Workout shortcut: Seven-minute abs

Before you get your hopes up, let me first clarify that this workout will not result in a six-pack after seven short minutes. However, if you do seven-minute abs a few days a week for an extended period, there’s a good chance you’ll start to notice results. This is a great circuit for when you’re short on time but still want to get some kind of core workout in. My cross-country teammates and I used to do this after our runs in college, and I recommend tacking this on after some form of cardio, but if you’re really in a hurry you could just do this circuit.

Pocket Watch

Essentially, you’re going to do seven core exercises for 30 seconds apiece, and then repeat the full circuit to total seven minutes. The goal is to keep it continuous and focus on working your abs.  You’ll need some kind of watch, preferably one that you can set to beep every 30 seconds. If you don’t have a watch, try doing 15 reps of each leg lift exercise and 20-25 of each different type of crunch.   Here are the seven basic exercises:

1. Leg lifts – start by lying on your back, legs straight up to form a 90 degree angle to the floor. Slowly lower your legs (without letting them touch the floor) and then raise them again.

2. Diamond leg lifts – similar to the regular leg lifts, but press your feet together and bend your knees so that your legs form a diamond (roughly).

3. Bicycle crunch – Lying on your back, raise your legs and bend at the knees to form a 90 degree angle (lower legs parallel to the floor). Keep your hands behind your head. Bring you left elbow to your right knee while extending your left leg – as if you were pedaling a bike. Alternate.

4. Standard crunch – lying on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Crunch.

5. Side crunch left – start with a standard crunch position, but then drop your legs the right so that your right leg is on the ground with your left leg on top. You should feel this crunch in your left side.

6. Side crunch right – same as above, only with your legs facing the opposite direction.

7. Toe touches – Lie with your legs raised, forming a 90 degree angle with the floor. Raise your arms and curl your body up; attempt to touch your toes. Release the position, then repeat.

Repeat all seven exercises again, 30 seconds each. You can also get creative and mix up the crunches you use, if you have a particular favorite (e.g., suitcases).

Bonus abridged core: No time for seven-minute abs? Try this five-minute plank workout: one minute front plank, one minute side plank (each side), one minute back plank, and one minute bridge.

Check back tomorrow for tips on getting to the gym despite being pressed for time.

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