30 Minute Ab Workout: Sculpt Your Abs with These Exercises

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
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Getting your abs to pop is challenging and frustrating, but with the proper exercises, it is possible.

Over the past decade and with countless success stories from my clients, I created a perfect 30-minute ab workout that will get those abs popping and make them more aesthetically appealing.

I took serious 20-hour research to get the programming right before writing this article to ensure you get the best results in as little time as possible.

Below, you will learn about the best exercises that target all major trunk muscles and the accompanying sets, reps, and rest intervals to achieve the best results.

Quick Summary

  • The best 30-minute ab workout consists of mountain climbers, elbow plank with toe taps, right side plank, lower ab crunches, bicycle crunches, Russian twists, and high boat to low boat.
  • Ab muscles, such as rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, obliquus internus, and externus, lack fast muscle twitch fibers, allowing them only to be targeted with endurance-based programming.
  • According to a study from the Journal of Human Kinetics, drinking water helps in muscle recovery and aids muscle repair and growth.
  • After an intense 30-minute abdominal workout, I highly recommend focusing on recovery and stretching.

30-Minute Ab Workout

30 minute ab workout to sculpt your abs

The first thing I need to tell you about ab workouts is that they're always performed to build muscular endurance since the entire ab musculature lacks fast twitch fibers.

This means you shouldn’t overload an exercise to raise your core strength or power as much [1].

The second thing you should know before we dive deep into the 30-minute abs workout — and I can't stress this enough — is that the proper diet is necessary to get the best results and make your abs more visible [2].

Now let’s jump into the best ab exercises to build strong core muscles and decrease the injury of the upper body.

"A stable core will help you deadlift, squat, and bench press more weight. The best ab exercises aren’t necessarily the frilliest."

- Mike Dewar, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are one of the most effective and endurance-based exercises that activate all major abdominal muscles and keep your core engaged for the entire exercise.

I consider it one of the best ab workouts for women due to its effectiveness in targeting the core muscles.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a high plank position with your legs extended, but knees bent (slightly) to avoid hyperextension issues.
  2. Keep your elbows locked, your shoulders fixed, and your entire core engaged during the exercise.
  3. Start the exercise by doing a “high-knee” exercise with your left leg until it closes 90 degrees with the hips.
  4. Bring the left knee back to the starting position and simultaneously repeat the same movement with the right leg and right knee.
  5. Perform four sets lasting for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds in between. This totals 4 minutes.

2. Elbow Plank With Toe Taps

Performing elbow plank

Elbow plank with toe taps is an excellent exercise for both lower and upper abs that will help you lose body fat due to its high-intensity nature.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a starting plank position on your elbows and keep your leg straight during the whole exercise.
  2. Keep your core musculature engaged to avoid sagging your butt and bending your lumbar spine.
  3. Start the exercise by abducting your right leg with the fully extended knees and perform a toe tap on the side.
  4. Bring your right leg to the starting position with both your feet parallel, and repeat the same with the other leg.
  5. Perform 4 sets of 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds in between. This portion of the workout lasts for 4 minutes.

3. Right Side Plank

Right-side planks can target abdominal muscles on the same side of the body and build a strong anti-lateral flexion movement pattern that stabilizes the trunk in the frontal plane.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a starting position on your right elbow, keep your legs straight, and the second point of balance is achieved on your toes.
  2. Hold the right-side plank position without moving your spine, bringing your hips down, or twisting the head.
  3. Perform the exercise for 30 seconds for 4 sets and rest 30 seconds in between. This exercise lasts for 4 minutes.

Related: Planks vs Crunches: Which is Best

4. Left Side Plank

Planking sideways

The left side plank will build strong abdominal muscles on the left side of your body, making anti-lateral stabilization possible to avoid lower back injuries.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a starting plank position on your left arm.
  2. Keep your core engaged during the entire exercise, back flat, and left elbow fixed.
  3. Perform the whole exercise for 30 seconds, four sets, and rest for 30 seconds in between.
  4. This portion of the workout lasts for 3 minutes.

5. Lower Ab Crunches

Lower ab crunches will target the most important fibers of the ab musculature that help prevent movement in the spine, reducing the chance of overall injury.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a lying position on your back with your legs closing the 90-degree angles with your hips and your knees extended.
  2. Start the exercise by raising your lower back from the floor and pushing your legs towards the ceiling.
  3. When you reach the top position, slowly lower the legs to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 15 reps in minutes, for 4 minutes in total.

Related post: Best Lower Ab Exercises

6. Bicycle Crunches

Doing bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches are effective for targeting internal and external obliques.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a lying position on your back and bend your legs and knees for 90 degrees.
  2. Start the exercise by performing a bicycle motion with your legs and follow with the hands contralaterally so your right elbow touches your left leg.
  3. Perform for 30 seconds for four sets and rest for 30 seconds in between for 4 minutes.

7. Russian Twists

Russian twists belong to the weighted ab exercises targeting your external and internal obliques.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume a sitting position and bend your legs and knees to keep them in the air during the exercise comfortably.
  2. Pick the appropriate weight and hold the weight in front of your body with both hands.
  3. Start the exercise by twisting your body on one side and placing the weight on the floor but never resting in the bottom position.
  4. Twist your body on the opposite side and repeat the same motion.
  5. Perform twists for 30 seconds for four sets and rest for 30 seconds in between. This exercise lasts for 4 minutes.

8. High Boat to Low Boat

Woman doing high boat to low boat

High boat to low boat is a complex core exercise that will build endurance and stability in your trunk.

Here's how you perform this exercise:

  1. Assume sitting and bending your knees and legs as in the previous exercise.
  2. Keep your elbows straight and shoulders flexed so they are a little above your trunk on the sides of your body.
  3. Start the exercise by extending your knees and performing a reverse crunch.
  4. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
  5. Perform for 30 seconds for 2 sets, and rest for 30 seconds in between. This last portion lasts for 2 minutes.

Related posts:

Recovery and Stretching Post-ab Workout

After an intense 30-minute abdominal workout, I highly recommend focusing on recovery and stretching. This not only aids in muscle repair but also enhances flexibility and prepares your body for future workouts.

Based on my experience, here are some points for your post-workout recovery:

  • Importance of stretching: Post-workout stretching is vital for reducing muscle tension and preventing stiffness. It helps in lengthening the muscles that have been contracted during the workout, promoting flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Effective abdominal stretches:
    • Cobra pose: Lie face down and gently lift your chest off the ground by straightening your arms. This stretch targets the rectus abdominis and the obliques.
    • Cat-cow stretch: On all fours, alternate between arching your back towards the ceiling (Cat) and dipping it towards the floor (Cow). This movement helps in releasing tension in the entire core area.
    • Child’s pose: Sit back on your heels with your forehead on the mat and arms extended. This pose is excellent for relaxing the back muscles as well as the sides of the abdomen.
  • Incorporating deep breathing: While stretching, focus on deep, controlled breathing. Deep breathing helps in oxygenating the muscles, facilitating recovery, and reducing post-workout soreness.
  • Hydration: Rehydrate and replenish your body post-workout. According to a study from the Journal of Human Kinetics, drinking water helps in muscle recovery and aids muscle repair and growth [3].
  • Active recovery: Engage in light activities such as walking or yoga on rest days. Active recovery helps in maintaining blood circulation, which is crucial for transporting nutrients to the muscles and aiding in the repair process.

FAQs

Is 30 Minutes Enough for Abs?

Yes, 30 minutes is enough for abs. Most ab and core workouts only take 10 to 15 minutes maximum to engage all the necessary muscles and forge a strong trunk that promotes endurance and stability to your spine.

Is It Possible to Get Abs in 30 Days?

It depends on different factors if you can get abs in 30 days. The two most important factors include your current workout regime and nutritional plan, which are the most significant in getting your abs visible.

How Many Minutes of Ab Workout Is Effective?

Ten to fifteen minutes of ab workout is effective. Most ab workouts consist of numerous exercises targeting your rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and internal and external obliques and can be performed in less than 10 minutes if the intensity is set properly.

How Can I Get My Abs More Visible?

You can use a high-quality fat burner to get your abs more visible.

According to my personal experience as a personal trainer and countless hours put into research, I concluded that proper diet, exercise regime, and adequate supplements are the most important factors for getting your abs more visible.

I suggest reading our articles on best fat burners to pick the ones that are tested and provenly get consistent fat-burning results in the shortest amount of time:

Let me know which ab workout exercise is your favorite and why.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7345922/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8017325/
  3. https://jhk.termedia.pl/Hydration-to-Maximize-Performance-And-Recovery-Knowledge-Attitudes-and-Behaviors,158616,0,2.html
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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