20 Minute Ab & Core Workout
You don’t need to go to the gym for a good ab and core routine that will help tone and flatten your core region. All you will need for this 20-minute ab and core routine is a soft floor or mat to lie on at home (or anywhere you may be).
It goes without saying that a healthy diet is going to play a large role in seeing results in your core region. Getting great abs is not just about the exercising them; it’ s about what you put in your mouth too. In many ways, abs are “made in the kitchen,” but strengthening them through this routine is sure to help keep your tummy flatter and more toned.
This routine involves four easy yet effective exercises that target the entire core. You will be focusing on developing the lower and upper abdominals, internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominis. If you want to go the extra mile, you can do the bonus exercise to target the spinal erectors and lower back.
HOW MANY DAYS DO I DO THIS ROUTINE?
Ideally, this routine should be performed 2-3 times per week, done on non-consecutive days. For example, you could do it Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The core muscles and abdominals are just like any other muscle group; they need rest and recovery before you train them again. Over-training your core is not a prudent way to tone your tummy region.
On the days off from this routine, be mindful of training other body parts and doing some form of cardiovascular exercise. A holistic training program will only help you develop your core.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DO THIS?
That is really up to you. You might want to get up a little earlier and do these exercises before you start your day. You might be like me and prefer to do them on your non weight training days away from the gym. You could also do them in the evening while you’ re watching television. That’ s what makes these exercises so great; you can do them anytime and anywhere. Having a plan will be your ticket to success, and will leave you little room for excuses.
WHAT ABOUT REP RANGE?
This routine starts by having you perform 3 sets of each exercise. Start out with a goal of 12-15 reps for each exercise. As you become more advanced, challenge yourself by increasing the reps. If you are really ambitious, you could add a fourth set or even weights to make the movements more difficult.
HOW DO I DO THE EXERCISE?
Here are some brief overviews of how to perform the exercises in this routine:
• Pulse up: Lie with your back flat against the floor. Place your hands under your tail bone. Raise your legs and point them towards the ceiling. Contract your belly and flex your glutes while lifting your hips slightly off the ground. Lower your hips and then repeat. This exercise is a very subtle one, so don’ t think you are doing it wrong. Just like the description states, it is a ‘pulse-up.’
• Lying toe touches: Lying on your back, raise your legs over your hips while keeping your knees slightly bent. Simultaneously, raise your arms up and point your hands towards your toes. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as you try to touch your toes. Hold for a count of 2 and then lower your shoulders and head back to the floor and repeat as necessary.
• V-sit and twist-sit: Lying on your back, bend your legs at a 45 degree angle in front of you. Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground. Place your hands on top of each other in front of your chest, extend your elbows out from your sides. Lean back slowly until you are at a slight angle. Keep your arms in position and slowly rotate to the right, returning to the start position, now rotate to the left. That is one repetition! Repeat for designated reps.
• Stomach vacuum: Practicing the vacuum will give you more control over your abdominals. In turn, you will be less likely to let your tummy bulge out. To perform these, exhale deeply, take a slight breath and then pull/suck in your stomach towards your spine. Hold this position for a solid 10 seconds (at least) while holding your breath, then release and breathe. You can perform these standing or lying flat on the floor.
THE COMPLETE ROUTINE
A. Pulse-Up: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
B. Lying Toe Touches: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
C. V-Sit and Twist: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
D. Stomach Vacuums: 3 sets of 15-20 seconds
Perform these in a circuit/consecutive fashion: A→B→C→D. Meaning you start with one set of pulse-ups, rest shortly, then perform one set of lying toe touches, rest, and so on. Once you’ve completed one set of all four exercises, that equals one circuit.
Rest for 20-30 seconds in between each set. Once you complete one set of all 4 exercises (one circuit) take a break long enough to recover and continue on to the next circuit. Repeat until you complete all three rounds. You should be able to complete this in 20 minutes or less. Once this becomes easier challenge yourself focus on increasing the reps and then adding a fourth circuit.
Once you’ve mastered this routine, you can go an extra mile and add planks to the circuits. The plank is a great core stabilization/strengthening exercise that is simple to perform anywhere. Get into position like you ’ re going to do a push-up, and rest your forearms on the floor while keeping the rest of your body elevated off the ground (toes should be the only other part of the body touching the ground). Once in position, hold it for 20-30 seconds to complete one set. As you progress, challenge yourself by holding the position longer, or try talking one of your feet off the ground to make it more difficult.