The best ab workout ever created, according to an elite fitness expert

Stop doing crunches and do this instead – it takes 8 minutes

Man doing plank
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want to move and perform better, as well as reduce your risk of injury, you need a strong, stable core. This workout from Physical Therapist, Dr. Aaron Horschig (Founder of Squat University) will help you achieve just that with three simple exercises, that will take you just eight minutes. Plus, they’re that effective, he’s even called this ‘the best ab workout ever created’.  

Instead of focusing on popular ab exercises, like crunches and sit-ups, the exercises that Dr Horschig has chosen will target your entire core. This does include your abdominal muscles, but it also means your pelvis, lower back and hips, all of which are important for better balance and movement in everyday life. A strong core will also help you reach your fitness goals too; you’ll be able to move quicker, have better coordination and lift heavier without excessive load on the lower back. 

The workout

Complete two rounds of the three exercises below at the end of your regular workout, or if you just want to do a core-only workout, try completing it for three rounds instead. Here are your exercises:

Weighted carries

Man carrying kettlebell

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Holding just one weight rather than two will be a much greater challenge to your core,” says Dr Horschig. This is because it loads the spine unevenly, so all your core muscles have to work extra hard to keep your body upright and stop it  from tipping over to the side. 

  • To perform: Grab a single kettlebell, dumbbell or even a backpack. With your item placed to the side of you, squat down, brace your core and pick it up in one hand. Walk slowly and steadily, for 30 seconds without letting your body bending to the side. Then, swap sides. Avoid any foamy shoes for this exercise, opt for a decent pair of workout shoes instead to ensure stable foot placing.

Stir the pot

Man performing a plank on an exercise ball

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is quite an advanced exercise but, if you can do it, Dr Horschigg says it's excellent for working the core muscles on the front and back of your torso. If it’s too tricky, Dr Horschig suggests doing the beginner version; a high plank. 

  • To perform: Begin in a kneeling position with the exercise ball in front of you. Place your forearms on the exercise ball, lift your knees off the floor and walk your feet backwards so your legs are fully extended. If you can’t do the next bit, hold here for 30 seconds. Otherwise, begin moving your forearms in small circle motions (like you’re stirring a pot). Then, over time, make these circles bigger.

Side plank

Woman doing side plank

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you struggle with a normal side plank, perform it from your knees instead. “The great thing about side planks is that they place minimal load on half of your trunk muscles meaning there’s minimal load on your spine,” says Dr Horschig. If you therefore suffer from back pain, Dr Horschig says this should be safe. 

  • To perform: Lying on one side of your body, extend both legs so that they’re straight and stack your feet on top of each other. Then, bring your elbow directly underneath your shoulder with your forearm extended out in front of you. Push through your forearm and feet to raise your hips towards the ceiling. Hold here for 10 seconds, then lower your hips back towards the ground. Do six 10 second holds on each side of your body, lowering after 10 seconds for a five second rest.

Want some more functional core workouts? Give this three-move standing ab workout a go next, (a great option if you struggle with floor-based exercises), or this beginner-friendly bodyweight core workout.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.