The 5-Minute Abs Workout (With Exercise Descriptions)

Updated on June 5, 2018
Mike Esco profile image

Dr. Mike Esco has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and has over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

There are many interpretations and definitions of the body's "core". Some consider the core to be made up of four muscles: rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and transverse abdominis. This basic description is also simply called the abdominal wall, or commonly referred to as "abs". Many think the abs are six individual muscles, hence the common term "six pack abs". However, the main abdominal muscle in the middle of the body, the rectus abdominis, is actually one long, flat muscle that extends from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the pelvis. Intertwined through the front portion of the muscle are tendons that extend from other muscles.

The tendons provide inscriptions that appear to divide the rectus abdominis up into six parts. These tendon extensions represent the fact that a number of other muscles play into the "core," not just the abs. Therefore, many experts provide a more robust description of the "core" (which I agree with) that also includes the pelvic floor, intricate muscles that stabilize the spine (e.g., erector spinae), as well as global muscles such as the the large muscle in the back called the latissimus dorsi and muscle of the upper legs and buttocks.

No matter what interpretation you may choose, the "core" is the most important portion of the body. Strengthen it and you will have better posture and will be less likely to experience back pain or injury.

In this article, I have provided a list of ten abdominal wall/core exercises that can easily be performed in the privacy of your home. I have provided a detailed description of each exercise. I have also provided YouTube videos showing you demonstrations of the correct technique. Please note, I had no input on the creation of these videos as they were made by someone else.

Abdominal Wall

Source

Basic Crunch

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface like a yoga mat. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Your hands can be placed behind your head, crossed over your chest, or beside your body with your arms extended. Most people prefer putting their hands behind the head to keep the neck muscles from getting fatigued. If you do this, be sure to keep your elbows out to the sides and do not pull your head with your hands. Keep your head up and do not round your neck.

  2. Contract your abdominals and curl your trunk up and forward to lift your head, neck, and upper back off the floor. Breathe out as you do this. Keep a natural position in your lower spine and make sure your lower back remains on the floor. Pause for a second or two at the top and try to tighten your abdominal muscles even more.

  3. Breathe in and slowly lower back down toward the starting position. When you reach the bottom, keep your head, neck, and upper back from resting on the floor. This will make sure your abdominal muscles are continually contracted.

  4. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions has been achieved.

Basic Crunch Demonstration

Crunch With a Twist

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface like a yoga mat. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Your hands can be placed behind your head, crossed over your chest, or beside your body with your arms extended. Most people prefer putting their hands behind the head to keep the neck muscles from getting fatigued. If you do this, be sure to keep your elbows out to the sides and do not pull your head with your hands. Keep your head up and do not round your neck.

  2. Contract your abdominals and curl your trunk up and rotate your upper body toward one side making an attempt to bring your shoulder towards your opposite knee. Breathe out as you do this. Keep a natural position in your lower spine and make sure your lower back remains on the floor. Pause for a second or two at the top and try to tighten your abdominal muscles even more.

  3. Breathe in and slowly lower back down toward the starting position. When you reach the bottom, keep your head, neck, and upper back from resting on the floor. This will make sure your abdominal muscles are continually contracted.

  4. Repeat to the opposite side. That’s one rep.

  5. Continue alternating sides until the desired number of repetitions has been achieved.

Crunch With a Twist Demonstration

Bicycle Crunch

  1. Lie flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and point your elbows outward. Do not pull the head up during this exercise. Bend your knees and hips at 90-degree angles and lift your feet in the air. Lift your shoulders off the ground and curl your trunk up and forward position. This will be the starting position.

  2. Do a cycling motion with your legs by extending your left leg and bring your right knee in. At the same time, rotate your trunk and bring your left elbow close to your right knee.

  3. Go back to the starting position.

  4. Do the cycling motion on the opposite side by extending your right leg and bring in your left knee. Rotate your trunk to bring your right elbow to your left knee.

  5. Go back to the starting position to complete the repetition.

  6. Continue this cycling motion until the desired repetitions have been achieved.

Bicycle Demonstration

Russian Twist

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your feet under something that will not move, like underneath the bottom edge of a couch. Or, have someone hold your feet in place. As your core gets stronger, you will not need your feet secured. Lean your upper body back to form a vertical line with the floor. Keep a natural position in your spine. Fully extend your arms in front of you perpendicular to your upper body. Hold your hands together. This is the starting position.

  2. Twist your trunk to one side until your arms are at or near parallel to the floor. Avoid any movement in your shoulders or arms, All the twisting should occur at the core. The bottom position of your arms should be achieved by the movement of only your trunk. This means as you twist your head neck and shoulder should naturally rotate with the rest of the body. Breathe in as you do this and hold this position for a second or two.

  3. Exhale and rotate back to the starting position.

  4. Following a brief pause, complete steps 1 to 3 on the opposite side. This is one repetition.

  5. Continue the alternating sides until you reach the targeted number of repetitions.

Russian Twist Demonstration

Supine Toe Touches/Reach

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface. Extend your arms and legs into the air and perpendicular to the floor. Your feet should be together and hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your head up but do not round your neck.

  2. Contract your abdominals and try to touch your toes with your hands by curling your trunk up and forward. Your head, neck, and upper back should lift off of the floor. Breathe out as you do this. Keep a natural position in your lower spine and make sure your lower back remains on the floor. Your body should form a “V” shape. Pause for a second or two at the top and try to tighten your abdominal muscles even more.

  3. Breathe in and slowly lower back down toward the starting position. When you reach the bottom, keep your head, neck, and upper back slightly off of the floor. This will make sure your abdominal muscles are continually contracted.

  4. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions has been achieved.

Supine Toe Touches Demonstration

Prone Plank Exercise

  1. Get into a pushup position on the floor or a mat and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders and your forearms and hands should be flat on the floor. Your upper body weight should be distributed on your forearms. Your lower body should be supported by the balls of your feet, with your heels pointed toward the ceiling. Your body should form a straight line from your neck to your ankles. It is very important to not let your lower back to sag or shot upward. Contract your abdominal muscles, as if you are about to be punched in the stomach, and hold it.

  2. Hold the position for an extended period of time, such as 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Prone Planks Demonstration

Side Bridge Exercise

  1. Lie on one side of your body with your knees straight. Rest your upper body up on your elbow and forearm with the elbow directly under your shoulder. The other arm should be bent about 90 degrees with the hand on your side. Your hips and knees should be straight. The feet should be pointed forward or staggered for better support. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your neck to your ankles. It is very important to not let your lower back to sag. Rotate your upper body, torso, and hips forward just slightly, but not too much. Contract your abdominal muscles, as if you are about to be punched in the stomach, and hold it.

  2. Hold the position for an extended period of time, such as 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Side Bridge Demonstration

Abdominal Hip Raises (AKA Reverse Crunch)

  1. Lie down in a supine position on the floor. Your arms should be extended to the side of your torso with the palms flat on the floor. Keep your arms in this position for the entire exercise. With a slight bend in your knees, move your legs up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Your feet and knees should be together. This is the starting position.

  2. Inhale, contract your abs and curl the hips and lower back off the floor as your pelvis moves towards the ceiling. Keeping the slight bend in your knees. Your head, shoulders, and upper back should remain on the floor or mat.

  3. Following a brief pause, move your hips back to the starting position while exhaling.

  4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Reverse Crunch Demonstration

Pilates 100

  1. Lie on your back with your legs in a 90-degree position with your knees above your hips and calves parallel to the floor. Contract your abdominals and curl your trunk up and forward to lift your head, neck, and upper back off the floor. Keep a natural position in your lower spine and make sure your lower back remains on the floor. Reach your arms toward your feet and hold your hands slightly above the floor. This position should be maintained throughout the exercise.

  2. Pump your arms up and down using a small range of motion. Keep your elbows straight as you do this. Inhale for five arm pumps and exhale for five pumps. After repeating this breathing pattern for 10 times and doing 100 “arm pumps” the exercise is complete. Therefore, the exercise should not be performed for a given number of repetitions that may be suggested in the “core” exercise plan.

Pilates 100 Demonstration

Pilates Roll-Up

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs fully extended (while on the floor) and arms held straight above your head.

  2. Bring your arms forward with your hands directed toward your feet. Tilt your chin down. Slowly curl your spine forward by lifting your upper body off of the floor. Reach your hands toward your toes and leading with the crown of your head. Exhale during this portion of the move. Stop when your upper body is perpendicular to the floor and you are in a seated position.

  3. Inhale and gradually reverse the movement by rolling your upper body back toward the starting position. During this portion of the movement, imagine slowly placing each vertebra of your spine on the ground one at a time beginning with the lower back.

  4. Repeat this process until the desired number of repetitions has been achieved.

Note: If this exercise is too difficult to perform or excessive momentum of the upper body is utilized, place a rolled up hand towel underneath the lower back.

Pilates Roll-Up Demonstration

Effective 5-Minute Abs Workout

You can get a great abs workout in as little as 5 minutes. To do this, grab a stopwatch and pick five ab exercises. For each exercise, do as many repetitions as possible in 1 minute. After a minute is up, move on to the next exercise without resting.

If you do not want to use a stopwatch, no problem. It takes about 4-5 seconds to complete one repetition in good form. So, you can perform 20-25 repetitions per exercise. If the exercise is isometric, like the prone plank, then count to 60 in your head. Once you complete the number of repetitions, move on to the next exercise without resting.

Below, I've provided three example ab workouts. For best results, perform these workouts at least 3 days per week, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Five-Minute Abs Workout #1

Exercise
Repetitions or Seconds
Basic Crunch
25 reps
Prone Planks
60 seconds
Bicycle Exercise
12 reps to each side (24 total)
Side Bridge to the left
60 seconds
Side Bridge to the Right
60 seconds
Remember, try not to rest between each exercise

Five-Minute Abs Workout #2

Exercise
Repetitions or Seconds
Pilates 100
100 count
Reverse Crunch
25 reps
Crunch with a Twist
12 reps on each side (24 total)
Supiine Toe Touches
25 reps
Prone Planks
60 seconds

Five-Minute Abs Workout #3

Exercise
Repetitions or Seconds
Pilates Roll-Up
15 reps
Supine Toe Touches
25 reps
Side Bridges to the Right
60 Seconds
Side Bridges to the Left
60 Seconds
Russian Twist
10 reps per side (20 total)

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    © 2018 Mike Esco

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