ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 15-Minute Workout for a Strong Core

Training Tips

15-Minute Workout for a Strong Core

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Date: 2022-05-03


Contrary to popular belief, sit-ups are not the best answer to improving core strength and definition. A crucial part of building a better core is to treat it the same as you would any other muscle. Muscles need stress and resistance to experience growth. Without pushing a muscle past its limits and creating micro-tears, the body is not forced to adapt or repair. 

If you’re looking for the visual of the six-pack abs, proper nutrition is a must. Your body fat must be low in order to see the ab muscles. Additionally, while bodyweight exercises are great, they may not be enough for every clients’ goals. Weights and resistance can be more effective in helping you reach the muscle and strength gains you or your clients are seeking. 

Abdominal Training for Strength

When completing this workout, start with just bodyweight exercises. Consistently increase the difficulty of each exercise and add more resistance as time goes on. The right combination of sets, reps, and loads will help you reach your goals.

The workout should last no more than 15 minutes. 

The Warm-up

As with any muscle group, start with a warm-up to help prepare your body for strenuous activity. It dilates the blood vessels, which ensures the muscles are getting enough oxygen to perform the workout effectively. It also helps reduce the risk of injury. 

#1. Torso Rotations 

In a standing position, raise your arms and elbows to about shoulder height. At the torso, begin rotating side to side. Be sure to keep your feet planted and continue rotating from one side to another for 30 seconds. 

#2. Cat Cow

In a tabletop position, let your back arch down toward the floor. This creates a curve at your spine. Next, tuck your head and tailbone in to arch your spine up. This creates a hump on your back. Also known as the cat portion of the exercise. It is important that when you perform the arch up or cat, you take a deep breath in. Then when you perform the cow, you take a deep breath out. Repeat for 30 seconds

#3. Mountain Climbers

Start in a high plank or push-up position. Bring one knee into the same side elbow, then quickly switch to the opposite leg. Rotate legs continuously and as quickly as possible. Keep your hips parallel to the ground to maintain core activation. Repeat for 30 seconds.

The Circuit

Remember to adjust your sets, reps, and loads as needed to help you reach your goals.

Aim for 3 rounds total.

#1. Hanging Knee Raises

Hang from a pull-up bar with your legs straight below the body. In a secure position, engage your core muscles to prevent unnecessary swinging. Bring both knees up towards your chest, then back down to the starting position. Complete 12 reps.   

#2. Decline Crunch

Secure your legs and feet into a decline bench. Start with your hands behind your head and slowly lower your body down. As you approach the back of the bench or the end range of motion, make sure to keep your core engaged. Crunch back to the starting position and repeat for 15 reps.

#3. Machine Crunches

On the ab crunch machine, reach your arms underneath the front pad. Secure your feet into the bottom of the machine and begin crunching forward. Lean into the pad enough to stimulate the core muscles. Then control the weight back up. Sit far enough up without losing total tension on the core. Immediately move into the next rep. Perform 20 reps total. 

#4. Medicine Ball Russian Twists

In a seated position, hold a medicine ball close to your chest. Raise your feet off the ground and begin rotating side to side. It’s important to initiate rotation at the core and not just your arms. Allow the medicine ball to follow the movement, not lead. Complete 45 seconds, then move to the next exercise.

#5. Ab Rollouts

Find an ab wheel or use a barbell with weights on the end. Start out on your knees and roll your body out and away from your legs. Keep your core tight and back flat. Let your hips move toward the ground, but avoid compromising your lower back. Return to the starting position by using your core muscles. Avoid excessive use of the arms and shoulders. Complete 12 reps. Then start at the beginning of the circuit. 

The Cool Down

You have completed the entire ab circuit. Now it’s time to stretch to help you recover for your next workout. 

#1. Lying Lower Back Stretch

Lie flat on your back and pull your left knee into your chest. Allow the left arm to fall straight out to the side of the body. Now cross your left leg over the body keeping your left arm flat on the ground. Look towards your left hand and continue to pull your leg with your right hand. Stretch and hold on each side for 20 seconds.  

#2. Cobra

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 15-Minute Workout for a Strong Core

Lie in a prone position. With your hands underneath your shoulders, push your body up as high as you can. Be sure to keep your hips and waistline down on the ground. Stretch and hold for 30 seconds.

#3. Overhead Stretch

In a standing position, raise both arms overhead. Lean to the right side and push your hips the opposite way, to the left. Hold for 3-4 seconds and then switch to the opposite side. Repeat for a total of 30 seconds.  

Extend Your Education

Learn more on how to build better abs and develop strength in the abdominal region through a variety of exercises. Check out these blogs:


Learn how to provide clients with customized training programs to help them reach their fitness goals. Check out ISSA’s #1-rated Personal Trainer certification program.

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