I tried Rita Ora’s five-move abs workout to get her killer six-pack

Be warned: just watching her workout made my abs want to cry…

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Rita Ora performs at the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Stewart Park on May 26, 2019 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, Rita Ora is the official Queen of Core. Whether she’s performing live on stage, walking the red carpet, sitting on the judging panels for The Masked Singer UK and The Voice Australia, or moseying down the high street, you can pretty much guarantee the popstar will have her killer six-pack on display for the whole world to see.

And who can blame her? Because the simple fact of the matter is this: the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has worked damn hard for her abs. As any of her 16.1 million Instagram followers will tell you, Ora’s into her fitness big time, regularly revealing behind-the-scenes glimpses of her gruelling fitness regime on Stories and main feed.

Indeed, just watching her workouts makes me feel like I lead a life of leisure in comparison. But seeing as Ora is so willing to share her fitness secrets – and I’d quite like a stomach you could bounce marshmallows off – I figured it would be rude not to put one of her abs workouts to the test. Here’s everything you need to know about how Ora crushes her core.

How does Rita Ora stay fit?

Thanks to her jet-setting lifestyle, Ora has worked with several personal trainers in recent years, including London-based PT Ciara Madden, aka Ciara London, Rebel Wilson’s PT Jono Castano, and fellow Australian Wade Farmer. Additionally, she’s also known to partake in private Reformer Pilates classes as well as boxing to work her core.


♬ You Only Love Me - Rita Ora

However, as this recently posted ‘legs and bum workout’ video on TikTok proves, Ora is no stranger to training at home alone. Moreover, she takes her home gym equipment with her everywhere, telling Women’s Health, “I always travel with 1kg and 2kg dumbbells, ankle weights, and a medium resistance band. If I can’t do a workout, I just use the ankle weights and wear them when we’re around town or at home.”

In the same interview, Ora reveals she trains a maximum of “four times a week”, adding, “I might go to the gym three times a week, and then I’ll definitely do a Pilates class, so it’s not always weights. It’s about finding what suits you, what you enjoy, and switching up your routine whenever you fancy.”

Ora has also stated she’s a big fan of circuit training, using a mix of bodyweight exercises, weight training, and cardio to give her the strength and endurance she needs to perform on tour. 

“I do circuit training. I usually work out for one or two hours, depending on how much time I have,” she previously told Shape. “I do three circuits and repeat that three times. I mostly focus on my thighs and my bum, so I do a lot of squats and weightlifting. And I do one circuit of cardio.”

You can see a great example of one of Ora’s preferred circuit training sessions below, courtesy of PT Wade Farmer, and while it’s designed to work the legs and glutes, it’s definitely one to try at home or in the gym.

How did Rita Ora get her abs?

As any good PT will tell you, abs are made in the kitchen. So, it’s hardly surprising to hear that Ora maintains a disciplined diet. As well as eating nutritionally balanced meals, she also avoids refined carbs to keep belly fat to a minimum. 

"In the morning, I have two boiled eggs, asparagus, and half a cup of muesli with almond milk," she told Shape. "For lunch, I have chicken or fish with vegetables. And for dinner, I have six to eight ounces of fish with vegetables and half a potato. Plus snacks. I don't eat bread or sugar."

Additionally, Ora practices portion control so she can enjoy treats. "I watch what I eat, but I just cut my portions in half," she shared with Cosmopolitan. "So if I want a burger, I'll just cut it in half and eat half of it. That or I'll take the bread off and only eat the burger. Or if I want fries, then I won't have a burger to go with them."

This approach, coupled with regular exercise, helps Ora keep her body fat levels low to reveal some seriously enviable ab definition. And when it comes to her ab workouts, she’s not cutting any corners. 

How does Rita Ora train her abs?

If you’re expecting Rita Ora’s abs workout to feature bog-standard crunches, sit-ups, and planks, you’re in for a shock. Because her ab exercises of choice are anything but basic. 

In a video posted by PT Jono Castano on his Instagram account (below), Ora is seen doing standing cable row pushes into a rotation, hanging leg raises, reverse crunches into leg raises on a weights bench, hanging leg holds with a hefty dumbbell between her thighs, and – last, but certainly not least - cycling a pair of wheels with her hands from a raised plank position using a HIITAXLE: a machine that Castano calls the “hamster wheel”, and others refer to as an ‘ab roller on steroids’.

While Castano doesn’t provide guidelines for the number of reps and sets you need to do of the five exercises in his video, a little research into his training philosophy told me all I needed to know to try the full workout.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Castano revealed that “with Rita, we might focus on HIIT cardio training in the first half of the week, then core and upper body in the middle, and lower body at the end.”

Clearly, the workout seen here is a core and upper body workout, and Castano says if you want to see real growth in a certain muscle group, like your abdominals, you need to work them to complete fatigue, performing several rounds of each exercise to properly exhaust the muscle.

Finally, the HIIT fan also suggests you wear a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker to monitor your progress and focus on exercises “that keep your heart rate above 120 beats per minute, as these will help you burn as many calories as possible”.

I tried Rita Ora’s five-move abs workout to get her killer six-pack

While Ora is definitely one of those people who makes working out look easy, trust me when I say that the ‘abs’ exercises in this workout are seriously next level, often working multiple areas of the body at the same time (known as compound exercises) to raise the heart rate higher and encourage fat burning. 

Armed with this knowledge, I headed to the gym, strapped on my heart rate monitor, and prepared myself for a world of abdominal pain. Initially, I’d thought about taking an AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) approach to the workout to exhaust my abs, but later decided to attempt 30 reps, or 30 seconds, of each exercise for three rounds – or until my abs were completely fatigued. 

My first round of 30 ‘push into rotation’ exercises on both sides using the cable machine were highly satisfying, and I could feel my obliques really coming into play.

Next, trying to keep my heart rate up, I moved straight into the hanging leg raises. Credit where it’s due, Ora makes these look easy in the video, and her form is point. For myself, having never tried them before, I was more grimacing than graceful. In fact, I really struggled, and I’m not sure whether my arms or abs gave out first when I hit the 22nd rep and had to stop.

If I was hoping for a breather, it didn’t happen. The previous hanging leg raises really targeted the lower abs, and so too did the reverse crunches on the weights bench, which made them extra painful. But with the help of gravity, I made it through the 30 reps.

Heading straight back to the training bar, I slipped a 10kg dumbbell between my legs and managed to hang with my legs parallel to the floor for 30 seconds straight, though it was a real fight to see if my abs would hold up longer than my hand grip.

Fit young woman using an ab roller in a gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Finally, without a fancy HIITAXLE machine to hand, I reached for the next best thing – an ab roller – and adopted the plank position. After 30 seconds of rolling back and forth, my abs were crying, and I was ready to call it a day but decided to try at least another round to truly ‘exhaust’ my muscles. 

I’m pleased to say I managed a second round of 30 reps on both sides on the cable machine, which isn’t that surprising seeing as my obliques had a bit of time off, but as soon as I started hanging from the training bar and trying to raise my legs, I immediately knew my abs weren’t going to go the distance.

17 reps later, I moved onto the weights bench and struggled through 19 reps of reverse leg raises before hanging for around 15 seconds with a dumbbell between my legs. I also used the ab roller for around 20 seconds to finish before crumpling in a heap on the floor. Needless to say, I didn’t attempt a third round.

It’s at this point that I’d love to tell myself that Rita Ora only did each exercise for 10-15 reps, but I really don’t know. If this workout is anything to go by, she truly is the Queen of Core, and I don’t believe anyone can put her abs down winning the genetic lottery. 

Sadly for me, I just don’t know if I can go through the same level of effort on a regular basis - or the next three days of wincing every time I try to reach for something or sneeze - to get a washboard stomach. In short, I won’t be trying this abs workout again.

Joanna Ebsworth

Jo has been obsessed with writing and fitness since her teenage years and spent all her pocket money on magazines and workout VHS tapes. When ITV cancelled Gladiators – causing her dreams of becoming the next ‘Jet’ to crash and burn - she decided to combine her passions and become a fitness writer instead. A qualified PT and author of several fitness guides, she has spent the last 15 years writing for many of the UK’s most respected newspapers, magazines, and online publications. When she’s not interviewing celebrities and athletes or testing fit kit, she can be found watching YouTube breakdowns of the latest MCU releases.