Fitness

9 Short & Spicy HIIT Ab Workouts

You get cardio and strength in just one session.

The best HIIT ab workouts, straight from fitness trainers.
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When you want a core-strengthening exercise that’s straight to the point, look no further than a HIIT ab workout. It’s fast-paced, it’s super tough, and it’s a great way to target all the muscles in your core.

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a workout modality that’s all about explosive movements followed by brief periods of rest, says Alayna Curry, an AFAA-certified fitness instructor and licensed Zumba instructor. The point of the work/rest cycle is to raise your heart rate up and down, she tells Bustle, which is great for cardio training. It’s also an excellent way to target specific muscle groups like your core.

If you only have five minutes, that’s totally fine. “HIIT works well for training the core because you can fit a good amount of work into a small amount of time,” says Curry, who notes that five minutes is actually all you need. She recommends tacking core exercises onto the end of your workout about three times a week.

HIIT ab workouts are also a nice change of pace, especially if you’re tired of doing endless crunches or other traditional core-strengthening moves. These spicy workouts get the job done quickly while keeping you engaged so you can reap all the benefits of a stronger core — like better posture, stability, and agility — without feeling bored.

Ready to give some a try? Keep scrolling to see nine different HIIT ab routines from fitness trainers. Prepare to sweat.

1

Pilates-Style HIIT Circuit

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Curry recommends this low-impact circuit to reach all your core muscles.

- Start in a seated position with your knees bent and toes touching the floor.

- Roll onto your back and then up into a high boat pose with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet pointing forward.

- Hold at the top for a second then roll back.

- Keep rolling back and up for 20 seconds.

- Next, hold your high boat pose and alternate touching each toe down, briefly tapping the ground.

- Repeat for 20 seconds.

- Place your hands on the ground near your hips and do knee tucks.

- Extend your legs straight and lean back with your upper body, then pull your knees into your chest.

- Repeat for 30 seconds.

- Do the whole circuit 3 times.

2

Lower Ab Sesh

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Emily Nichols, a NASM-certified personal trainer and Orangetheory coach, is a fan of this routine that works the lower abs and obliques.

- Flutter kicks: Lie back, lift your feet off the ground, and pump your legs quickly up and down.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Russian twists: Sit down, lift your legs off the floor, and twist your torso and arms side to side.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- V sit-ups: Lie on your back, reach your arms back behind your head. Place one foot down, lift the other leg out straight, and do a sit-up.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Bicycle crunches.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Mountain climbers.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Oblique crunches.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Repeat for 5 rounds.

3

Kettlebell Tabata

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Pierre Armand, a trainer with Fhitting Room, suggests this quick routine that uses the Tabata style for a quick core burn.

- Lie on your back.

- Reach your arms out behind you and lift your legs off the floor for a hollow hold.

- For a challenge, hold a kettlebell in your hands.

- Add in a flutter kick by quickly kicking your feet up and down.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, then take a 10-second break.

- Get into a sit-up position.

- Hold a kettlebell in one hand.

- As you sit up, push the kettlebell straight up with one arm.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, then take a 10-second break.

- Alternate between these moves for 4 rounds.

4

3-Move Circuit

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Whitney Berger, CPT, a certified personal trainer and founder of WhitFitNYC, says this routine will get your heart rate up while training your rectus abdominus muscles and obliques.

- Bicycle crunches: Keep your lower back on the mat, elbows out wide, and your legs bent at a 45-degree angle. Twist your core to bring one shoulder to the opposite knee.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest for 10.

- Mountain climbers: Hold a high plank with your shoulders over your wrists. Quickly drive your knees into your chest.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest for 10.

- Plank jacks: Hold a high plank. Jump your feet out wide then back in again.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest for 10.

5

Standing Abs

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Nichols also recommends this HIIT-style crunch-less routine.

- High knees: Stand tall and quickly alternate between raising each knee up to hip level.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Burpees: Jump up, place your hands on the floor and jump your feet back into a high plank.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Plank jacks: Hold a high plank. Jump your feet out wide then back in again.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Squat twists: Squat down, stand up, bring an elbow to opposite knee. Alternate.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Sumo squat with punch: Step your feet out wide. Hold the squat at the bottom and begin to cross punch diagonally across your body.

- Repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

- Repeat 5 rounds.

6

5-Move Routine

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Next up, try this core routine from personal trainer Brooke Cavalla.

- Bicycle crunches.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Plank jacks.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Frog jumps: Start at the back of your mat and jump forward, landing in a low squat. Place your hands down on the ground and jump your feet back into a plank. Use your core to walk your hands back to standing and repeat.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Cross-body mountain climbers: In a high plank, bring your knee to your opposite elbow and alternate back and forth.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Plank hip dips: Hold a forearm plank. Slowly rotate your hips to drop one hip to the ground. Use your core to bring yourself back to center and then drop to the opposite side.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Complete 3 to 4 rounds.

7

Sprint Routine

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You can incorporate running into a HIIT ab sesh for even more of a challenge. “This routine uses sprinting in one of the intervals because the core is extremely engaged during the exercise,” Cavalla says.

- Sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds.

- Plank switch jump lunges: Start in a high plank with one foot forward and planted outside your hand. The other foot is straight back behind you. Jump your back foot forward to the outside of your hand and jump the other foot back. Continue to alternate.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds.

- Up-down planks: Start in a high plank. Slowly lower onto your forearms. Press into one hand to push yourself back up into a high plank. Alternate arms and repeat.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds.

- Skater hops: Hop to the side and bring one foot behind you like a speed skater. Hop to the other side and continue to alternate.

- Repeat for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Complete 3 to 4 rounds.

8

Cardio-Heavy Abs

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Cavalla also suggests this combo to target your entire core.

- Plank tuck jumps: Start in a high plank. Jump your feet forward towards your hands then back again.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Burpee with 4 mountain climbers: Perform a burpee. Once in the plank position, add in 4 quick mountain climbers, then finish the burpee sequence.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Jump squats: Jump up and land in a squat.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Side plank with a leg lift on the left side.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Side plank with a leg lift on the right side.

- Repeat for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

- Repeat for 3 to 4 rounds.

9

HIIT Challenge

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Grace Albin, an ACE-certified fitness instructor, says to fit as many reps as you possibly can into each round.

- Repeat all moves for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Shave 10 seconds off each round.

- Teaser pulses: From a sitting positing lift both legs off the floor. Hover them in the air, point your toes, and extend them straight up so your body makes a letter V. Do rapid exhales as you pulse your legs up and down about 3 inches.

- Oblique rope climbs: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Reach both arms up towards the ceiling and twist your trunk right to left like you’re climbing up an imaginary rope.

- Ceiling kicks: Lie on your back with your head and shoulders relaxed. Place your palms on the floor by your hips. Tuck your knees into your core, then extend your legs straight up to the ceiling. Exhale as you lift your butt off the floor. Lower back down and repeat.

- Leg scissors: Sit on the floor with your legs lifted into a V. Alternate lifting one leg as you lower the other.

- Sit-ups with floor tap: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet hip-width apart. Lift your head, then shoulders, then your back into a sit-up. Reach your fingers up to the ceiling then reach forward to tap your fingers between your feet. Lower back down and repeat.

- Oblique twists: Lie on your back with your right knee crossed over your left. Lift and rotate your left shoulder toward your right knee. Repeat on the other side.

- Aim for 3 rounds.

Sources:

Alayna Curry, AFAA-certified fitness instructor, licensed Zumba instructor

Pierre Armand, trainer with Fhitting Room

Whitney Berger, CPT, certified personal trainer, founder of WhitFitNYC

Emily Nichols, NASM-certified personal trainer, Orangetheory coach

Brooke Cavalla, personal trainer

Grace Albin, ACE-certified fitness instructor