One of the questions I get asked a lot from my clients using a Beachbody fitness program is, “should I be doing more ab work?”
The truth is you probably don’t need any specific ab work! Most of the modern Beachbody fitness programs like P90X2, P90X3, T25 and TurboFire and Les Mills Combat feature strength, cardio and balance routines that are constantly working the core, so it’s not necessary to have an ab-specific routine.
If you want to trim your waistline and/or get visible abs (a “6-pack”), the most essential thing to focus on is cleaning up your eating. Take the extra 15 minutes a few times a week to prep some healthy food for the week instead of doing extra crunches and you’ll probably get better results.
That being said, I personally like to incorporate an ab/core routine a couple times a week to build strength in that area and to make me more aware of my mid-section. When I have some ab soreness or feel strong in my core it makes me more aware of my food choices. Since I usually workout first thing in the morning, sometimes I’ll use a quick ab workout in the afternoon to help remind me of my goals and reinforce clean eating habits for the rest of the day.
Since they are usually shorter I also like to use these ab-centric workouts on days when I don’t have time for more. Moving for 10-20 minutes helps me maintain momentum and, once again, stay in touch with my body to increase my chances of making better food choices.
When it comes to ab/core workouts it is very hard to pick a favorite! Here are (quite) a few favorites.
15 Minutes or Less
Ab Ripper X from P90X – it’s quick and effective, and completely mobile if you have the P90X App. I have a shoulder that acts up from time to time so it is nice to have this option that gives my shoulder a break since it doesn’t include core work.
10-Minute Trainer – The ultimate “no-excuses” ab workout. Plus it is available for free online!
Les Mills Pump Core – This is a good pace and not overly intense so it is accessible to all fitness levels.
Core + More
21 Day Fix Ultimate DVD – Includes two 30-minute workouts: Flat Abs Fix & Barre Legs. If you really want to prioritize your core work, Flat Abs Fix is ideal. It has standing ab moves, plank work and traditional crunch-type moves. And Barre Legs is awesome for continuing the toning to your thighs/butt/legs.
Les Mills Combat Ultimate DVDs – If you’re doing Les Mills Combat I really think these four workouts are worth adding in, especially the Core Attack routine. The exercises really challenge your entire core (including glutes, plus some arm/shoulder-burning plank moves). And while it is ideal to use a comprehensive program with the structure of a tested and proven schedule, you could create your own schedule by doing each of these workouts once a week.
P90X3 Elite DVD – Includes 3 workouts, and while the X3 Ab Ripper routine would be effective for anyone I think the other workouts (Complex Upper & Complex Lower) are best for those who have a strong fitness base, particularly if you’ve completed P90X2, P90X3 or another program with similar intensity. This is the only option noted here that comes with its own 30-day schedule.
Also worth noting…
If you’re looking to work a particular body part or need variety, the P90X One on One Series is perfect for that. You’ll find workouts such as “Killer Abs” or “Butt & Belly” (one of my favorites!) to incorporate into your main schedule.
You don’t have to be on the floor doing crunches or planks to get a ripped mid-section. A Les Mills Combat workout is equal to thousands of crunches! It’s great to “feel” your abs the next day without realizing you were even working them!
Don’t forget the 80/20 rule:
Since abs are really revealed in the kitchen, use one of these great tools for dialing in your nutrition (80% of your results)!