This abs workout pulls double duty: It not only carves and tightens your core, but it also prevents lower back pain in the process, says Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour.
The routine consists of five core stability exercises: bird dog, hollow-body hold, front plank, side plank, and back plank. Each exercise hits your midsection from a different angle, sculpting and strengthening your midsection in 360 degrees, he says.
Related: RIPTENSITY—Fast Bodyweight Workouts From Men’s Health That Are So Intense, They Rip Away Body Fat!
And since they’re stability exercises, you’ll train your core to resist potentially spine-damaging motions like rotation, flexion, and extension, Gaddour explains.
Watch the video above to see Gaddour demonstrate the movements. Then try this classic core workout for yourself.
How to Do the Core Workout
Perform each move for 60 seconds, resting 15 seconds between each one. Complete all five exercises to finish one round. Do 3 to 5 rounds total.
1. Bird dog
2. Hollow-body hold
3. Front plank
4. Side plank
5. Back plank
There are 3 different levels for each move: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Choose the variation you can do with perfect form for 60 seconds straight.
- 10 Best Bodyweight Exercises To Train Your Core
- Back workouts
- Back Workout – Session 1
- Superset 1
- Superset 2
- Superset 3
- Back Workout – Session 2
- 6 Helpful Bodyweight Exercises for a Strong Back
- 1. Low Plank
- 2. High Plank
- 3. Bridge
- 4. Superman
- 5. Quadruped Limb Raises
- 6. Push-up
- 7-minute back workout
- Bodyweight workouts
- Bodyweight Workout 1: Range and Tempo
- Bodyweight Workout 2: Points of contact
- Bodyweight Workout 3: Range, Tempo and Stability
10 Best Bodyweight Exercises To Train Your Core
All you need for these 10 bodyweight core exercises is some space, a few minutes, and a motivated attitude—no suspension trainers, stability balls, ab wheels, or dumbbells necessary. The one apparatus you might want on hand is a foam mat to protect your lower back from whatever firm surface you’ll be doing these exercises on.
Ab exercises can improve your posture, reduce and prevent lower-back pain, and advance your athletic performance. With enough reps and a good meal plan, these exercises might even trim up your waist a bit more.
Add these 10 bodyweight moves to the beginning, middle, or end of your routine to make sure your abs get the attention they need.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat and place your palms on the floor. Keeping your hands on the floor, immediately kick your legs behind you so that you end up in the top of a push-up position. Do a push-up and return to the top position. Still keeping your hands on the floor, quickly draw up your legs so your feet land back between your hands. Now, jump vertically with your hands reaching overhead above your ears. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: To do a “mobility burpee,” squat down and kick your legs back. Now, instead of doing a push-up, bring your right leg forward and place your foot on the outside of your right hand. (Getting into this position is sometimes known as “doing a groiner.”) Bring your right leg back to the push-up position and repeat the process with your left leg, bringing your left foot up to the outside of your left hand. Return your left leg back to the top push-up position, quickly bring both legs back up to the low squat position, then stand and jump. That’s one mobility burpee rep.
2. Jackknife Sit-Up
Lie on your back with your legs straight out on the floor, your arms extended above your head, and your hands touching the floor. This is the starting position. Bring your body to a “V” shape by lifting your legs and torso toward each other, keeping both your legs straight and your arms extended. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground as you raise your legs as close to perpendicular to the floor as you can. Touch your hands to your legs, then lower your torso, arms, and legs back to the floor. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: A modified version is called the X-Up. To do this, lie on your back with your feet and legs spread apart to form an “X” shape on the floor. Keeping your right arm and left leg straight, lift your right shoulder and left leg off the ground and touch your right hand to the outside of your left knee or ankle. Return to the X position and repeat the movement, this time touching your left hand to the outside of your right knee or ankle.
3. Mountain Climber
Get into the top of the push-up position. This is the starting position. Keeping your back in a straight line, bring your right knee toward your chest, then quickly bring it back to the starting position. Now, bring your left knee in towards your chest and return to starting position. Now speed up the movement, alternating legs quickly as if you were running in place with your hands on the ground.
Trainer Tip: To increase tension on your abdominal muscles, place the palms of your hands on sliding discs such as Valslides, SKLZ Slidez, paper plates, or weight plates.
Lie on your back with legs extended and your heels touching the floor. Straighten your arms above your head with your hands touching the floor. This is the starting position. Simultaneously bend both legs and bring your knees to your chest as you bring your arms down to hug your knees. Now, release your knees and extend your legs and arms again, returning your heels back to the ground. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: To increase the difficulty, keep your heels off the ground for all of the reps.
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5. Oblique Crunch
Lie on your back on the floor. Keep your legs bent in the air at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on the back of your head with your elbows flared out to each side. This is the starting position. Twist (rotate) your torso to move your right shoulder toward your left thigh until your upper back is off the floor and your right elbow is close to or touching your left knee. Lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat the movement, this time rotating your left shoulder toward your right knee. Alternate reps between your right and left sides.
Trainer Tip: This is not a bicycle crunch or air bike, where you pedal your legs above the ground the entire time. Once your elbow and knee touch, return to the starting position before switching sides for the next rep. For a more intense exercise, kick one leg out straight as you bring your elbow to the other.
6. Hanging Leg Raise
Hang from a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Grab the bar using an overhand (pronated) grip. This is the starting position. Lift both of your knees until they make a 90-degree angle with your torso. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then fully extend your legs below you. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: To increase intensity, instead of bending your legs as you raise them, keep them straight. Raise them up as high as possible, hold that position for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position.
Assume the top push-up position. Now bend your elbows and place your forearms flat on the floor beneath you. Tighten your ab muscles to keep your back flat. Make sure your toes are pointed into the ground. Hold the position for the prescribed duration.
Trainer Tip: Incorporate side planks into your routine for oblique strength. To do a side plank, rotate from the plank position so that you’re supported by your right forearm. Stack your left foot on top of your right foot and extend your left arm towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Roll your body so that you’re now supporting your body on your left forearm with your right arm extended toward the ceiling.
8. Dead Bug
Lie on your back with your knees bent in the air at 90 degrees and your calves parallel to the floor. Raise both arms up above you so they are pointed toward the ceiling. This is the starting position. Now, straighten your left leg without touching it to the ground. Your back will want to arch, but use your abdominal muscles to keep it pressed firmly into the floor. Return your left leg to the starting position and repeat the movement with your right leg. Return both legs to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: Instead of keeping both arms pointed to the ceiling, extend them one at a time. As you straighten your left leg to the floor, extend your right arm above your head until your hand touches the floor. One arm should always be in the starting position (above your chest and pointed towards the ceiling) while the other is extended above your head with the hand close to or touching the floor.
9. Reverse Crunch
Lie down on your back with your legs fully extended, your arms along your sides, and your palms on the floor. Move your legs up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your feet are together. This is the starting position.
As you breathe in, pull your knees toward your chest as you roll your pelvis backward and raise your hips and upper back off the floor. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds, then exhale as you move your legs back to the starting position.
Trainer Tip: Keep your arms straight along your sides throughout this movement.
10. Seated Scissor Kick
Lie down with your back pressed against the floor and your arms fully extended to each side with your palms facing down. With a slight bend in your knees, lift your legs up so that your heels are about 6 inches off the ground. Contract your abs and bring your back slightly off the floor. This is the starting position.
As if your legs were a pair of scissors, open and close them by crossing one extended leg over the other, alternating which leg is on top. Keep your abs flexed at all times.
Trainer Tip: Don’t let your back round. Keep your abs tight to maintain a strong, straight spine. For more intensity, raise your arms up and make small, slow clockwise circles with your shoulders as you scissor kick your legs.
101 Best Workouts Of All Time is the ultimate answer to the question “What workout should I do?” No matter what equipment you have available, from a fully-stocked supergym to a pair of mismatched dumbbells in your garage, or nothing but your body weight alone, you can build muscle, lose fat, and sculpt the physique you’ve always wanted.
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U.S. troops keep up with their training even when they’re deployed to areas where they have nothing to work out with but the ground beneath them. If the lack of a gym membership and equipment is the excuse you’ve been using for avoiding workouts, let this plan—designed by a 20- year Marine—set you straight.
HOW IT WORKS
Basic exercises like the leg raise and flutter kick will never die. Partly because they can be done anywhere, but mostly because they work. Unfortunately, they also burn. Working with higher reps and holding uncomfortable positions for time will condition your abs along with your heart and may toughen you up mentally, too.
Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in sequence without rest. Afterward, rest 60 seconds, and then repeat the circuit once more.
START THE WORKOUT!
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1. LEG RAISE
Sets: 2 Reps: 10 Rest: 0 sec.
Lie on the floor and hold onto a bench or the legs of a heavy chair for support. Keep your legs straight and raise them up until they’re vertical. Lower back down, but stop just short of the floor to keep tension on your abs before the next rep.
2. ARMS HIGH PARTIAL SITUP
Sets: 2 Reps: 20 Rest: 0 sec.
Lie on your back, knees bent 90 degrees, and raise your arms straight overhead, keeping them pointing upward throughout the exercise. Sit up halfway and then return to the floor.
3. FLUTTER KICK
Sets: 2 Reps: 20 (each leg) Rest: 0 sec.
Lie on your back with legs straight and extend your arms by your sides. Lift your heels about six inches and rapidly kick your feet up and down in a quick, scissor-like motion.
4. STAR PLANK
Sets: 2 Reps: Hold for 30 sec Rest: 60 sec.
Get into pushup position. Move your arms and feet apart as wide as possible—your body will make a star shape. Hold the position with your torso straight and abs braced for 30 seconds
Men’s Fitness training director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., assembled a team of the best trainers in the world to create boredom-beating, plateau-busting routines that cover any amount of time you have to exercise and whatever tools you have available to do it. Programs cover every body part, every implement (barbells, dumbbells, bands, etc.), and cardio. There’s a nutrition plan, too.
Pick up what Arnold Schwarzenegger called “a fantastic collection of workouts” at 101bestworkouts.com.
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If there’s one part of the body that you absolutely should be making sure to target with your workouts, it’s your back. While it’s tempting to focus on mirror muscles like your chest, biceps and abs, building a strong back is key to progressing when lifting weights, as well as increasing your resilience when it comes to sports-related injuries or the back niggles that plague our nation of deskbound workers. And even if your sole focus with your gym work is aesthetics, then you should know that building up your back is going to make you look absolute dynamite in a T-shirt.
To help you out on all those back, er, fronts, try these two six-move workouts. Each workout involves working through three supersets, and both target all the major muscle groups in the back. Both are supremely tough, which you’ll quickly realise when you see the very first superset in workout 1 involves five sets of two different kinds of pull-ups. If you’re struggling for motivation, just remember that you’ll see the benefits of your back workouts both in the gym and everyday life, even if not the mirror.
Back Workout – Session 1
How to do the workout
This is a six-move session divided into three supersets. Complete a set of move 1A, rest for 30sec, then do a set of 1B, then rest for 60sec. Continue this pattern until all the sets are completed, then use the same method for the other two supersets, to keep working your back hard.
Warm up thoroughly, starting with some shoulder, elbow and wrist movements, then by doing some light lat pull-downs, interspersed with more mobility work in the rest periods between warm-up sets. Gradually increase the weight of each warm-up set while reducing the reps until you’re ready for the first proper work set.
Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 30sec
Why It’s the classic bodyweight move for a wider back.
How Hang from a bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Brace your abs and glutes, engage your lats, then pull your chin up and over the bar. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.
1B Hammer-grip pull-up
Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 60sec
Why Changing your hand position makes the move slightly easier so you can hit your back muscles harder.
How Hang with a hands-facing, shoulder-width grip. Brace your abs and glutes, engage your lats, then pull your chin up and over the bar. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.
These two moves work well together in a superset because they use the same kit and the same space, but the movement patterns are very different to work all the major muscles of your back. For the first move, focus on a quality hold at the top position to engage more muscle fibres. For the second, use a light weight to minimise the involvement of any momentum and make the target muscles move. Manage the weight through each and every rep.
2A Prone dumbbell row
Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 30sec
Why It allows you to lift heavy – and hit your mid-back muscles – in safety.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping your chest against the bench, row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Pause briefly at the top, then lower the weights.
2B Prone dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12-15 Rest 60sec
Why It hits your upper back as well as the back of your shoulders.
How Lie chest-down on the bench holding light dumbbells. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights to shoulder height, then lower them back to the start.
This final superset will push your already tiring back muscles to the limit to break down as many muscle fibres as possible so they grow back bigger and stronger. It’s a tough end to a tough workout, but both moves also recruit the biceps, which will get in on the act to help your rapidly fatiguing back muscles get over the finish line.
3A Underhand lat pull-down
Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 30sec
Why This brings your biceps into play to help out your tiring lats.
How Sit supported on the machine, holding a straight bar with an underhand shoulder-width grip. Keeping your chest up, pull the bar down to below chin height. Pause, then return to the start.
3B Seated row
Sets 4 Reps 12-15 Rest 60sec
Why It works your upper back and your biceps again help out.
How Sit at the machine holding the handle with a palms-facing grip. Keeping your chest up and your core braced, pull the handle in towards your bellybutton, leading with your elbows. Pause briefly then return to the start position.
Back Workout – Session 2
This is a six-move session divided into three supersets. Do all the reps of move 1A then move on to 1B, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest detailed. Then follow this pattern with moves 2A and 2B, then 3A and 3B, to add size and build strength across your back.
Warm up with 10 to 15 empty bar bent-over rows and upright rows, then gradually increase the weight on the bar – while reducing the number of reps per set – until you get to your working-set weight.
1A Bent-over row
Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 30sec
Why The classic lift for a big back.
How Hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Hinge forwards from the hips, then row the bar towards you, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then lower the bar.
1B Upright row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It hits your traps to create a wider frame.
How Stand tall with your chest up and abs and core braced, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Row the bar up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then slowly lower the bar back to the start.
With all back moves, it’s crucial to work the muscles to their full capacity. One of the best ways to do so is to pause at the “top” part of each rep and really squeeze the working muscles hard as they work overtime to keep the weight under control.
2A Wide-grip lat pull-down
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 30sec
Why A wide grip works your lats more.
How Sit on the machine and take a wide overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up, pull the bar down to chin level. Hold that position for a one-count, then slowly return the bar to the start, keeping tension on your lats throughout.
2B Seated cable row
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why It works the muscles of the middle of your upper back.
How Grip the handle with both hands. Sit back and with your chest up, pull that handle towards your bellybutton. Pause, then return to the start position.
In this final two superset the two moves look similar, but you must use lighter dumbbells for move 3B. That’s because more muscles are involved in the first move, so you’re substantially stronger, whereas going too heavy on move 3B can risk damaging your shoulder joint. Prioritise good form and range of motion over weight.
3A Prone dumbbell row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 30sec
Why It works each side of your back independently.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Hold for a one-count at the top, then lower them slowly.
3B Prone dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It’s one of the best moves for hitting the rear delts.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to the sides until they reach shoulder height. Pause for a one-count, then lower them under control.
6 Helpful Bodyweight Exercises for a Strong Back
Are you wondering how to get a stronger back? Personal trainer Sven recommends trying the following 6 bodyweight exercises from the Runtastic Results app. You don’t need any equipment for these – just your own body weight.
“In general, bodyweight exercises often require a lot of core stability,” says Sven. The personal trainer adds, “To develop this core stability, your abs and back have to learn to work together. Because one can’t be strong or stronger without the other. That’s why besides exercises with additional weight like squats, deadlifts and pull-ups the following exercises are part of my basic training for a strong back.”
1. Low Plank
Lie on your stomach. Bend your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your forearms on the floor. Extend your legs and rest the balls of your feet on the floor.
How to do the exercise:
Lift your hips and thighs off the floor until your body is parallel to the floor. Engage your core and make sure that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Tuck your pelvis under to ensure a flat back. Don’t let your lower back (lumbar region) sag or lift. In the thoracic region, pull your shoulder blades in and down.
2. High Plank
Get on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
Extend your legs and rest the balls of your feet against the floor. Your body should be diagonal to the floor. Engage your core and make sure that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Tuck your pelvis under and make sure your back is flat. Don’t let your lower back (lumbar region) sag or lift. In the thoracic region, pull your shoulder blades in and down.
Lie on your back and rest your head on the floor. Bend your knees so your heels are directly under your knees. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms facing down.
Tuck your pelvis under to ensure a flat lower back (lumbar region). In the thoracic region, pull your shoulder blades in and down. Raise your hips towards the ceiling until they are fully extended and hold this position for 10 seconds while squeezing your glutes. Then lower your hips – ideally, without touching the floor – and repeat the exercise.
Lie flat on your stomach. Extend your arms forward, palms on the ground.
Raise your upper body and then your legs to form an arch. Make sure that your knees and your chest do not touch the floor. Keep your head and neck neutral. Do not overextend your neck and keep your chin tucked. You can bend your arms slightly at the elbows as you extend them up and forward. You can increase or decrease your body tension by slightly raising or lowering your upper body and/or legs simultaneously.
5. Quadruped Limb Raises
Get on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows slightly and place your knees directly under your hips. Your body should be parallel to the floor. Make sure that your body forms a straight line from your head to your buttocks. In the thoracic region, pull your shoulder blades in and down.
Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward while keeping your back straight. Hold this position for three to ten seconds and then lower back to start. Repeat on the other side.
Get on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows slightly. Extend your legs and rest the balls of your feet against the floor. Engage your core and make sure that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. In the thoracic region, pull your shoulder blades in and down.
Lower your upper body and your hips simultaneously. Make sure to engage your core through the whole movement. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body and inhale as you lower down and exhale as you push up.
7-minute back workout
Interested in more? In this video, you can find a 7-minute back workout. Have fun with it!
People who believe that you have to wield heavy weights in order to build big muscles have simply never used their body in the right way. Get creative with your bodyweight workouts and you can lose fat, get fitter and bulk up without ever having to touch a weight plate or dumbbell.
Below you’ll find three bodyweight workouts that demonstrate the truth of those words. They’re all designed by bodyweight-training master Sean Bartram, who used to be the trainer for the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders, helping them to develop show-stopping gymnastic power.
“Think of your body as an empty barbell,” says Bartram. “Changing the pace you move it with, holding awkward positions, adding instability and shaking up classic moves you’ve done all your life serve as the 20kg weight plates you load it up with.”
The advantages of working with just your bodyweight include being able to train anywhere without lugging equipment around with you, and increased body awareness. You’ll never have to worry about queues for the bench press or squat rack again either, which we reckon is reason enough to switch to bodyweight workouts.
How it Works
Bartram’s athletes – especially cheerleaders – must be able to throw their bodyweight around with ease, but not every exercise is done at high tempo. This plan slows the pace down with pauses, increased range of motion, decreased stability and variations on classic moves to keep your muscles challenged. The result will be functional muscle you never thought you’d own.
There are three full-body workouts to spread across the week. The first four moves each day use timed reps called EMOMs (every minute on the minute) or slow tempos that force you to do high reps and keep the muscles under tension. The last two in each workout will spike your heart rate to keep you burning calories.
Bodyweight Workout 1: Range and Tempo
Shake up the pace to amplify your muscles
1 Deep squat
Time 10min EMOM Reps 15
Hold a towel overhead with your arms straight and keep it taut. This will force you to keep your chest up and improve your form. Bend your legs to lower slowly, keeping your knees wide apart, until your hamstrings touch your calves. Then drive back up slowly. Set a timer for ten minutes. Do 15 reps at the start of each minute, and rest for the remainder of each minute. This keeps your heart rate high for more fat loss.
2 Bulgarian split squat
Sets 5 Time 60sec Reps 60sec
Think of this as a lunge with your foot elevated for an extra stability challenge. Put one foot, laces down, on a bench behind you and the other in front. Bend your front leg to lower your body, then drive back up. Keep your body upright throughout and your front knee in line with your toes.
Vary the tempo with each set of these split squats so your muscles are under load for long muscle-building spells. Below is how it breaks down. The first number is the seconds the lowering part should take, then how long you pause for, then how long you take to drive up. The fifth set is max isolation, holding the deepest position for the whole minute.
3 Squat jump with floor touch
Sets 3 Reps 15
Bend your legs, keeping your knees wide apart and your heels in contact with the floor, to drop into a deep squat. Place your hands lightly on the floor and pause for two seconds, then drive up off the floor powerfully, clapping your hands together overhead. The two-second pause removes any rebounding effect to help you build greater strength in the deep squat position.
4 Bridge kick
Time 10min EMOM Reps 10 each leg
Sit on the floor with one leg bent, one straight and your fingers pointing towards your feet. Push into the floor and squeeze your glutes to slowly raise your hips until they’re level with your stabilising knee while raising your straight leg until it’s at 90° to your torso. Slowly lower to the start. Complete all the reps on one side, then switch.
5A Press-up burpee
Sets 10-1 ladder
From standing, drop down and place your hands on the floor outside your feet. Jump your feet back and do a press-up, then hop your feet back to between your hands. Jump up, clapping your hands overhead. Do ten reps of 5A, then go straight into ten each side of 5B. Then nine, eight and so on, resting as needed.
5B Jump lunge
Sets 10-1 ladder
Start in a forwards lunge position with your arms out for balance. Jump off the ground by driving up with your front leg. Swap your legs over in mid-air so you land with the other leg forward. Alternate legs for each rep.
Bodyweight Workout 2: Points of contact
Shift your grip and stance on classic moves for upgraded gains
1A Spider-Man press-up
Sets 4 Reps 20/10/5/1
Start in the top of a press-up position. Bend your arms to lower your chest until it’s just off the floor and simultaneously bring one knee up to your elbow, then return to the start. Alternate knees. When you’ve completed the reps, go straight to 1B without resting. On the final single rep, make this super-slow – do it over a ten count.
1B Wide-grip pull-up
Sets 4 Reps 15/10/5/1
Grasp a bar with an overhand grip so your palms are facing away from you and your hands are double shoulder-width apart. Contract your upper back muscles and pull your sternum towards the bar. Then lower under control. Rest for 5sec per rep. Same drill on the final rep: take ten seconds.
2 Pike press-up
Sets 5 Time 60sec Rest 60sec
Adopt a press-up position with your feet on a bench and your back and arms in a straight line. Keep your head tucked in and bend your arms to lower your head until it’s just off the floor. Push up. Use the same tempo as for the Bulgarian split squat in Workout 1. Once you can maintain a perfect L-shape with your body throughout, handstand press-ups are in your sights.
3 L-Sit chin-up
Time 10min EMOM Reps 2
Hang from a pull-up bar with an underhand grip. Contract your core and bring your legs up together until they’re parallel with the floor. From here contract your upper back and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower to a dead hang between each rep.
4A Burpee tuck jump
Sets 4 Time 20sec Rest 10sec
Lower your hands to the floor and jump your feet back into the top of a press-up position. Hop your feet back, then drive up to jump explosively. At the same time tuck your knees towards your chest. Bend your knees to cushion your landing and continue into the next rep.
4B Hanging leg raise
Sets 4 Time 20sec Rest 10sec
Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and contract your upper back muscles. Contract your core and bring your legs up together until they’re parallel with the floor, then lower them back down to the start. Keep your core contracted throughout to avoid swinging.
Bodyweight Workout 3: Range, Tempo and Stability
Stretch, pause and power up for size and strength
1A Shrimp squat
Sets 4 Reps 10/5/3/1
Stand tall and grab one foot with the hand on the same side, pulling it towards your glutes. Put your other hand out for balance and bend your standing leg to lower your other knee until it just touches the floor, then drive back up. Go super-slow on the final rep. This is very tough. Make it easier by releasing your foot – or harder by holding your foot with both hands.
1B Dead hang
Sets 5 Time 1min
Grab the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing forwards, and let yourself hang fully. This decompresses your spine for improved posture while challenging your grip strength. Add in a gentle swing from side to side or change up the grip – narrow, wide, underhand or single arm – to expand the benefit.
Forcing the body to hold a position under tension reveals any chinks in your armour. Just as the plank exposes any weaknesses in your shoulders, core, glutes and thighs, the dead hang uncovers problems with your lats and your grip. Holding that position for longer is a low-impact strength fix.
2 Wide-grip press-up
Sets 5 Time 60sec Rest 60sec
Perform a standard press-up but with your arms double shoulder-width apart. Lower your chest until it’s just off the floor, then press back up until your arms are straight. Use the same tempo method that you used for the Bulgarian split squat in Workout 1.
3 Straight-arm super plank
Sets 5 Time 30sec Rest 30sec
Get into a plank with your arms straight and your weight on your hands and toes. Keep your body in line, feet together and upper arms straight down from shoulders. Squeeze every muscle, from your chest and abs to your glutes and calves. You should be shaking at the end of each set.
This is a classic plank with a double twist. Doing it with straight arms works your chest harder, while full tension keeps your heart pumping fast for a fat-loss bonus. Focusing on squeezing every muscle during a move will engage more muscle fibres than just those targeted with the exercise, transforming a low-energy move into a full-body shock to melt away fat.
4A Incline clap press-up
Sets 1-10 ladder
Start in a press-up position with hands elevated. Lower towards the bench, then explode up until you’re almost standing. Clap your hands, put them back out to break your fall and go into the next rep. This reverses the descending ladder in Workout 1 – start with low reps and climb to the top.
4B Burpee to chin-up
Sets 1-10 ladder
Position yourself under a pull-up bar. Lower your hands to the floor and jump your feet back into the top of a press-up position. Hop your feet back, then drive up to jump up explosively and grab the bar with palms facing you while pulling yourself up into a chin-up. Lower slowly under control, then drop to the floor for the next rep.
Sean Bartram is the author of Bodyweight Workouts For Men and has trained athletes from sports as diverse as IndyCar and American football.
Model: Lee McLaughlin @WAthletic
In this workout we tackle the core from every angle – front, sides, and back – for an incredibly comprehensive workout that will have you sweating your way to the “Workout Complete” screen and likely sore the next day.
Even if you’re only looking for a six pack or a leaner, more toned midsection, it’s incredibly important that you develop well rounded strength within your core. Doing tons of repetitions of exercises that only target the abs will lead to imbalanced strength that can lead to postural issues, as well as an increased likelihood of avoidable injuries. That’s why this workout is so varied and so well engages all of the complimentary muscles of your torso.
Start off with a core specific warm up, then move into back to back core exercises done in intervals of 50 seconds with just 10 seconds of rest in between. These are long active intervals, so feel free to take extra breaks if and when you need to – just keep the breaks as short as you possibly can. There are 5 groups of exercises that you’ll do twice each, in an ABAB format. There is a cool down and stretch included in this video; do not skip it. You won’t need any equipment other than an optional exercise mat.
Printable Abs Workout
Warm Up (30 Seconds Each)
Warrior Lunge & Stretch
Extension & Flexion
Toe Touch Kicks
Standing Side Crunch
Side Crunch Left
Side Crunch Right
Flutter Kick Toe Touch Cross
Side Hip Raises Left
Side Hip Raises Right
Cool Down & Stretch
How often can I do this workout? Can you work abs every day?
We recommend doing this workout 2-3 times a week. Despite what some sources say, the abdominals are muscles like any other, and do need some time to rest and recoup after a good workout; you should not do abs workouts every day.
Does this workout burn belly fat? What’s the best way to lose belly fat and get a toned stomach or six pack?
Routines like this one are great for strengthening the core but typically these exercises are not huge calorie burners, and so are not the best option for actually burning off belly fat. The best way to lose belly fat is to do a combination of total body strength training, and carious types of cardio – particularly high intensity interval training, along with core exercises and a healthy, nutrient dense diet made up of real, whole foods. Watch: The best way to lose belly fat + the truth about six pack abs
Did you make it all the way through this core burnout? Which intervals did you find the most difficult?
Stokes says the most common form mistake she sees during abs exercises is failure to tuck the tailbone, which results in the back being hyperextended. “If you can nail the tucking of the tailbone, drawing your navel toward your spine, it’s going to really help alleviate low-back pain,” she says. Another helpful cue? Keep your lower back grounded. “The lower back needs to be anchored on the ground for the majority of abs work,” Stokes says. When it pops off the floor, you put your back in a vulnerable, hyperextended position.
You may be doing an exercise wrong if you’ve never been properly taught how to do it right, but other times, simply not having enough basic core strength can make it impossible to maintain proper form.
Muscle tightness and fatigue can also lead to poor form and lower-back strain.
If your glutes and hips are really tight, chances are, you’ll feel the strain during daily life and not just mid–abs workout. “This continuous pulling on the lower back can be very uncomfortable and can lead to chronic lower-back pain,” Stahl says. But tightness in your upper back or hip flexors can also limit your range of motion during your workouts and cause strain in your lower back.
Julia Yarwood, YogaSpark Tribeca yoga instructor/studio director and NASM-certified personal trainer, adds that fatigue may play a role here, too. “As your muscles tire, they stop functioning properly, and the body will look for nearby muscle groups to compensate.” Most of the time, the compensation falls to the lower back (and sometimes the hips), she says.
So what can you do? First, stop doing what hurts. Then, avoid movements that cause you pain.
Any pain is a sign you should stop what you’re doing and reassess. “You want to stay in a pain-free zone no matter what,” Giordano says. “If you’re leaving that zone, then you’re doing something that’s causing pain, regardless of whether you have actual lower back issues or not.”
Bottom line: “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it,” Stokes says.
These are the types of core exercises that most commonly cause lower-back pain, and what you can do to modify them:
Exercises that cause hyperextension of the spine
Examples: Low leg lifts, leg tosses, GHD sit-ups
These exercises are usually ones where you’re lying flat on your back and tasked with moving your legs while keeping your lower back down. Tucking the tailbone and keeping your back flat are crucial here.
For some people, basic anatomy makes that tucking position much harder. “We all have that little curve of our spine in the lumbar spine ,” Stokes says. Some people have a bigger natural curve than others, making “gluing your lower back to the mat” incredibly difficult. “Everyone’s spine is a little different. You could be strong as hell, but if you have a massive arch, tucking your tailbone can be tough.”
Exercises that cause hyperflexion of the spine
Example: Sit-ups, hanging leg lifts
For some people, the action of bending forward can cause them to use their hip muscles more, “and it actually could be causing pressure on the spine as you sit all the way up,” Giordano says. He suggests avoiding full-range sit-ups and instead doing basic crunches. “Crunches done correctly are basically 1 inch up 1 inch down.” While crunches sometimes get a bad rap, Giordano and Stokes both say that done right, crunches are a totally fine and useful exercise to include in your overall routine.
Stokes suggests putting a ball in between your thighs when you do sit-ups or crunches to elp relieve your lower back. “It forces you to stabilize your pelvis more. When you’re pressing in with your inner thighs, you’re engaging and feeling the lower part of your abdomen, and you’re able to keep the tuck.” She also says to think of rolling up one vertebrae at a time, focusing on using your abs muscles, and taking your time.
Exercises that twist the spine
Examples: Bicycle crunches, Russian twists