Strengthen your core in under 15 minutes with this seven-move ab workout

You don't need any equipment to get a sweat on at home this holiday season

A woman doing an ab workout at home to strengthen her core
(Image credit: Getty)

Fitting in a workout over the festive period may feel like a military operation, but this time-savvy ab workout will torch your core in less than 15 minutes. 

It's been designed by ace trainer and Sweat app co-founder Kayla Itsines to be as accessible as possible, minimizing the the barriers between you and a great exercise session this holiday season. It's short, efficient and effective, with no need for any equipment (other than one of the best yoga mats, if you want to give your spine a little extra cushioning). 

In the Instagram video below, Itsines shares seven core exercises that are commonplace in many of her best abs workouts. But, as she doesn't include a rep scheme, we've constructed a quick workout you can do that uses each and every one of them. 

Perform the first movement (bent-leg toe taps) for 20 seconds, completing as many quality repetitions as possible in that time (don't sacrifice form for speed). When the timer runs out, rest for 10 seconds then move on to the next exercise. Continue this pattern until you've completed all seven exercises, rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit three times to finish the workout. 

Watch Itsines' video below to find out which other exercises await you, and copy her technique for each movement to make sure your form is spotless. 

Watch Kayla Itsines' home ab workout

This core session is both an example of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and a Tabata workout.

It uses intense bursts of exercise and short rest times to keep your heart rate high, burning calories quickly and boosting your metabolism. This ensures you maintain a high level of intensity throughout the session, making it a good fit if you're on the lookout for a HIIT workout for fat loss.   

However, the use of a "20 seconds on, 10 seconds off" structure means you can also qualify it as a Tabata workout. This is a type of HIIT workout dubbed "one of the most energetically effective high-intensity intermittent training methods" by a 2019 study published in The Journal of Physiological Sciences

The research found people who followed a Tabata training plan for 6-12 weeks experienced significant boosts to their fitness, including an increased VO2 max and improvements to both their aerobic and anaerobic energy-releasing systems. 

If you want to fit this workout into your fitness routine, you can use it as a short standalone session that can be squeezed in between your endless list of Christmas commitments. Or, if you have some strength training planned over the holidays (like this chest and back workout or some of the best leg workouts) you can add it on to the end of your session to fully fatigue your core. 

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.