork yourself in the first round but aim to keep the intensity at a good level as this will help keep your heart rate up. Although this workout requires no equipment, it's a good idea to place one of the best yoga mats underneath you for support. 

Watch Heather Robertson's 20-Minute Ab and Core Routine

There's plenty of great reasons to regularly engage in core-based exercises. If you're worried about losing strength when you're older and what this may mean for the ease of everyday living, research has confirmed daily core strength exercise does benefit things like balance, independence, and quality of life for older adults.

Below is a list of the exercises included in Roberston's ab and core strengthening routine.

  • Toe Touch Twist (L) 
  • Toe Touch Twist (R) 
  • Unicorn Crunch Hip Lift + Twist 
  • Clap Crunch 
  • Bicycle Crunch 
  • Plank Kick + Crunch (L) 
  • Plank Kick + Crunch (R) 
  • Hold Plank Mountain Climbers 
  • Side Bridge (R) 
  • Side Bridge (L) 
  • Penguin Crunch Leg Drops 
  • Hold Prayer Crunch

Losing body fat plays a key part in developing abs in your stomach area. Scientific research has proven that ab exercises alone can't reduce stomach fat but they will boost abdominal muscular endurance.

So by combining bodyweight exercise with a HIIT style workout format like in Roberston's routine you will one, boost your metabolism meaning you burn energy during and after the workout. And two, strengthen and tone the abdominal area. Those who like this method of exercise should try this other HIIT workout for fat loss.

If you'd like an additional way to create a real burn in your abs, it's worthwhile getting yourself one of the best ab rollers. This portable piece of equipment allows you to perform a compound move as you roll out so that you work multiple muscle groups in addition to your abdominal muscles.

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. 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.