An amazing combo of core-strengthening moves and cardio, this circuit is designed to target not only your abs and obliques, but also the muscles in your back, pelvic floor and even your shoulders.
Truth be told, it’s better than doing hundreds of crunches. If you’re training for a sport or just for everyday life, you don’t usually use any one muscle in isolation. This correlates closer to actual, functional movements. That’s a good thing, while crunches certainly strengthen your abs, the body benefits more by torching more calories, for example—from movements that recruit more than one muscle group.
It’s important to remember that high-intensity interval training isn’t meant to be a daily workout, it’s a great tool to have in your exercise plan, particularly on days when all you have is a few minutes to spare.
How to use this workout chart: Perform each move below for 30 seconds, resting 5 to 10 seconds in between. With this circuit, the goal is to work at the highest possible intensity for as many reps as you can without sacrificing form. Expect to perform from 15 to 20 reps, though remember that quality is always above quantity. So don’t stress if your rep count is on the lower end the first couple of times you try this. If time allows, you can repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
- Shift all weight onto the right leg with the left knee lifted and bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms in front of you as if you’re climbing a ladder.
- Extend your left arm overhead as you push off the right foot to explosively lift your right knee until it is level with hips.
- Pull your hand down as you lower the right leg and shift your weight to the right side to repeat on your left side.
- Continue alternating legs and arms as quickly as you can—this should feel as intense as High Knees.
2. Knee-In Crunch
- Lie face up with fingertips behind your ears and legs extended.
- Lift your legs until your feet are about six inches off the ground.
- Engage your core and lift the shoulder blades off the floor like a crunch while also pulling knees in towards your chest. Careful not to pull on your neck to crunch; use abs to lift.
- Reverse the movement to return to starting position.
3. Glute Bridge
- Lie face up with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Place your arms on the floor by your sides, palms facing down.
- Keep your head and shoulders firmly planted on the ground as you press through the feet, squeezing glutes to lift hips off the floor.
- This exercise is not only great for hip stabilisation and boosting ab strength, it also works your glutes.
4. Bicycle Crunch
- Lie face up with your fingertips behind your ears, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, both feet off the ground.
- Lift your head and shoulders off the mat. Bring the right elbow to the left knee as you extend your right leg out straight.
- Quickly reverse the movement to repeat on the other side bringing your left elbow to your right knee.
- Continue to alternate.
5. High Knees
- Stand tall with feet hip width.
- Engage your core and use lower abs to lift and lower one knee at a time as if running in place.
- Bring the knees to the same height as hips, thighs parallel to the floor, try not to lean back.
- Stay on the balls of your feet and alternate legs as fast as possible.
6. Reverse Crunch
- Lie face up with your arms at your sides.
- Bend the knees so that your hips and knees form 90-degree angles, core engaged.
- Activate your lower abs to lift your hips off the ground, bringing the knees towards your chest.
- Lower back to starting position as slowly as possible to keep lower abdominals engaged.
7. Mountain Climber
- Start in a high plank position, core tight, hands directly under shoulders.
- Keep the core engaged to stabilise your hips as you drive the right knee to the chest.
- Return that leg to the starting position and then repeat with the left knee.
- Continue alternating legs to pump knees as fast as possible.
8. Windshield Wiper
- Lie face up with hands straight out to sides (so the body forms a T) and legs extended.
- Raise both legs towards the ceiling until they’re perpendicular to the floor.
- Without lifting your head or shoulders off the mat, lower both legs to the right, as close to the ground as you can get without losing form.
- Reverse the movement to lower both legs to the left.
- Continue to alternate like, windshield wipers.
9. Push Jacks
- Stand with both feet together, elbows bent and palms just above your shoulders facing up.
- Quickly jump your legs out as you pump your arms up towards the ceiling.
- Quickly reverse the movement and repeat as fast as you can.
- This move gets both your abs and shoulders in on the action.
- Start in high plank position with hands directly under the shoulders.
- Engage your core and lift your hips into the air as you jump straight legs forward, your body should look like an upside-down V.
- Keep a slight bend in the knees if you don’t have the flexibility.
- Jump back to starting position.
- Lie face up with your arms next to sides.
- Engage your core and sit up while raising the right hand and left leg simultaneously.
- Touch your right fingertips to your left toes.
- Return to the starting position and repeat using the opposite hand and leg.
12. Hollow Body Hold
- Finish strong with an isometric hold.
- Lie face up with arms by your sides and legs extended straight.
- Engage abs.
- Lift your shoulder blades and straightened legs off the floor, keeping lower back pressed into the mat throughout the entire exercise (the closer your legs are to the floor, the more challenging this is).
- Hold this posture for the full 30 seconds.