• Photo for Ultimate abs in 10 minutes (or less)
    Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

Ultimate abs in 10 minutes (or less)

By Stephen Kelly

Admit it: Whether you're walking down the beach or heating up the dance floor, when you shed your shirt in public you want to reveal washboard abs. You are not alone. Almost every guy we know wants a lean, segmented midsection. The problem is, so few actually achieve it.

We can help. Just give us 10 minutes out of your day, three days a week, and our ultimate abs routine will have people thinking you're chiseled out of marble instead of molded out of mush.

Besides the obvious aesthetic benefits, a strong, tight midsection is crucial to developing core strength and preventing injury. Our high-intensity workout will help you develop the type of tone, definition, and strength most gay guys—heck, all guys—are looking for.

Busting through the myths of ab training is a good place to start. Despite popular belief, performing hundreds of repetitive crunches several times per week won't get you there. The secret to six-pack building is to train the full range of abdominal muscles, not just the uppers. Our workout focuses on the four key abdominal muscles: rectus abdominis (upper and lower), internal and external obliques (sides), and transversalis (deep).

We've chosen five different exercises designed to work the full range of abdominals, starting with the lower abs, followed by the obliques, and finishing with the upper abs. There's a method to this sequencing madness. Lower ab and oblique exercises also engage and partially fatigue the upper abs, meaning the uppers don't have to be worked as hard to ensure a good workout.

Done consistently, you should start seeing results within a month. Remember, in addition to building up the full range of ab muscles, you also need to shred body fat. For optimum results you should incorporate at least 45 minutes of cardio three times a week into your routine, while maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

The Exercises
Just cycle through this routine three times at a steady pace, resting only a minute between sets. Three sets should take you no more than ten minutes. Do this routine three times per week, preferably at the start of your workout so that you make sure you don't skip it.

  • Incline leg raise (see Photo 1): Lie on a slant board with your head at the top of the incline, your hands gripping the handles behind your head, and your legs fixed in a slightly bent position. Using the muscles in your lower abs, slowly raise your legs until they form a 90-degree angle with your torso, allowing your tailbone to rise an inch or two off the board. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 15 reps.
  • Oblique crunch (see Photo 2): Lie on a floor mat with your knees bent at about a 45-degree angle, your fingertips behind the ears, and your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Let your knees fall to the right side, stacked on top of each other. Make sure your shoulder blades remain flat on the floor. Lift your upper body by contracting your oblique muscles on your left side, crunching your rib cage to your pelvis. Hold for a second or two, and return to the beginning position. Do 15 reps, then switch your legs to the left side and do another 15 reps.
  • Pulse-ups (see Photo 3): Lie flat on a floor or bench, hands underneath your buttocks, with your legs slightly bent and pointed up toward the ceiling. Pull your midsection inward (imagine you're trying to pull it into your spine) and use your lower abs to lift your hips a few inches off the ground. Hold for one second and return to the starting position. Do 15 reps.
  • Bicycle crunches (see Photo 4): This is one of the most effective abs exercises focused on the obliques. Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your fingertips to your ears. Bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion in a slow and controlled manner, keeping your breathing relaxed and even throughout. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee, making sure to perform strong contractions to isolate the obliques. Fully extending the legs increases the intensity of this reliable exercise. Do 15 reps on each side.
  • Crunches (see Photo 5): Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent at about a 60-degree angle, your fingertips behind the ears, and your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat. use your upper abs to lift your head, neck, and upper shoulders about 30 degrees off the ground. Pause and return to the starting position. For a more intense crunch, place a rolled towel under the small of your back—this will force your abs into a pre-stretched position, increasing the difficulty. Do 20 reps.
Stephen Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and NPTI-certified personal trainer. He trains his clients at Gold's Gym in San Francisco's Castro district.