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10 Ab Workouts Under 10 Minutes

Get six pack abs—fast!—with these routines that will fire up every single core muscle.
10 Ab Workouts Under 10 Minutes

Abs. What dude doesn't want them? While what you eat (and don’t eat) is huge when your goal is to get ripped, working the superficial six-pack muscles along with their deeper stabilizer cousins is an important component, too. But you don't have to spend all day or even your whole gym session doing it. Whether you’re short on time and looking to get a quick blitz or wanting to tack on some extra core work to your longer weight training session, these routines from personal trainer Eric Emig of St. Louis’s Evolution Fitness can be cranked out in 10 minutes or less.

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It’s just you and your body, lying on your back, in this three-exercise circuit, which Emig suggests is especially good for beginners. Work up to doing it three times through.

Basic Crunches

Lie on your back, knees bent at 90 degrees and feet planted. Cross your arms across chest with hands on shoulders, and crunch up, bringing elbows to thighs. Don’t let your chin touch your chest. Lower to start. Do 30 reps.

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Leg Raises

Still on your back, extend your legs long, and place your hands, palm-side down and stacked, under your tailbone. Hold your head and shoulders several inches off floor and press your lower back into the floor as you raise your legs straight up with heels together, as high as you can without your butt lifting up. Slowly lower your legs back down until your heels are 6 to 12 inches off the floor. Do 15 reps.

Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Lying down with your arms out 45 degrees, palms down, bend one leg and place the foot flat on the floor. Keeping the other leg extended and foot with toes flexed toward the ceiling. Thrust your hips high up toward the ceiling, sending your straight leg up so the thigh remains parallel to the thigh of the bend leg. Lower down.  Repeat for other side. Do 15 on each side.

“It’s great for those with low-back issues, as the Bosu provides support,” says Emig. Do this circuit straight through with no rest, then repeat from the top. If you have time, do the circuit twice through.

Bosu Crunches

Place your feet flat on floor while sitting on edge of Bosu. Fold arms across your chest and perform crunches, lifting the shoulders up toward the ceiling. Do 30.

Bosu Plank

Flip Bosu so it’s ball-side down. Grasp the edges and hold a plank on straight arms for one minute.

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Bosu Single-Leg Raises 

Flip the Bosu back ball-side up. Sitting on the edge as with the crunches, extend one leg up at a 45-degree angle. With arms across chest, do 15 crunches toward the straight leg. Switch legs and repeat.

Bosu Rocks 

With Bosu down, hold that push-up plank position again. Tilt the Bosu slowly left and right, completing 15 sets (30 tilts).

Bosu Side Bends

Line up your Bosu near a wall, ball-side up. Place your hip on the center of the Bosu and your feet against the wall two-feet apart, top leg in front of back. With your hands on the back of your head, crunch elbow toward hip for 15 reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Emig recommends this one because it works both the core and the upper body. Do the circuit up to three times through.

TRX Knee Ins

Set yourself up in pushup position, with your feet in handles about 12 inches off floor. Draw your knees in toward your chest, then back out to plank position. Do 15.

TRX Side Pulses 

Lower the TRX handles to six inches from the ground. Come into a side forearm plank position, with your top leg in front, foot in handle, and bottom leg behind other foot in the other handle. Pulse your hip toward the ceiling then drop slightly toward floor. Do 15 reps, switch sides and repeat.

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TRX Mountain Climbers 

From that pushup position with feet in handles a foot off the ground, alternately bring your knees to your chest for 15 sets.

TRX Hip Drives 

Sitting on the floor, put your heels in the handles six inches of the ground. With your hands on floor just outside the hips, push up to raise your butt off the floor while pulling heels in. Extend body back out until forming a straight line from head to heels. Do 15.

A medicine ball is a great way to resistance train because it provides a dynamic way to provide instability. Emig suggests doing three rounds of these four moves.

Ball Pass Crunches

Lie on your back holding the medicine ball in both hands.  With your knees up at 90 degrees, place medicine ball on ankles. Extend hands and feet straight out so they’re angled 45 degrees from the floor. Bring hands and feet back together, take the ball in your hands, and repeat the extension. Do 15 reps.

Seated V Twist

Sit on the floor holding the medicine ball.  Lift your knees toward chest so you are balancing on your butt—your back and thighs will form a V. With ball at chest and elbows out, slowly twist your torso as as far as you can to one side without moving the ball. Do 15 on each side.

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Medicine Ball Planks

Form a basic forearm position plank with your toes together and balanced on ball for one minute. Want to make it harder? “Try balancing just one foot on ball holding other foot in mid air next to it for 30 seconds on each foot,” says Emig.

Medicine Ball Throws

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet against the base of a brick or concrete wall. Lie back with the medicine ball held at your chest. Crunch up and throw the ball against the wall, catching it as you return to the start position.

With this routine, all the exercises are done standing up. Do up to three times through. 

Standing Cable Rotation

Place the cable machine handle at shoulder height. Stand with cable to your side and grab the handle in both hands, closest hand beneath further one. Step away so when arms are straight and facing pulleys the weight is still off the stack. With feet slightly wider than shoulder width and arms extended, rotate away from pulley, then slowly resist and rotate back toward pulley.  Do 15 reps each side.

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Cable Core Press 

Lower the cable so it’s right in front of your diaphragm. In the same body position as above, your side to the cable and the handle grasped in both hands, press arms straight out in front of you. Hold for up to five seconds, then bring the handle back in. Do 15 reps each side.

Reverse Cable Wood Chop

Lower the cable handle to the bottom. Stand with cable to your side in a wide sumo squat stance with your shoulders set back and your lower back flat. Hold the cable in both hands over top of your inside knee. Stand up and pull the cable across your body, twisting your torso and reaching toward the ceiling above your opposite shoulder. Untwist and lower slowly to the start position. Do 15 reps each side.

This endurance-focused plank routine is not for beginners, Emig says.

Pushup position plank, 30 seconds
Rest 15 seconds

Forearm position plank, 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

Side plank, 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

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Side plank (other side), 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Forearm position plank, with one arm extended, 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Forearm position plank, with other arm extended, 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Forearm position plank, with one leg up and extended, 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Forearm position plank, with other leg up and extended, 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Pushup position plank, 30 seconds
Rest 15 seconds

Forearm position plank, 1 minute

Adding a controlled twisting action really works the oblique muscles, Emig says. Aim for three sets.

Crunch and Punch

Grab a light pair of dumbbells. Sit with your feet flat on floor against the baseboard of a wall with knees bent. Lie back and hold a pair of dumbbells at your chest, elbows tight to your sides. While crunching up, punch with your right hand up and across your body to the left, then your left across to the right. Return the dumbbells to your chest and lower back to the floor. That's one rep. Do 15.

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Crossbody Knee-Ins

Start in a straight-arm plank. Bring one knee up toward the opposite shoulder and hold it there for two seconds, then return it to the floor; do the same movement with the other side. Do 15 on each side.

Plank to T-Plank

Again starting in the straight-arm plank, rotate your entire body to one arm, so you’re in a straight-arm side plank. Hold for a count of two and then go back to center and repeat to the other side. Do 15 on each side.

It’s kind of a misnomer: This ball is all about incorporating instability. Work up to three rounds of these three moves.

Ball Pike

Start with hands on floor in a straight-arm plank and place your shins on stability ball. With your toes pointed and legs straight, pull and roll the ball towards you as you send your hips bending up toward the ceiling. “Your upper body should look as if you are doing a handstand,” Emig says.  Lower yourself back to the starting plank position. Do 15 reps.

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Straight-Arm Ball Rotation

Lie with your upper back resting on the stability ball, feet flat on floor, knees bent at 90 degrees. Extend your arms straight out from your chest, hands clasped and aimed toward the ceiling. Keeping your arms extended, roll your upper body to one side. Don’t let your hips drop from that firm bridge position. Rotate back through the center and to the other side. Do 15 pairs of rotations.

Stability Ball Knee-Ins

As you did with the Ball Pike, Start with hands on floor in a straight-arm plank, with your shins on the stability ball. Keeping your toes pointed, bring your knees in toward your chest, then extend back to start. Do 15 reps.

“Everyone who sees you will be doing these the next day,” Emig says. Do the circuit three times through.

Cable Rope Crunches

With a rope attachment on a high cable and a moderate weight on the stack, grab the rope handles and kneel facing away about three feet from the machine. Keep hands positioned at the ears and crunch toward the floor, drawing elbows toward knees. Do not allow your butt to sit back towards feet; try to keep hips stationary. Slowly rise back up to start. Do 15 reps.

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Cable Knee-Ins

Start by placing an ankle strap attachment on a low cable, set with a light weight.  Attach the strap to one ankle. Set your body in a straight-arm plank far enough away so that you have resistance on your leg from the start. Holding a plank, draw the knee of the cabled leg in toward chest and hold for one second, then extend leg back out, not allowing foot to touch floor. Do 15 reps, then switch the cable to the other ankle for 15 more.

Bench Pikes

Load a barbell with a 45-pound plate on each side. Lie back on the bench with the bar just above the top of your head, legs straight, heels together, toes pointed. Grab the bar with an underhand grip, slightly narrower than shoulder-width.  Using the bar for some leverage, raise straight legs, hips, and lower back all the way so you’re balancing on your upper back, toes pointed toward the ceiling. Hold for a second, then allow legs to come slightly forward before lowering hips and returning to the start. Do 15 reps.

These three exercises force the core to resist movement of the extremities. “It’s the ultimate core-strength workout,” Emig says. Go up to three rounds, if you dare.

Hanging Leg Raises

Hang from elbow straps or hold yourself up on parallel bars. Cinching in through your abs, draw your knees up toward chest, then and lower them very slowly so you won’t swing. Make it harder by holding a light dumbbell (three pounds is plenty) between your heels. Do 20 reps.

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Smith Machine V-Ups

Bring the bar on a Smith machine to almost the bottom position, and add some weight to it (start with 30 pounds and adjust up or down as needed). Place a mat under the bar and lay down under it, legs out straight and your head about 12-18 inches behind the bar. Unlock the bar and press it up so your arms are straight. Simultaneously raise your legs and curl your torso up as you push the weight up above your head; your legs and upper body should form a V. Control the weight and legs back down to the starting position. Do 20 reps.

Ab Wheel Rollouts

Kneel on a mat. Grasp the ab wheel with both hands. Slowly, with control, roll your arms out to extend your torso, hips as far forward as you can control. Engage through the core to draw your arms back in. Do 15 reps.


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