It’s said that abs are revealed in the kitchen and while that’s true, we think you should still strengthen them with your workouts too. That’s because the five major muscle groups that make up your core – the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, obliques, multifidus and erector spinae – are vital for supporting your spine, protecting your organs, providing balance and helping you twist, turn, run and jump.
“The core muscles are probably crucial to every PB you’ve ever set in the weights room or on the road too,” says Melissa Kendter, global trainer of women’s workout app EvolveYou, who has devised this five-move circuit to target your stomach muscles from every angle.
“The stronger your core, the more you’re able to lift, the faster you can run, and the better your posture will be helping to reduce everyday aches and pains,” she adds. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment to keep them in great working order.
This bodyweight workout can be done on its own as a core circuit, or tagged at the end of a longer session as a functional finisher for all-over gains.
How To Do This Bodyweight Workout For Women
If starting fresh, spend a few minutes loosening up with some warm-up exercises to get your blood pumping and muscles warm. Once ready, complete three rounds of this five-move circuit, resting for just 60 seconds between rounds.
Too easy? Increase the reps or number of rounds. Too much? Dial the number of reps back or rest for 15-30 seconds between moves.
“This circuit is suitable for all levels,” says Kendter. “Once you find it manageable, increase the reps or rounds to keep progressing and help you chase down more personal bests.”
1 Side plank dip
Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec
Lie on your side with your weight supported by your forearm and with your feet either stacked one on top of the other or with the foot of the top leg in front. Engage your core to raise your hips off the floor so they are in line with your feet and shoulders. From this starting position, lower your hips to gently tap the floor, then drive them high and squeeze your obliques (side abs) hard. Complete all the reps on one side, then switch.
2 Reverse mountain climber
Reps 25 each side Rest 0sec
Start at the top of a press-up position with your shoulders, hips and ankles forming a straight line. Keeping your shoulders still, bring one knee towards the elbow on the opposite arm, squeezing your abs hard. Return your foot to the start and repeat on the other side until all reps are complete.
3 Lying heel drop
Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor to engage your deep abdominal muscles. Maintaining tension in these muscles throughout, raise your feet off the floor into table-top position, with a 90° bend at your hips and at your knees. Lower one leg slowly, tapping the floor with your heel then return to the start. Alternate sides with each rep.
Reps 10 Rest 0sec
Lie face down with your legs straight and arms extended in front of you. Raise both arms and legs until they are 10-15cm off the floor, forming a shallow bowl shape with your body. Hold this position for one to two seconds, then lower back to the starting position. You should feel your lower back, glutes and hamstrings working in the hold position.
5 Good morning to oblique crunch
Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec
Stand with your hands by your ears and elbows out wide. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forwards at your hips until your torso is just above parallel to the floor – you should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your neck in a neutral position as you lower. Drive your hips forwards to return to standing and bring one knee up towards your elbow on the same side, squeezing your oblique muscles. Lower and repeat on the other side. Alternate sides with each rep. Rest for 60 seconds, then move on to the next round.
More Workouts For Women
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Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.