My ab routine has varied a lot over time but my most recent workout targets both your upper and lower core, as well as your obliques. If you are looking to tone up your abs but have a limited amount of time to dedicate each day, then this routine is perfect. It takes 15 minutes and is suitable for completing both at home and at the gym.
Weighted Leg Raises-
Start in a plank position with your arms directly above your head. I usually use a weight of around 4kg-6kg, but you will still feel your abs burning without one. You then need to lift up and bring your arms to meet your feet, then lower yourself back down without your feet touching the floor. This move targets both your upper and lower core due to the leg movement, so if you’re a beginner then 2 sets of 5 reps with a weight and 3 sets of 5 reps without a weight is a good start.
Similar to the leg raises, but you start this exercise with your feet planted firmly on the floor. After raising your arms above your head you then need to lift up as far as you can towards your knees, ensuring you keep your arms in the air the whole time. This move effectively targets your upper core and your obliques. Reps wise, some people find this exercise more effective than others so, as a minimum, try 3 sets of 5 then increase sets until you can feel your upper core tighten.
If you haven’t got a weight available at home then any heavy object you can hold is suitable for this exercise. Once you have crossed and balanced your legs off the ground, and sat at a comfortable 45 degree angle, slowly move the weight from side to side. This targets both your lower and upper core, but is more effective for your oblique muscles. As a beginner try 2 sets of 6 (each side) with a heavy weight and then increase the reps as the exercise becomes easier.
Side to Side Heel Touches-
This exercise is insanely good for targeting your lower core and obliques. With your shoulders off the ground reach to the side and touch your right hand with your right leg, and vice versa, for 3 sets of 15 touches per side. The key to getting the most out of this exercise is the pace, you should aim to complete the 15 touches in 20 seconds in order to see the most definition.
Forward Heel Touches-
Similar to the side to side heel touches, apart from you start in a crunch position. You need to pull yourself forwards using your abs, touch both your heels consecutively then lower yourself back down. Again, the key to this exercise is pace but only because if you lose the momentum of pulling yourself up then the exercise becomes far more difficult. 2 sets of 10 is a good place to start then increase your reps by 1 or 2 each time.
Ab Wheels are not only great for your upper core and obliques but also for your lower back and your shoulders. You should start off with your knees on the floor and your arms out-stretched on the handles of the wheel. Then slowly push your weight against the wheel for as far as you can go then bring yourself back in. This is one of the more difficult exercises where, even now, I can still only manage 2 sets of 10, so for a complete beginner try 1 set of 6 then increase as you feel yourself becoming stronger. You can buy ab wheels off Ebay / Amazon or in the likes of Tesco.
Plank to Raised Plank-
Personally, I find that just doing the plank doesn’t really affect by abs much and that the variation brings a lot more definition. Start in a normal plank position then use one arm to bring yourself up to a vertical arm position, then bring the other arm up so you’re in a press up position. Continue with this move for 15 seconds if you’re a complete beginner and 30 seconds if you’re used to completing the plank. Try to keep up a decent pace and ensure that your back is completely horizontal the whole time.