Train your abs effectively and efficiently! This versatile workout can be done with just your bodyweight and should be incorporated into your training plan 2-3 times per week.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    General Fitness
  • Workout Type
    Single Muscle Group
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout15 minutes
  • Equipment Required
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

When people talk about being strong, the metric could be how much the person bench presses. If the topic is size, then it’s time to flex the biceps. When people think about being ripped or conditioned, the standard of measurement is how the abs look.

Related: Bench Press Calculator - Calculate Your 1 REP MAX (1RM)

If you’ve been a regular member of the M&S community, then you already know that nutrition is a big component in determining how the abs look. However, you also know that you have to train them. The abs are like any other muscle group. They need to be stimulated and challenged in order to improve.

For those of you that are new around here, you may need to know how to train the abs so you can develop that six-pack look. The good news is that we've got you covered. This workout will help you improve the way your core works and looks in just 15 minutes.

This 15-minute core conditioning program be done without weights or equipment, and you can do it anywhere you like. Find an open space, and bring this with you so you can learn and apply the workout that follows.

Related: How to Diet to Get Visible Abs 

Lean man and woman doing side planks outside

What Makes a Good Ab Workout?

An effective ab workout will focus on all the major sections as well as performance. This workout will have five exercises in total. The first is for the upper abs, which is responsible for helping you bend forward. Next will be a lower abs workout that promotes lifting the legs. We’ll follow that up with something for the obliques, which help you bend to the side and twist. 

Then, there’s stabilization and balance. This is often neglected in ab workouts, but not here. That’s why we’re including a plank as well. Last but not least, the goal for most athletes and fitness-minded people is to have a smaller waist. So, we’ll finish up with an old-school movement to help with that. All of these movements can be seen in the M&S Exercise Video Database. We’re going to add a couple of tips as well that should help you make the most out of the quarter-hour you will commit to this.

Upper Abs: Sit-Up

There is a good chance that the sit-up was one of the first exercises you learned in grade school. It’s simple, but it still works. The crunch is considered a more popular choice because it’s supposed to isolate the upper abs more, but going all the way up will help with both looks and performance. 

The other criticism on sit-ups is that they will work the hip flexors because the feet are hooked. If you lift your toes up and use the anchor holding your feet for leverage, then yes, the hips are going to join the party. As long as you keep the feet flat, and concentrate on contracting your abs, then the hips won’t be nearly as active.

If you feel your bodyweight alone isn’t enough, or you really want to focus on strength, then hold a weight plate or weighted ball on your chest. If you’d rather use bodyweight only, then squeeze the abs for a couple of seconds longer and lower yourself back down very slowly.

Perform 15 reps of the first exercise before moving on to the next one. Fortunately, transitioning will be pretty simple.

Lower Abs: Alternate Straight Leg Lower

The basic lying leg raise is a classic way to train the lower abs. It works, but there is a better method that can also help promote balance. Going with one leg at a time makes the exercise a little more challenging. It can also help improve flexibility because you need to keep the non-working leg down while the other is moving.

There is a way to make this one more interesting. You can either perform all the reps for one leg before switching to the other, or you can alternate legs until you finish all the sets. Either way, 15 reps per leg is what you will do here.

If getting stronger matters to you, then put ankle weights on your legs. You can also stop short of touching the floor with the non-working leg in order to maintain tension in the core.

Obliques: Side Plank with Hip Dip and Standing Twist

The most neglected part of ab training is the obliques. This is because of the myth that if you train them, then your waist will get bigger. This isn’t the case. You actually should be training them so they will look better once you get leaner and can show those abs off.

Side crunches or twists would be easier, but you’re reading this to get better. So, let’s challenge ourselves. The side plank helps promote stability in an awkward position, which will transfer to other aspects of your fitness. Doing the hip dips are a great way to target the obliques because you have to contract them while maintaining that stability.

Go for 15 reps on both sides, and try to do them without losing balance. If you happen to, simply get back into your plank position and keep going. 

Once you finish the hip dips, do 15 standing twists in both directions immediately after. Do your best to keep the hips stationary while you turn the upper body.

Related: 5 Challenging Plank Variations (& Tips to Help You Master Them)

Stability: Plank to Hip Raise

The plank forces you to control your core and maintain balance, but some people know there is a shortcut to make it easier. They relax the core, which defeats the whole purpose. If you want to make the most out of a workout like this, you have to give it your all.

The plank with the hip raise added to it is a great alternative because it reminds you why you’re in that plank to begin with. Doing the hip raise will work the abs in a performance manner while being in the plank position helps you work on stability for both the abs and lower back. 

Get into the plank position for 15 seconds. Then, perform 15 hip raises. After the final hip raise, stay planked for 15 more seconds before moving on.

Control: Stomach Vacuum

There’s a reason that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and other superstars from the past speak out about the vacuum so often. It helps you improve the size of your waist, and you can use it to help control your breathing.

You can do this in one of two ways. You can either lie flat on your back or stand. Whichever way you choose, the goal is to suck in your stomach as if you want the belly button to touch your spine. You should forcefully breathe out when you do this as well. Hold this for five to ten seconds and relax. Repeat for five reps.

Ripped shirtless man doing ab crunches in the gym

Putting the Workout Together

The workout should be done in the form of a circuit. Not only will this challenge the abs even more, you’ll burn some calories on top of it. You can do it in the gym or at home, and you can do it anytime you have 15 free minutes. 

Perform at least two rounds of this workout. If you can, do three. Just don’t fly through the sets and neglect the quality of the reps. Perform this workout twice or three times a week. You’ll find that after a few weeks, you have a tighter and stronger midsection.

15-Minute Core Conditioning Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Sit Up 2-3 15 None
Alternate Straight Leg Lower 2-3 15 each None
Side Plank 2-3 15 each None
Plank to Hip Raise 2-3 15 each None
Stomach Vacuum 2-3 5 30 sec
Mandy Shepherd
Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2024 - 07:33

What day is best to incorporate this into your workout, upper or lower body?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:13

I made it so you could do it with either, Mandy. Feel free to put it in where you see fit.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2023 - 12:41

Why doesn't the link for side plank show this whole dip and twist thing?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 08/26/2023 - 21:31

They didn't have that exercise filmed, but they have been working on the Exercise guides recently. Hopefully they will add it.