Fitness

An 8-Minute Abs Workout You Can Do in Your Living Room

Your core’s primary job is to protect your spine, so it’s extra important to train those muscles. What better way to accomplish that than with this quick 8-minute abs workout?

Your core is working all day long, whether you know it or not. It helps in everyday tasks like cleaning, carrying something up the stairs, and even just walking. But now that many of us may be spending less time walking around and more time sitting in makeshift home offices or on the couch, our spines might not be getting the support we need.

“Having a stronger core can alleviate a lot of lower back pain that occurs when our spine isn’t protected,” Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. “When we’re slouching over or sitting on the couch a little too long, our spine starts to feel that pressure—and there’s nothing there to protect it and keep it upright.”

But strong core muscles can protect your spine. These muscles include your transverse abdominis (the deep muscles on the front and side of your abdomen), internal and external obliques (the sides of your abdomen), and rectus abdominis (running vertically on the front of your abdomen).

Luckily, there are plenty of exercises you can do to strengthen your core muscles, even if you’re not doing as much “normal” movement. And you don’t have to spend a ton of time working them, either. By incorporating short core workouts into your training schedule, you can really challenge those muscles, which can also help improve your posture and reduce back pain.

Mixing stability and movement-based exercises is the most functional way to do a core workout, because it replicates day-to-day movement, says Jamison. Your core is constantly working, whether it’s isometrically (without movement) or in dynamic motion. Things like picking your groceries up and putting them in the car would be a dynamic motion that requires core strength, while carrying heavy items requires core stability.

For this circuit-style workout created by Jamison, you’ll use exercises that emulate the spine’s four ranges of motion: spinal flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and trunk rotation. The 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off approach gives you optimal rest so you can continue to work hard for those 40 seconds.

These short, quick core workouts are most effective when paired with cardio or strength training, explains Jamison, when your heart rate is already elevated and your body is warmed up. So tack this on to the end of another workout, or pencil it in after a brisk walk.

Ready to crush it? Here’s what you need for this 8-minute abs workout that you can do right in your living room.

The Workout

What you’ll need: An exercise mat for extra cushioning. If you want an extra challenge, add a dumbbell to the Russian twist.

The Exercises

Directions:

  • Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.

  • Complete two rounds total.

Demoing the moves below are Cookie Janee (GIF 1), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor and trainer in New York City; and Amanda Wheeler (GIFs 3 and 4), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Formation Strength.

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