Try This 30-Minute Abs Workout to Increase Your Core Strength 

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The importance of a strong core goes beyond aesthetics; the abdominal muscles are some of the body’s heaviest lifters. These mid-section muscles help you perform a variety of activities, including reaching, twisting, bending, balancing, and more. Keeping your core strong is an excellent goal for everyday well-being.

Use this simple 30-minute routine to strengthen your core.

How to Engage Your Core

Proper use of your core is vital to the success of any ab workout. After all, your muscles won’t get strengthened unless you activate them. Engaging your core can help prevent injury to your lower back, as well as create better posture.

Engaging your core means contracting the muscles in your middle, including your upper, abs (AKA rectus abdominis), sides (AKA obliques), and lower belly (AKA transversus abdominis). Some fitness instructors describe the motion of engagement as pulling your belly button in toward your spine, or preparing to brace against a punch to the gut. Whatever analogy you use, focus on keeping your entire mid-section tight.

30-Minute Ab Workout

When it comes to abs, there’s no need to complicate things. Simple exercises that engage the upper, lower, and oblique portions of your middle are all it takes to build strength. This workout walks you through three rounds of eight 1-minute exercises. After each exercise, you’ll rest for 10 seconds, and after each round, you’ll rest for 1 minute.

30-Minute Core Workout

  • Mountain Climbers (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Elbow Plank with Toe Taps (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Right Side Plank (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Left Side Plank (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Lower Ab Crunches (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Bicycle Crunches (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • Russian Twists (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • High Boat to Low Boat (60 seconds + 10 seconds of rest)
  • 1 minute of rest
  • Repeat twice

Mountain Climbers

To "climb the mountain," get into a plank position with hands flat on the ground and arms extended below you. With control, bring one knee in toward your chest, then return to plank position. Repeat with the other knee and alternate sides for 1 minute.

Elbow Plank with Toe Taps

Remain in plank position, but lower down onto your elbows, keeping your back, bottom, and legs in as straight a line as possible. Step your right foot out to tap the floor to your right, then return to plank. Repeat with your left foot and alternate sides for 1 minute.

Right Side Plank

From elbow plank, roll onto your right elbow, allowing it to support your body. Stack your left leg on top of your right, align your head with your spine, and lift your left arm into the air. Hold for 1 minute (or, for additional challenge, add hip dips, lowering and raising your hips to the ground).

See our side plank how-to here.

Left Side Plank

Same thing, different side! Support your body with your left elbow, aligning your head with your spine and resting right leg on top of left. Raise your right hand into the air and hold for 1 minute, adding hip dips if desired.

Lower Ab Crunches

Lying with your back flat to the ground, lift your legs straight into the air. Slowly lower your legs, keeping them zipped together, until they hover a few inches above the ground. Raise them slowly back up and repeat for 1 minute.

Bicycle Crunches

Lie with your back flat to the ground and your hands behind your head. Gently raise your head and shoulders off the ground, bring your right knee toward your left armpit, and turn your left elbow toward your right knee in a bicycling motion. Repeat on the other side and alternate for 1 minute.

Perfect your bicycle crunch form with our step-by-step guide.

Russian Twists

Return to a seated position. Bend your knees upward and raise your feet to hover above the ground. Position your upper body at about a 45-degree angle and rotate your torso to the right, touching the ground on your right side. Return to center and repeat on the left side, alternating for 1 minute.

High Boat to Low Boat

Sit, leaning back at a 45-degree angle, with knees bent upward and feet hovering just above the ground or straight out from the knees. Extend your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a moment, engaging the abs. Then, with control, lie back, straightening your legs in front of you, with feet and head hovering over the ground. Return to the original “high” boat position and repeat for 1 minute.

A Word From Verywell

If this half-hour workout seems too daunting, try starting out with just one round of eight exercises and gradually work your way up. And if you’re looking to achieve specific goals for your mid-section, consider working with a personal trainer for more targeted exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it OK to do ab workouts daily?

    No matter how much you may want abs of steel, every part of the body requires rest. It’s best to alternate your ab workouts with other forms of exercise throughout the week.

  • Are abs easy to develop?

    Abdominal muscles are not necessarily difficult to develop, but it’s notoriously difficult to get them to show. This is because a layer of fat typically overlays these muscles. A rippling 6-pack can take lots of time and discipline to achieve—but even if you don’t attain chiseled abs, you can rest assured that working your core still builds strength and stability.

  • Does walking strengthen your core?

    Because walking uses the muscles in your trunk, it does add to a stronger core. You can take the ab-strengthening up a notch by consciously engaging your abdominal muscles as you stroll or walking on more difficult terrain, such as hills.

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.