Everyone wants well defined, strong abs, and for good reason.
A well-defined set of abs is not only a universal sign of hard work and dedication to training, but they look good. Even better, a strong set of abs helps to prevent injury, such as low-back strain and hernias, and enhance athletic performance.
How Much Time Does It Really Take?
The issue is that many of us believe that we have to dedicate an entire training session to our abs, which in some cases may take 20 to 40 minutes. Luckily, this is not the case.
In fact, how often you train, or training frequency, is a key factor when it comes to strengthening and defining muscles, including your abs.
And who doesn’t enjoy experiencing quality results in less time?
Not only that, but for many of us, setting aside 20 to 40 minutes one to two times per week may be difficult to pull off.
Instead, try a five-minute ab workout consisting of the exercises below performed in order. The volume is not that high (after all, it's only five minutes), which allows you to complete the session more frequently without the worry of over-training. You can complete this workout four to seven times per week when you have five minutes to spare.
The exercises are designed to target all of the major areas of the abs to help them function better. This will help chisel and strengthen your midsection.
1. High-Tension Plank
Unlike your standard plank where you just hang out for a while, use this high-tension variation for greater muscular stimulation.
HOW TO DO IT: From a plank position on your forearms, keep your abs engaged as if you were to pull your zipper up towards your ribcage, but not so much that your low back rounds. Keep the upper back flat and think about staying long from your heels to the top of your head.
Next, drive your elbows toward you toes without allowing your upper back to round or the hips to sag. Squeeze your abs hard for 10 seconds. Relax for five seconds and repeat this four times.
2. Plank Row
The plank row not only challenges your ability to keep your hips from sagging and your body straight, but now you will challenge your ability to control rotation.
The goal of the exercise, and the way to fire up the abs the most, is to focus on not allowing the hips to rotate or sag, or to feel your weight shift from side to side. Imagine a cup of coffee on the low back… don’t let it spill!
HOW TO DO IT: From a push-up position, spread the feet out so that they are slightly wider than hip width apart. Keep your abs engaged by pulling your zipper up towards your ribcage and maintain a flat upper back.
Next, lift one hand and perform a rowing motion bringing your elbow back toward the side of your body stopping when your hand is in line with your chest. Put that hand back down and repeat with the other hand, moving in a slow controlled manner.
Do this for 25 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat one more time.
3. Spiderman Push-Up
This move controls rotation of the hips when the legs are moving, further strengthening the abs from all planes of motion.
HOW TO DO IT: From a push-up position, keep the abs engaged and the upper back flat. Do not allow the hips to sag or rotate as you remove one foot and bring the leg up and out to the side of your body as you lower your chest to the ground.
Stop when your knee is at hip level (still out to the side), and the knee is bent at 90 degrees. Bring your foot back to the starting position as you raise your chest and straighten your arms. Repeat on the other side.
Do this for 25 seconds, slowly and with control — think again about not spilling the coffee off of the lower back — rest for 10. Repeat once more.
4. Side Plank Crunch
Any side plank variation helps to emphasize the lateral, or side, musculature and stability of your abs to a great extent. This variation of the side plank will help take the intensity up a notch.
HOW TO DO IT: From a side plank position on your forearm with your top leg foot just in front of the bottom leg foot, keep your abs tight. Bridge your hips off the ground so there is a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
Do not allow the hips to sag as you slowly bring the knee of the top leg toward your elbow. After a quick pause, bring your foot back to the starting position. Go for 25 seconds on one side before taking a 10 second break while switching to the other side plank position.
If lifting the bottom side leg is too difficult, just repeat the lift with the top leg only.
5. Bear Crawl
A classic football exercise, the bear crawl is an amazing ab exercise when done properly. Instead of covering as much ground as possible while you allow your hips to swivel side to side uncontrollably, perform this version slowly and with control.
HOW TO DO IT: Start on all fours so that the knees are beneath the hips, the hands are beneath the shoulders and the toes are on the ground. Push into the ground and raise knees off the ground a few inches.
Do not allow the hips to swivel or raise to the ceiling while taking very small steps moving the opposite hand and opposite leg at the same time. Crawl for 25 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat one more time.
If you want more of a challenge, try crawling backward on the second set of 25 seconds.