Abs and Core Exercises

The Brutal Abs Workout to Torch Every Inch of Your Core

This brief core workout will torch your midsection from every angle.

Side Plank
Edgar Artiga / Getty
Edgar Artiga / Getty
Exercises 8
Equipment Yes

If you’re one of those guys who don’t want to spend ample time carving out your abs, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Straight Up workout in our August 2013 issue, which focused primarily on the lower abs, was highly effective but also somewhat time-consuming, with 15 total sets. In the newer Level Up installment, we’re giving you a seven-set routine that touches on all major areas of the midsection—lower abs, obliques, and upper abs, as well as the deep inner core muscles. The meat of the workout is a tri-set incorporating hanging leg raises (lower abs), side planks (obliques and deep core), and Rocky Balboa–style weighted situps on a decline bench. 

You’ll finish things off with an accumulated minute of L-sit holds that’s more challenging than it looks on paper. But, hey, we said the workout would be brief, not easy. 

Side Plank:

The basic side plank focuses on lateral core stability through isometric holds. You can perform the exercise either with your downside forearm on the floor or the arm extended. For an added challenge, raise your free arm toward the sky.

Toes to Bar:

All four exercises in the Straight Up workout targeted the lower abs; this is one of two exercises that do the same in the Level Up routine. On each rep, touch your feet to the bar at the top, using momentum from the bottom of the rep to help achieve a longer range of motion.

Dip Bar L-sit Hold:

This isometric hold targets the lower abs (though you’ll also feel the triceps working). Maintain balance by keeping your hips behind your hands. If the straight-leg version is too difficult, do it with bent knees. To make the exercise harder, do your L-sits on the floor.

Weighted Decline Bench Situp:

You’ll be targeting your upper abs here against additional resistance. But keep that resistance light, starting with a 10-pound weight plate, dumbbell, or medicine ball before gradually increasing in 5-pound increments.

Straight Up

Exercise 1

Scorpion Tail You'll need: Dip Station How to
Scorpion Tails thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Flutter Kick How to
Flutter Kick thumbnail
4 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Hanging Knee Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Hanging Knee Raise thumbnail
3 sets
25 reps
-- rest
Perform on dip bars if possible.

Exercise 4

Cliffhanger You'll need: Bench How to
Cliffhanger thumbnail
4 sets
25 reps
-- rest

Level Up

Exercise 1

Toes to Bar You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Toes to Bar Exercise thumbnail
2 sets
12 reps
-- rest
Triset with: side plank (sets: 2 reps: 45 sec per side) and weighted decline bench situp (sets: 2 reps: 20)

Exercise 2

Dip Bar L-sit Hold You'll need: Dip Station How to
L-Sit Hold thumbnail
-- sets
60 sec reps
-- rest
Accumulated in as many individual sets as necessary, resting in between holds. For example, hold for 10 to 15 seconds, rest for 30 to 45 seconds, hold 10 to 15 more seconds, and so on until you’ve reached 60 seconds of L-sit holds.