Regardless of your fitness level or exercise experience, resistance bands are a versatile and effective tool for building sculpted abs. Whether using them at home or packing them for a trip, resistance bands are a lightweight, time-saving, and portable option for pumping out quick, efficient workouts. Also, they’re fantastic for squeezing in workouts while on the go and targeting specific areas of your body, like your core. If you’re looking to shrink your belly and improve your core strength, we spoke with Tony Horton, CPT, celebrity fitness trainer and founder of supplement line PowerLife, who delivers a top-notch resistance band ab workout you can crush in just five minutes.
Strengthening your core is good for you in more ways than one. That’s because your core is in the middle section of your body, consisting of your lower back, abdomen, hips, and pelvis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ab exercises train your core muscles to work together, allowing for better balance and stability—two essential aspects of longevity and performing daily activities. Moreover, ab workouts can be done without expensive gym memberships or exercise equipment. Instead, all you need is a flat, comfortable surface (like a mat or carpet) and a handful of killer ab exercises in your wheelhouse that will build up your core strength and melt belly fat.
To improve your overall strength, balance, and quality of life, read on for Horton’s five-minute resistance band ab workout to help sculpt rock-solid abs while boosting your core strength. Then, after you’re through, check out Melt Lower Belly Fat With These Bodyweight Exercises.
First up is the banded side plank. While ab exercises like crunches and regular planks target abdominal muscles in the front of your core, a side plank works your obliques, the muscles running along the side of your abdomen. In addition, using resistance bands adds an element of heightened intensity to help scorch your ab muscles.
“Loop the resistance band around your ankles and get into a plank position. Move to your right side so your weight is on your right hand and place your left hand on your hip and raise your left leg, keeping it straight and flexing your foot,” instructs Horton. “Make sure the band is stretched tightly. Hold for 30 seconds then return to plank for 15 seconds. Then, rotate to the other side.” For an extra challenge, remove your hand from your hip, and raise it as you hold your leg up. Perform two sets of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off in a plank position on each side.
Next up is the classic Russian twist, an exercise reportedly utilized by soldiers in the Russian military, and that’s how its name came to be. The movement and its name have endured the test time for its efficacy in strengthening core muscles. “This move focuses on rotation so it hits the obliques in a very effective way,” says Horton.
Begin by sitting in a V-sit position with your knees bent and your heels on the floor. Loop the resistance band around your feet, hold the ends in your hands, and keep your wrists together. Next, twist your torso by bringing your hands from hip to hip while keeping the lower body as stable as possible. If you can, float your feet off the floor for added resistance. Otherwise, keep your heels planted on the floor. Complete two sets of 10 reps per side for 20 reps in one minute.
Flutter Kick Crunches
For targeting your lower abs, Horton recommends banded flutter kick crunches since they isolate the muscles in the lower part of your core to balance out crunches and sit-ups that target your mid and upper abdomen.
“Wrap the resistance band around your feet, and lie flat on your back. Next, pull the resistance band and lift your right leg then your left leg as you crunch up slightly,” Horton explains. Hold for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off two times.
Another excellent banded exercise, the bicycle crunch will give your upper abs a serious workout while simultaneously strengthening your obliques.
To start, Horton instructs, “Loop the resistance band around your thighs, and lie flat on your back. Bring your legs into a tabletop position, and place your hands at your head with your elbows out as you slowly lift the head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor. Push one leg out while bringing the other leg in toward your chest. Bring your elbow to the opposite knee at the same time, working to lift your shoulder blades off the ground using your abdominal muscles.” Do this movement for a total of 20 seconds, then take a breather for 10 seconds. Repeat for two sets.
The final exercise in this five-minute resistance band ab workout is the bird dog. “This exercise not only engages your core but also works your hamstrings and shoulders,” says Horton.
Begin by getting down on your hands and knees. Anchor one end of the band around the arch of one foot, and hold the opposite end of the band in your opposite hand. Keep your spine long and avoid arching your lower back, which may cause discomfort or injury. At the same time, extend the banded arm and the banded knee in one smooth, controlled motion. Do one set of 20 reps on each side in one minute.