It’s easy to overcomplicate your workouts, with an array of equipment and workout styles to choose from. But when it comes to strengthening your core, keeping things simple can be very effective; there’s a reason equipment-free ab workouts are so popular.
Bodyweight exercises can help you improve balance and coordination, and a strong mid-section will benefit your strength training workouts, so we think it’s definitely worth carving out some time to train your core.
But, despite what some people might think, this doesn't have to dominate a full hour of your day. This simple 15-minute workout from online coach Anna Engelschall (opens in new tab) is a great way to get moving during your lunch break, or it works equally well as a finisher added onto the end of your regular gym session.
You don't need any equipment to give it a go either, although you might want to take a look at our guide to the best yoga mats (opens in new tab) if you plan to try it on a hard, unforgiving floors.
The workout is split into six rounds, each consisting of five exercises designed to target the abs and obliques (the long muscles that run down the side of your trunk, responsible for twisting movements and providing stability to the spine).
Watch Engelschall’s YouTube video below to see her demonstrations of each movement, and mirror her form to make sure you're performing each one correctly.
Watch GrowingAnnanas' abs workout
All of the exercises in Engelschall's workout are completed while lying on your back or holding a plank position, which is great news for anyone wanting to target their trunk muscles.
Planks (opens in new tab) and variations of them) are a one-way ticket to a comprehensive core workout, engaging not only the rectus abdominis (responsible for the six-pack shape) but also important stabilising muscles like the transverse abdominis, internal obliques and external obliques.
To strengthen your core effectively during this workout, you can also try employing a technique known as mind-muscle connection (opens in new tab). To do this, focus on squeezing your abdominal muscles as you move to ensure they’re fully engaged.
If you’ve completed an ab workout (opens in new tab) before, you’ll know you can expect to feel the burn a few sets into this session. This is probably a sign that you're performing the exercises correctly, but if it becomes painful or an exercise is too difficult you can modify the movements to take some strain off your core.
For example, complete the plank-based exercises with your knees on the floor, or use one leg rather than two during movements like full leg drops (often called lying leg raises).
If you plan to use this ab workout as a finisher and need a full-body session to pair it with, we recommend this five-move dumbbell full-body workout (opens in new tab), so you can get your entire daily workout done and dusted in 40 minutes.
Or, if you've worked your core and fancy cooling down with some full-body stretching, why not try these anti-aging yoga moves (opens in new tab)?
Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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