The Ultimate 15-Minute Ab Workout: From Beginner to Pro!

Want to sculpt those abs but don’t have much time on your hands? Don’t sweat it! This 15-minute ab workout is the perfect solution. Whether you’re a newbie or a fitness junkie, this guide has got you covered. Let’s dive right in!

1. The Classic Plank

Why: This timeless exercise not only targets the core muscles but also enhances your overall strength and stability.

  • Beginner:
    • Start on your hands and knees in a table-top position.
    • Extend your legs straight out behind you, coming onto the balls of your feet.
    • Ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders.
    • Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
    • Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Advanced:
    • Get into the plank position as mentioned above.
    • Once stable, lift one leg off the ground, holding it straight out behind you.
    • Hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs.
    • Repeat for 30 seconds.

2. The Russian Twist

Why: This exercise is fantastic for targeting the oblique muscles (sides of your abdomen).

  • Beginner:
    • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
    • Lean slightly back without rounding your spine.
    • Hold your hands together in front of you.
    • Twist your torso to the left, then to the right to complete one rep.
    • Do this for 45 seconds.
  • Advanced:
    • Follow the same steps but hold a weight (like a dumbbell or a filled water bottle) in your hands.
    • Twist for 45 seconds.

3. Leg Raises

Why: Ideal for targeting the lower abs.

  • Beginner:
    • Lie flat on your back, hands at your sides or under your hips for support.
    • Keep your legs straight, and lift them up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.
    • Slowly lower them back down but don’t let them touch the floor.
    • Do this for 45 seconds.
  • Advanced:
    • Add ankle weights for added resistance.
    • Perform the raises for 45 seconds.

4. Bicycle Crunches

Why: This dynamic movement is excellent for the entire core region.

  • Beginner:
    • Lie on your back with hands behind your head.
    • Bring your knees towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
    • Rotate your torso to the right, bringing your left elbow to your right knee.
    • Switch sides to complete one rep.
    • Do this for 45 seconds.
  • Advanced:
    • Increase your speed without compromising form.
    • Go for 1 minute.

5. Mountain Climbers

Why: A full-body workout that especially targets the core.

  • Beginner:
    • Start in a plank position.
    • Bring your right knee towards your chest and quickly switch to bring your left knee towards your chest.
    • Do this for 45 seconds at a moderate pace.
  • Advanced:
    • Speed up the movement, almost like you’re running in place.
    • Go all out for 1 minute.

Cool-down: Never skip the cool-down! Stretch your abs by lying face-down and pushing your upper body up, arching your back. Hold for 30 seconds. Then, sit back onto your heels, reaching your arms out in front for a child’s pose. Hold for another 30 seconds.

Wrap-up: Consistency is key! Doing this 15-minute ab workout a few times a week can make a significant difference in your core strength and definition. Remember, combine this with a balanced diet and regular cardio for the best results. And most importantly, have fun with it! Your abs will thank you later.

How Focusing on Abdominal Exercises Can Keep You from Getting a Six Pack Abs

Ask most people what to do to get six-pack abs and they’ll tell you to do more ab crunches. Are they giving you good advice? In many people’s minds, ab crunches are synonymous with six-pack abs. Unfortunately, that way of thinking gets in the way of carving out a set of strong, defined abs. It might sound counter-intuitive, but to get abs that pop, you should do fewer exercises that specifically target the abdominal muscles.

Of course, you shouldn’t completely banish crunches from your ab routine, because according to ACE they are still the best ab exercises that target the entire abdomen, but don’t count on them alone to give you six-pack abs. Crunches are an isolation exercise that only works the muscles in your abdominal region. You don’t burn a lot of calories when you crunch, and that’s one of the drawbacks to doing them.

The real reason most people don’t develop six-pack abs is that they have too much fat covering their ab muscles. All ab crunches do is strengthen and define the underlying muscle They aren’t effective at removing the layer of fat that covers them and that’s the limiting factor for most people! So what’s a girl to do?

Focus on Exercise that Burns More Body Fat

Since most guys and gals who yearn for a six-pack have too much ab fat, fat-burning exercise helps those abs come out of hiding. High-intensity interval training where you do short periods of intense exercise followed by recovery intervals is effective for burning ab fat, and studies suggest it may be more beneficial than moderate-intensity cardio exercise for burning fat.

Keep the active intervals short but intense, 20 to 30 seconds of an exercise that boosts your heart rate, followed by a recovery interval where you keep moving but at a lower intensity. By alternating periods of intense exercise with low-intensity recovery intervals, you create an after-burn that helps with fat loss. After-burn is where your body burns more calories after a workout is over. High-intensity intervals place more stress on the body, as it must work harder to recover. But that stress is what primes your body for burning tummy fat.

How about Strength Training?

Strength training is a must for developing strong, defined abs, but that doesn’t mean you should spend hours each week doing crunches. Instead, focus on strength training that works the most muscle groups, including the muscles in your abs and core. Believe it or not, squats, deadlifts, and push-ups will help you build abs. These exercises work multiple muscle groups, including your abs and core muscles, but they burn lots of calories and body fat. That’s because you’re working multiple muscle groups at the same time and you’re hitting the muscles in your lower body. The big muscles are the calorie burners! In contrast, your abs are small muscles and don’t burn many calories, no matter how many crunches you do. Lifting heavy weights also boosts fat burning more than going light. Choose a resistance that thoroughly fatigues your muscles after 6-10 reps.

Challenge Your Core Too

The muscles that make up your abs are only a small part of a bigger muscle group called the core. The core includes all the muscles in the middle of your body, the muscles in your back, abs, spine, and the floor of your pelvis. In total, you have more than 20 core muscles. If you only focus on your ab muscles in the front, you’re not training your core in a balanced manner.

Strong abs must be balanced by strong back muscles to avoid muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances in the core can alter your posture in a way that makes your mid-section look less lean and defined. Not to mention, core exercises strengthen a deep abdominal muscle called the transverse abdominis that helps hold in your abs like a girdle. Most abdominal exercises neglect this muscle.

What exercises are best? Substitute plank exercises for a portion of the ab crunches you’re currently doing. Once you can hold a basic plank for 30 seconds, add more advanced plank variations. There are close to 50 different variations on a plank. Some, like the side plank, works your oblique muscles and also add a balance challenge. Others, like plank jacks, burn calories while you target your core. Explore the many plank variations and start challenging your abs and core in a new way!

Don’t Neglect Your Diet

The trite phrase about abs being made in the kitchen is true, and the 80/20 rule holds as well. Getting six-pack is 80% kitchen work, meaning good nutrition, and 20% exercise. And when they say exercise, they aren’t referring exclusively to crunches. Cut back on ultra-processed food, junk food, and sugar-sweetened stuff, even fruit juice. Add more fiber and high-quality protein to your diet. You can do the right exercises for six-pack abs and still blow it in the kitchen.

The Bottom Line

Look beyond ab crunches if you want to carve a six-pack. Do some ab crunches, but make sure they’re part of a balanced workout and sound nutrition.


Men’s Health. “Six-Pack Science”

Exercise Physiology. Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. Howley and Powers. 2009.