A 10-minute Abs Workout

Tone up your Abs

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Exercises to get your abs into shape

This is a simple routine (only requires ten minutes to complete) that will help you tone and tighten your abdominal muscles.

It also works your oblique muscles, lower back and core muscles.

Abdominal workout

This is a very short abdominal wokout (10-minutes only), add a 5-minute warm-up routine before starting, to avoid injuries and to get your muscles warm and oxygenated, and a 5-minute stretch after your workout, to cool down and unwind.

Total time needed: 20 minutes

Warm up before you start

Warming up helps to prevent injury by putting your muscles and joints into action gradually. It activates your cardiovascular system, increasing blood flow to your muscles.

The activity will also raise your body temperature. It will help to reduce muscle soreness after your exercise routine.

Warming up before your workout

> > See our Warm-up Routine.

The Workout itself

1. Stomach crunch

Stomach Crunch, A. Whittall

Start with the "stomach crunch", it targets your abdominal muscles exclusively.

Crunches will have a gradual effect, building up your abdominal muscles over time.

As shown in the image, lie on the floor (use a mat to prevent back pain). Bend your knees and place both feet hip-width apart, flat on the floor.

Rest your hands on your thighs (alternatively you can place them behind your ears or across your chest).

Slowly raise the upper part of your body, head and chest towards your knees, feel your abs as they tense.

Exhale as you rise.

Curl upwards until your shoulders are rougly 3 inches (7.5 cm) off the mat.

Hold it there for a couple of seconds and then slowly lower down back to the lying position.

Inhale as you lower.

Repeat 12 times.

Tips for safe and effective stomach crunches

  • Don't go overboard in your first stages: crunches may cause back pain for beginners
  • If you place your hands behind your ears, don't pull on your neck.
  • Raise your head in a gradual smooth movement (don't yank it off the mat).
  • Maintain the same angle between head-neck and back. Don't tuck your chin into your chest.
  • The strength has to come from your abs, not from your upper body

2. Oblique crunch

This exercise targets your oblique muscles, which are on either side of your abdomen, between your hips and your pectoral muscles, and roughly half the way inwards towards your midline.

Again, lie on the met, bend your knees with your feet hip-width apart resting flat on the floor.

As in the stomach crunch, you can place your hands behind your ears or lying across your chest.

Now roll your knees sideways to one side, down, to the floor.

In this position curl upwards slowly -as in the stomach crunch- until your shoulders are 3 in. of the mat (7.5 cm).

Hold this position for a few seconds and, slowly lower your upper torso until it rests on the mat.

Repeat 12 times

Now shift your knees to the other side and do another 12 reps.


As with the stomach crunches, you mus rise smoothly (no yanking) and keep your neck and head in their original angle (don't push your head forward towards your chest as you rise).

3. Plank

Plank, A. Whittall

This exercise focuses on your lower back muscles and your core muscles.

Lie face down on the mat. Rest your forearms beside your head, face down and your toes touching the mat.

Push upwards until you are propped up on both forearms and toes only.

Your face should be facing down, looking towards the mat.

Your upper arms should form a 90° angle with your forearms, shoulders directly above your elbows.

Your legs should be straight (keep your hips up), and your back and neck too.

A straight and rigid (plank-like) position from head to toe.

Focus on keeping your abs contracted.

Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat.

Repeat 10 times

Plank tips

Beginners can start with an easier version of this exercise: keep your knees (not your toes) on the floor.

Don't lift your head to look forward, look down at the floor.

Focus on keeping your hips in line with back and legs, don't let them drop.

4. Side Plank

Side Plank exercise, A. Whittall

The side plank targets your lower back muscles and your core muscles (like the plank).

Lie on one side, propped up on your elbow, your lower arm at right angle with your body, shoulder directly above your elbow.

The upper arm should rest straight along your upper side (see image).

Keep your legs straight and lift your hips off the mat to form a straight (plank-like) rigid posture from head to toe.

Don't bend your head downwards, keep it inline with your position, look outwards.

Contract your abdominal muscles as you hold the position for 10 seconds.

Repeat 10 times

Switch sides and do it again, 10 times

Side Plank tips

Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.

Beginners can do a less strenuous version by keeping their knees on the mat and forming the "plank" with their torso, hips and upper legs.

Keep your hips forward throughout the routine.

5. Stomach Crunch with raised legs

Stomach Crunch with raised legs, A. Whittall

This exercises focuses on your lower abdominal muscles.

Lie on your back, on the mat with feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and knees bent.

Place your hands across your chest. And keep your head and back resting firmly on the mat.

Slowly raise your knees and pull them inwards, towards your chest, keep them bent 90° until your buttocks and coccyx (tailbone) are off the floor.

Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower your legs (keep them at the same angle) until feet touch floor again.

Repeat 12 times


As with the regular crunches, don't yank up your neck, keep back resting on the mat.

Harder version

This one requires you to raise your legs as before, but don't drop them. Instead perform 12 reps by slowly raising your upper back off the floor 3 inches (7.5 cm), and then holding it in this position for a few seconds before slowly returning to a lying position -legs upright.

Basically it is a stomach crunch but with your legs in the air instead of bent, with feet resting on the floor.

Finish your routine with a 5-minute stretch session

After you've completed your workout, unwind and stretch.

Effect of abs exercise on abdominal fat

man displaying his 6-pack abs
Six-pack abs.

A study by Vispute et al., (2011) ( 1 ) investigated the effect of abdominal exercises on abdominal fat. The scientists took a group of 24 healthy sedentary men and women (ages 18 to 40 years) and assigned them at random into two groups.

One group performed abdominal exercise (Abdominal exercise group or AG), the other didn't (control group or CG).

The AG worked out for 6 weeks 5-days a week using a routine of 7 different abs exercises -in 2 sets of 10 reps each.

They all maintained their same intake of calories.

The study found that "There was no significant effect of abdominal exercises on body weight, body fat percentage, android fat percentage, android fat, abdominal circumference...".

Six weeks of abdominal exercise training alone was not sufficient to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat and other measures of body compositionVispute et al., 2011

The positive note is that the abdominal workouts improved their muscular endurance much more than that of the non-exercising control group.

Take home point:

Abs workouts will not reduce waist circumference or subcutaneous belly fat.

But don't despair, there is plenty you can do at home to flatten your belly and eliminate abdominal fat. You will also see some results after a couple of weeks.

Tips for a flatter Belly

Read about how to get a flat tummy with exercise and lifestyle changes:

> > Tips for a Flatter Belly

Cite this article:

. ©2019. A 10-minute abs workout. Patagonia Wellness, 10 Jan. 2019. http://www.patagoniawellness.com/fitness/ten-minute-abs-workout.html

Tags: abs, abdominals workout, abs routine, abs workout, plank, side plank, stomach crunch, physical activity, exercise program,

Subject: Ten-minute abs workout, a quick 10-minute abdominal workout to tone and strenghten your abdomen. Works abdominal, oblique, lower back and core muscles.


References and Further Reading

(1) Vispute SS, Smith JD, LeCheminant JD, Hurley KS., (2011). The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat, J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fb4a46