Spicy ab workout for beginners

by Brinley Ling on Monday 14 March 2022

5 min read

Is your lower back often sore and stiff from sitting all day in the office? Are you limited by core strength or stability during training, preventing you from progressing? Is your gym program lacking spice?

If the answer is yes, then add this circuit on to the end of your workout or use it as a kickstart into your fitness journey by making it a part of your new daily routine and conquer those deep core weaknesses right out the gate. 

Pack some heat into your day with a short but spicy ab workout that anyone can do, anywhere and anytime!

Why is this workout so spicy you ask?

Because by the end of it, you will be feeling that ab burn that we all secretly love! Do this ab workout regularly to reap not only the aesthetic benefits but to gain improvements in your functional core strength.

In this workout you will not only be working your “abs” but all the muscles that make up your core including your obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae and pelvic floor. Core strength is important to help protect your lower back from injury, help improve your posture and overall well-being. Before starting any abdominal exercise, it is important to firstly activate your core. Click on the link to learn more about how to properly engage your core muscles.

What you need

Just your bodyweight, a stopwatch, and an exercise mat.

The Exercises


Lay down on your stomach and rest on your forearms. Push up from the floor onto your forearms and toes and hold this position. Elbows should be directly under your shoulders making sure your forearms are parallel to one another. Tuck in your chin, draw your elbows back towards your toes and maintain a neutral pelvis.

Modification: The plank can be modified by dropping down to your knees while still maintaining a neutral spine.

Side plank

Resting on your forearm, raise your hips off the ground and hold your body on its side supported only by one arm and the side of the feet. Keep body as straight as possible and avoid tipping too far forward or backwards. Feet can be stacked or one in front of the other.

Modification: The side plank can be modified by dropping down to knees to reduce loading and keeping hips in the same plane as your torso.

Toe taps

Lying flat on your back, lift both knees up into the table top position. Engage your core while keeping your tail bone glued to the ground slowly move one leg at a time away from your torso towards the floor and then back to table top.

Modification: Toe taps can be modified by reducing the distance that your legs travel from your torso. 

Table top crunch

Lying flat on your back, lift both knees up into a table position. Keeping the chin tucked into the chest slightly raise your head from the ground until you feel your core begin to brace under tension then returning your head back to the ground.

Modification: Table top crunches can be modified by reducing how high you lift your head from the ground. If you find your neck fatiguing during this movement, you may opt to relax your neck into your hands to focus more on the abdominal contraction.


Lying flat on your back, lift both knees up into a table position. Engage core keeping your tail bone glued to the mat slowly move the opposing leg and arm away from your torso and stretching out straight and long, then returning to your starting position. Complete the same movement with the other leg and arm, alternating on each rep. Only move your limbs in the range at which you can maintain a neutral spine.

Modification: The deadbug can be modified by reducing the distance that your limbs travel from your torso. 

Shoulder taps

Starting in a high plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists. Engage your core to stabilize your body as you lift one hand off the ground and touch your opposite shoulder while attempting to maintain hip stability.

Modification: Hold a high plank position as an isometric hold. Once comfortable in this position challenge yourself by lifting one hand at a time a few inches from the ground and returning it back while maintaining hip stability. 

Glute bridge

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and keep your core engaged. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold this position for a few of seconds before easing back down.

Russian twist

Start by sitting on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lean back until you feel the tension in your core and your upper body is at around a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight at this angle throughout. Brace your core and raise your legs up off the ground. Rotate your arms all the way over to one side, then do the same on the other side.

Modification: Modify the Russian twist by keeping your feet rested on the ground to give you a little extra stability. 

The workout

Place a stopwatch out in front of you and put on your hottest playlist (for approx. 3 songs) and go AMRAP style!

Round 1

Our plank round, focusing on isometric core contractions to increase deep spinal stability using resisted movements and avoiding pressure on the lower back.  

  1. Plank 30s
  2. Side plank 15s
  3. Plank 30s
  4. Rest 30s
  5. Plank 30s
  6. Side plank 15s
  7. Plank 30s

Round 2

Focusing on co-contractions between the core and the rest of the body. Here we are teaching the core to work and function with the surrounding muscles in the body.

  1. Russian twist 30s
  2. Shoulder taps 30s
  3. Glute bridge 30s
  4. Rest 30s
  5. Russian twist 30s
  6. Shoulder taps 30s
  7. Glute bridge 30s

Round 3

This last round is deceptively challenging, placing emphasis on controlling the core as the arms and legs are drawn away from the body. These exercises challenge reciprocal movement patterns teach upper limb disassociation from the lower limb. Make sure to focus on maintaining that neutral spine bracing position through out these movements.

  1. Toe taps 30s
  2. Table top crunch 30s
  3. Deadbug 30s
  4. Rest 30s
  5. Table top crunch 30s
  6. Toe taps 30s
  7. Deadbug 30s

Trainer Bio

Brinley Ling a Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Collins St in Melbourne, and she thrives on helping everyone reach their fitness goals by building a great base for injury prevention and strength. Her training focuses on fat loss, muscle toning and specialised strength and conditioning, to get you moving faster, feeling less tired and achieving the body you feel most comfortable in while maintaining a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

If you're interested to learn how getting active at Virgin Active can have major impacts to your wellness, talk to us about your fitness and wellness goals today!

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