If you find yourself doing the same old 2 or 3 ab exercises every time you workout, stop it right now! You’re bored and I know it! Fortunately, making your own ab workouts from home is easy. I actually think coming up with ab workouts is one of the easiest things to do from your home gym. Why? Because there are loads of exercises and routines you can do without equipment and with minimal floor space requirements. All you need is a little know-how.
With so many options ab and core exercises to choose from, why would you let yourself get bored? Out of habit? Laziness perhaps? I’m not picking on anyone here, I’ve been there myself. But starting today, we are going to switch things up. From now on you will get excited to work your core… you won’t be able to wait for ab day… you’ll be creating ab workouts in your sleep!
How To Create Your Own Ab Workouts From Home
We all remember the old school sit ups we used to do in PE class. We all hated them then, most of us probably still hate them. Sit ups have gotten a bad rap lately because of the possibility of tweaking your back or neck. But sit ups do work. They provide a great ab workout. Luckily, we have a lot of other tools in our exercise tool box these days. We don’t have to resort to sit ups anymore unless we want to.
There are a few key factors that we need check off our list to ensure we are creating solid ab (core) workouts. These include:
- Hitting every part of our core within each workout
- Not wasting time between exercises
- Not relying on fancy equipment
- Safe and pain free to perform
For me to consider a core workout a success, it must hit all 4 of these points. Let’s take a look at each one to make sure we are all on the same page.
Work The Entire Core
I know the title of this post refers to “ab workouts”, but here at The Home Gym by “abs” we mean core. And so should you. There is no reason for you to be only concentrating on your abdominal muscles. Especially if you want a lean, strong midsection. It’s important to work your entire core within each workout because it will keep you balance, it will reduce your chances of back pain, and it will make you more durable in the real world.
But what muscles make up the core? Glad you asked. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you:
- Abs- aka, rectus abdominis, this is the 6 pack muscle we all covet
- Obliques- aka, the internal and external obliques, these are the muscles on the sides of our trunk covering our ribs
- Deep abdominals- aka, transverse abdominis, this is a deeper ab muscle that goes horizontally across out abdomen. This muscle is very important for stabilizing our pelvis and back
- Spinal extensors- aka, erector spinae, these muscles run the length of our back and work to extend and stabilize our core throughout the day
There are others, but these 4 are the most important for our considerations. Our workouts will include exercises that hit all of these groups.
No Wasted Time
I’m not sure about you, but my workout time is pretty limited these days. I have to wake up early in the morning and exercise before the wife and kids get out of bed. On a perfect day I have an hour, but more days than not I’m looking at about 45 min to get my workouts in.
I make sure to take advantage of every minute I have. With regards to my core workouts, this means very little rest time. I’m rarely doing 3 sets of 15 and resting 60 sec between exercise. And then moving on to another exercise and doing the same. It’s not a bad way to lift weights, but it’s too inefficient for me.
I try to keep my ab workouts to about 5 min total. I’ll show you how I do it down below.
No Equipment Necessary
The good thing about ab workouts is that you really don’t need any equipment. There are enough core exercises to choose from without equipment that you don’t have to purchase anything if you don’t want to. That said, I do use some equipment because I like to augment my body weight exercises sometimes. Nothing fancy though, I like to use the ab wheel and Swiss ball the most.
Some ab machines are effective and worth investing in, but most of the stuff we see on tv or online is junk.
Safe To Perform
This is important for all of our workout routines. You have to be careful when working your abs and core because a lot of us have issues with our backs. Some of the exercises discussed here may not be suitable for you, and that’s ok. There are always ways to modify. A good rule to live by when exercising is that if it hurts, you shouldn’t be doing it.
When in doubt, ask your physician.
Ok, time to start creating some workouts. I mean it’s time for YOU to start creating some workouts. I’m going to lay some ground rules for each workout here. I’m also going to list some exercise examples for you to choose from. But it’s up to you to choose which exercises you want to incorporate and put it together. Sounds fun right? Sure it does.
Workout #1 – Ab Ladder
Rules: This is a ladder workout. You are going to choose 2 exercises and perform them back to back without resting. You are going to start out with 10 reps for each exercise and then drop to 9 reps of each exercise. And then 8. And continue working your way down until you finish with 1 rep of each exercise.
So it looks like this if my exercises are ‘A’ and ‘B’: Ax10, Bx10, Ax9, Bx9, Ax8, Bx8… Ax1, Bx1
Remember, rest as little as possible between sets. Time yourself and see how fast you can do it (and then beat that time next time)
Sit ups Bridges
Double leg lift Side plank hip raise (each side)
Ab wheel Superman
Swiss ball pike Bicycle crunch
One of my personal favorite combinations is the ab wheel and double leg lift. The ab wheel and Swiss ball pike is a tough combo. I would encourage you to try a second round with 2 different exercises to ensure you get a full core workout. Of course feel free to switch out any exercises for your favorites.
Workout #2 – Hit The Plank
Rules: This workout is all about planks. Choose 4 exercises. Each move will be performed for 30 sec. Move to the next position without resting. Set a timer for 5 min and keep going until the time runs out.
- Standard plank
- Right side plank
- Left side plank
- Isometric bridge
- Side plank with leg raise
- Plank jacks
- Plank with opposite arm/leg extension
- Side plan with twist
This workout is pretty straight forward, but effective. If you have shoulder issues, be warned: all of these planks can be tough on shoulders. This is a great way to work every core muscle in 5 minutes. If you are really hardcore, you could do planks with your feet elevated (or on a Swiss ball)…that would be tough.
Workout #3 – 50’s
Rules: This workout is all about high reps. Choose 2-4 exercises from the list and complete 50 total reps of each exercise as fast as possible, resting only when needed. Once you hit your 50 reps for one exercise, move on to the next.
- Squat press (with dumbbells)
- Kettle bell swing (or dumbbell swing)
- Sit ups
- Ab wheel
- Swiss ball pike
- Double leg lift
This workout is based on Crossfit style routines where you are trying to knock out a set number of reps as fast as possible. The effect is not only a great core workout, but a great cardio workout (and total body workout depending on your exercise choices). I use this method fairly often. I like to use squats presses, dumbbell swings, and double leg lifts.
Workout #4 – 5 min Crunch
Rules: This is a crunch only workout. Choose among the crunches listed below, perform 25 reps of each crunch before moving onto the next. Do as many exercises as you can fit in the 5 min limit.
Standard crunch Bicycle crunch
Reverse crunch Raised leg crunch
Oblique crunch (each side) Double crunch
Superman Alt arm/leg Superman
This is my go to core workout when I don’t feel like moving that much. I usually finish my workouts with 5 min or so of core work. If I had a really tough workout and don’t have much left in the tank, I tend to do this type of workout. I like to start with the standard crunches, move to reverse crunches, and then start on the obliques and twisting moves.
I just presented 4 different ways to create your own ab workouts from home. You can use the exercises I listed or switch them out for some of your favorites. I included some moves that do require equipment- the ab wheel, Swiss ball, and dumbbells. If you don’t have these pieces, simply choose different exercises.
Make sure you back and shoulders are safe to perform planks before attempting. I know from experience planks can be tough on the shoulders.
I know I didn’t include any pics or videos demonstrating these exercises. If you aren’t sure what anything is, just leave a comment and I’ll answer any questions as fast as I can.
Now it’s time to start creating your own awesome core workouts. Get creative, get results, and have fun.