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5-Minute Beginner Ab Workout (No Equipment)

Build strong core muscles at home with this no equipment, 5-minute beginner ab workout! Target the upper abs, lower abs and obliques; and build foundational core strength used to stabilize your body during daily activities.

The perfect ab workout for beginners or for anyone rebuilding abs after baby or after an abdominal surgery.  

Strong core muscles are important for beginners and advanced athletes alike. A weak core requires other muscle groups to overcompensate and can often lead to injury; and most commonly low back pain.

Add these five ab exercises for beginners onto any strength training workout. I suggest doing this beginner core workout 1-3 times a week. 

5 Minute Beginner Ab Workout | knee down side plank

5-Minute Beginner Ab Workout

This five-minute ab workout is effective because all five ab exercises use the core to stabilize your body as you move your arms and legs in different directions — from toe taps to dead bug and planks.

AND that’s exactly what the core is designed to do — stabilize your body as you move your arms and legs.

This bodyweight, beginner ab workout is a quick an effective way to build core strength at home.

Workout Equipment:

None, just your bodyweight.

Workout Instructions:

I’ll lead you through all five beginner ab exercises, offering form cues, modifications and motivation. 

It looks like this: 

  • 5 beginner ab exercises.
  • 40 seconds per ab exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest between exercises.
  • You only do each ab exercise one time (no repeats), but you always have the option to repeat this workout x 2 sets to make this a 10-minute ab workout.
Bent Knee Leg Drops or Bent Knee Leg Lowers | Beginner Ab Workout

5 Ab Exercises for Beginners

  1. Lying Bent Knee Toe Taps
  2. Dead Bug
  3. Knee Down Side Plank (with optional toe touch), Right
  4. Beginner Plank on Knees to Forearm Plank on Toes
  5. Knee Down Side Plank (with optional toe touch), Left

*Note, these 5 core exercises for beginners are safe for Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation after pregnancy) as long as you DO NOT see any coning or doming of the Abdominis. If you’re looking for more ab exercises to heal Diastasis Recti try these 8 Best Diastasis Recti Exercises

1. Lying Bent Knee Toe Taps

Targets: Transverse abdomen (deep core muscles below your rectus abdomen or six pack ab muscles), lower abs and hip flexors.

TRAINER TIP: The closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. And the farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this exercise will be. This is also true for exercise #2 below (dead bug). 

Lying Bent Knee Toe Taps | lying on your back, slowly lower one toe to the ground, then repeat with the other toe.

How to do Lying Bent Knee Toe Taps:

  1. Start lying on your back, core engaged, pressing your lower back into the mat.
  2. Lift your knees to a 90 degree angle (knees bent at 90 degrees).
  3. Imagine there is a string connecting your hipbones. To activate your transverse abdominal muscles pull your hip bones towards one another.
  4. Then, with control, tap your right toe to the mat. Return to the starting position and then tap your left toe to the mat.
  5. Alternate tapping each toe to the mat without letting your low back ‘pop off’ the mat.

2. Dead Bug

Targets: Rectus abdominis (six pack ab muscles), obliques, and transverse abs.

The deadbug is a great beginner ab exercise because it’s easy on your neck and back (both neck and back stay resting on the mat throughout this exercise).

core exercise dead bug | beginner ab workout

How to do the Dead Bug core exercise:

  1. Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat.
  2. Lift your knees to form a 90 degree angle (knees stacked on top of hips), and extend your hands straight overhead.
  3. Contract your ab muscles as you extend your right arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your left leg. Return to the starting position.
  4. Then extend your left arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your right leg. Return to the starting position.

3. Knee Down Side Plank (With Optional Toe Touch)

Targets: Obliques, transverse abs, upper abs and lower abs.

Perform the knee down side plank on both the right and left side of the body.

knee down side plank | ab workout for beginners

How to do Knee Down Side Plank with Optional Toe Touch:

  1. Start in a modified side plank or knee down side plank. Right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow and right knee on the ground with left leg and arm extended long.
  2. Option to hold this knee down side plank position, engage your core and obliques, and lift your hips.
  3. Or add a toe touch by pulling your left toe towards your left hand; they should meet near shoulder height.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  5. Start on the ride side, then repeat on the other side of the body.

4. Beginner Plank on Knees to Forearm Plank on Toes 

Targets: The entire core from head to toe including — deep transverse abs, upper abs, lower abs, and lower back.

This ‘rolling knee’ plank strengthens EVERY core muscle, gives you a stronger low back, and teaches you how to scale from a beginner plank on knees to a forearm plank on toes.

Beginner Plank on Knees to Forearm Plank on Toes

How to do do a Beginner Plank on Knees to a Forearm Plank on Toes: 

  1. Start in a beginner plank on your knees — forearms on the mat, shoulders stacked over elbows, both knees on the mat and toes connected to the mat. Straight line from head to tailbone.
  2. If you are able to do the modified plank on knees without any coning or doming of your midsection scale up to a full forearm plank on your toes. First, lift your right knee of the mat, straightening through your right leg. Then lift your leg knee off the mat.
  3. Hold the forearm plank, both legs extended on toes for a moment; then slowly return one knee to the mat at a time.
  4. Continue this ‘rolling knee’ plank pattern.
dead bug ab exercise | Best ab exercises for beginners

1. What ab muscles does this beginner core workout target?

  • Upper Rectus Abdominis (the upper abs)
  • Lower Rectus Abdominis (the lower abs)
  • Internal Obliques and External Obliques (side abs, along the sides of your body)
  • Transverse Abdominis (your deepest core muscles)

2. How often should I do ab workouts?

You should do ab and core workouts 3-4 times per week for best results.

That said, if you do my workouts or follow any of my free home workout plans, you’ll get lots of “sneaky” ab exercises built into every workout.

By “sneaky”, I mean that we aren’t doing tons of crunches, but rather engaging our core in a variety of full body strength training movements and unilateral exercises (forcing your to engage your core as you focus on one side of the body at a time).

3. Can I do this ab workout during pregnancy?

Every body (and every pregnancy) is so different. And I always recommend checking with your doctor or midwife if any exercises feel uncomfortable for you.

That said, YES this ab workout is safe for the first and second trimesters of pregnancy; as long as you are still comfortable lying on your back.

If you’re not comfortable lying on your back you an always substitute one of these pregnancy-safe ab exercises. I suggest: 

4. Is this beginner ab workout safe for diastasis recti (abdominal separation)? 

YES! This is a great postpartum ab workout!

A good rule of thumb is to avoid any ab exercise that causes coning or doming of the midsection.

If you try this beginner ab workout and notice your abs coning (coming to a point), scale back to this Diastasis Recti Ab Workout.

On the other hand, if you can complete these 5 beginner ab exercises with ease, try scaling up to this 10-Minute Lower Ab Workout. 

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