Sometimes life gets hectic. And when everything starts to pile up, it’s often your workout time that gets kicked from the ‘to do’ list.
But just because you don’t have time to hit the gym, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a super-effective and quick workout during your lunch break.
Here’s a list of killer ab workouts for women — all you need is a mat and some all-star endurance!
Ab workout #1: Squat to Knee Drive
Believe it or not, squats are absolutely essential for a tight core and strong abs, which makes them one of the best ab workouts that women can do.
Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple muscle groups at the same time, which is ideal when you are short on time and efficiency is critical. Plus, we’re supercharging this squat with a knee drive to increase heart rate and engage even more of the lower abs. This is a mega fat-burner, perfect for shaping your waist, hips and tummy.
To complete this exercise:
- Begin with feet at shoulder distance apart, toes either forward or slightly rotated out. (Either way, make sure that as you squat your knees track directly over your toes.)
- Keeping hands in front of your chest as a counterweight, sit back squeezing your butt and keep your weight in your heels.
- As you drive up from the squat, again powering through the glutes by maintaining that squeeze, drive one knee up to your chest.
- That is one rep. Complete 30 reps total, alternating legs each time.
Ab workout #2: Mountain Climbers
Whether we like them or not, planks really are one of the most effective ab workouts for women — thanks to their turbo-charged ability to sculpt your midsection. Amp your plank up with ‘mountain climbers’ for an exercise that strengthens the entire core, including shoulders, back, glutes, and abs.
To do a mountain climber workout:
- Start in a plank position with shoulders stacked directly over your wrists. Your back should be completely flat from the shoulders to the tailbone — think that somebody should be able to place a drink on your back, without it spilling.
- Squeeze your butt, push back through your heels, and tuck your navel up and away from the floor. Got all that?
- Now start running, driving your knees in toward your chest as far and as fast as you can while maintaining that flat back. (Be cautious of your butt lifting up and shoulders moving out of alignment over the wrists — this is not correct form!)
- Try maintaining mountain climbers for 20 seconds at a steady pace, then rest for 20 seconds. Four rounds of this should leave you feeling glistening and powerful!
Ab workout #3: Wall Sit With a Leg Lift
Whilst at face-value, this exercise looks like, well… sitting, it’s actually a powerhouse ab workout for women. The epic ‘wall sit’ strengthens the lower body, including quads, hamstrings, hips, and calves, and, with this fun variation, you can rev up the lower ab impact too.
Form is everything with this one, so make sure you’re up to speed:
- Start by leaning back against the wall with feet roughly shoulder distance apart. Engage your core by drawing your navel in toward your spine as you walk your feet forward and lower your back down the wall. Stop when your knees and hips form right angles, with knees stacked over your ankles and hips at the same level as your knees. (This is important for proper leg engagement.)
- Once you’ve settled into your wall sit, get ready for the fun, ab-blasting part. Maintaining your full back pressed against the wall and navel tucked, slowly lift and extend one leg in front of you as you exhale, pushing through the heel to increase hamstring engagement.
- Inhale as you return your leg to your starting position, and repeat on your second side.
- Keep repeating (remembering that quality is more important than quantity!) for a full minute. Take a break and shake it out, and then repeat two more times.
And if the full lift is too intense, you can modify by marching the legs instead.
Ab workout #4: Supine Single-Leg Retraction
Now that you’ve made it through the more fat-burning exercises, you can focus on the fine toning. This exercise targets the transverse abdominis, the group of muscles responsible for stabilising the core, including the lower abs, obliques and lower back.
If you want super tight and toned abs, this is the exercise to master.
- Start by lying down on your back and drawing both knees in toward your chest. From here, you have a few different options, depending on your level.
- If you are a beginner, bring your hands under your tailbone, creating a pocket for your lower back to tuck into — it’s very important that the hands are under the tailbone, not the lower back, as we want the lower back to be pressing down, not lifting up.
- For intermediate exercisers, keep your hands by your sides, palms rotated upward to relax your shoulders.
- For the advanced, bring your hands to the back of your neck, engaging your upper abs and lifting head, neck, and shoulders off the mat, keeping elbows wide.
- Once you’ve found your starting position, extend both legs long at a 45-60 degree angle (lower if you’re more advanced). Now tuck your navel in, creating a hollow in your lower belly, and slowly draw one knee in toward your chest. Pause for a second before extending it again, completing one rep.
- Repeat on the second side. Complete a total of 20 reps, and you’ll see why this is such a great ab workout!
Ab workout #5: Forearm Plank
This is the perfect finisher to cool things down, while still targeting the abs.
- Lie down on your stomach with elbows underneath shoulders.
- Tuck your toes under and lift up into a plank position, squeezing your butt, drawing navel up, and pushing back through your heels.
- Remember: you should feel your abs, not your lower back and/or shoulders straining to hold all the weight.
- Hold here for 30 seconds to a minute and then gently lower back down.
Don’t forget to cool down…
Once you’ve completed your super-quick ab workout, cool things off a couple of great core stretches.
From a quadruped position, inhale as you hollow your lower back and lift chest and exhale as you draw lower back upward and curl the back. Once you’ve completed as many as you’d like, sit back onto your heels, arms reaching long in front and finish in a child’s pose.
And yep: all of these exercises can be done in the park, or in your office, during your lunch break, making these ab workouts ideal for women with busy lifestyles, just like you!