Eight moves, eight minutes, and just your bodyweight to build abs

You don't need weights to develop core strength, just this short equipment-free routine

Man holding a plank at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking to develop your abs, you might have heard that you need to do hours of crunches and sit-ups to get results. Fortunately, that's not the case; with this eight-move ab workout, you can build a stronger core in just eight minutes.

Although you can invest in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to take on several core strengthening exercises, this routine requires your bodyweight alone. It's an ideal option if you're short on time, away from home, or want to add a quick core session to your regular workout.

Chris Heria (opens in new tab), the trainer behind this six-move plan, specializes in calisthenics—a style of strength training that primarily relies on bodyweight exercises. So while you can find a few of Heria's sessions with weights, many of his routines don't require any equipment at all. 

This session has just eight moves—including plank variations, leg raises, and crunches—and it only takes eight minutes to complete the bodyweight circuit. You can repeat the round several times if you want more extended abs and core workouts.

The aim is to do each exercise for 45 seconds and take a 15-second rest before continuing to the next move. This keeps the intensity up, allowing you to fit an effective ab-building routine into less than 10 minutes.

This training style is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which encourages you to train intensely in short bursts and only take brief rests between moves. If this sounds similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), that's because it is.

Watch Chris Heria's eight-minute abs workout

However, HIRT sessions focus on muscle-building moves like those in Heria's routine. In contrast, HIIT routines generally center around cardio exercises designed to raise your heart rate and increase your metabolism.

Although HIRT won't raise your heart rate in quite the same way, it's an effective means of fitting a fat-burning, muscle-building workout into even the busiest schedules. And this is also ideal for developing your core and improving the visibility of your abs.

To create visible abs, you'll need to train your rectus abdominis, otherwise known as the six-pack ab muscle. But growing the muscle is only part of the technique, as you also need to lower your body fat, particularly around your mid-section. 

You can't spot-target fat, so a high-intensity session like this—where you train your muscles, increase your heart rate, and boost your metabolism—are a time-efficient way to hit your fitness goals. You could also couple this with a 25-minute HIIT workout for fat loss.

Alternatively, you can invest in some weights like one of the best kettlebells and learn how to do kettlebell swings. This multi-muscle exercise works your whole body, develops your core, and boosts your metabolism for fat-burning, strength-building results.

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.