20-Minute Workout for Defined Abs

Posted by Otis Skincare on

We know that looking your best isn’t just about having great skin (although it helps!)

If your core is strong - with your abs nicely defined – you’re going to look and feel more confident. Both with and without your clothes!

A strong core gives you great posture, better balance and it protects your back.

And you just hold yourself better.

Whilst you need to put the work in to get them - this targeted workout will get your abs nicely defined in no time!

A series of 8 super-effective ab exercises that can all be done at home. In minimal time. And with fast results.

OK… let’s go!


 Handsome muscular man doing abs workout in red shorts

You need to put the work in to get them - but this targeted workout will get your abs nicely defined in no time!


When it comes to ab exercises there are a lot of options (we counted over 70 of them!)

And with research from Harvard showing that sit-ups are not the holy grail of ab workouts that we once thought, where do you start?


Which ab workout will give you the best results? 

We know you don’t have the time to spend experimenting to find which ones work the best. So we’ve done the research for you.

Below are the 8 best, most effective exercises – so that you can work your abs anywhere.

Because, just like taking care of your skin, the most effective routine is the one that you actually do!  So we’ve made it as easy as possible to follow.

No excuses!


A workout that hits it all 

This program targets all the muscles integral in defining your core:

  • your ab muscles (the rectus abdominis as well as the deeper transversus abdominis muscles),
  • your obliques (both inner and external obliques)
  • as well as your lower back muscles (essential for mobility, flexibility and standing more erect).

They’ll sculpt your core and define your abdominals, whatever your age.


Amazing abs at every age

Looking younger isn’t just about using anti-wrinkle cream!

The way that you hold yourself has a huge effect on how young you look too.

As our bodies age we have a tendency to get a paunch in our mid-section. As well as developing weaker posture, leading to a bad back and less flexibility. All of which makes you look older.

But whatever your age a strong core leads to:

  • A flat stomach
  • Improved upright posture
  • A strong back
  • And core strength – which gives you more energy and flexibility

Adding up to the ultimate secret of youth - more confidence!

(And for more anti aging secrets check out: “Look younger: Your complete anti aging plan”)


Handsome mature man with defined abs Instagram: @lonobrazilofficial


ACTION PLAN: Amazing Abs at Every Age 

With all these exercises the key is to take it slow and steady, keeping tension on your muscles throughout.

The more you move with intention and control, the better the results will be. 

Take it steady to start with. Work up to the recommended number of sets. The most important thing is to do them with perfect form, then you can ramp up the number of repetitions.


Starting with the most effective ab exercise (according to the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University) …



Sets 3 Reps 12 

Out of all the ab exercises the bicycle crunch stimulates the rectus abdominis muscle the most. This is the muscle that gives you a six-pack!

It also activates your obliques and lower abs.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and parallel. 
  2. Place your hands lightly behind your head, keeping your elbows wide.
  3. Using the strength of your abs, exhale and contract your core to lift your shoulders off the floor (at the same time avoid pulling on your neck). 
  4. Now float your right leg up to 90-degrees and extend your bottom leg straight out to hover a few inches off the floor. 
  5. Rotate your torso towards your right leg, trying to connect your left elbow over to the right knee. 
  6. Using your obliques, the breath and a ton of control, rotate opposite elbow to opposite knee to create your alternating crunches. This is one rep.




Reps Hold each lift for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.

This move strengthens your back, increases core strength and works your glutes and hamstrings.

It’s a great compliment to ab exercises that concentrate on your core, as well as preventing any back pain that comes from sitting in front of a computer all day.

How to do it:

  1. Lying on your stomach, extend your legs straight and your arms outstretched in front of you.
  2. Keeping your head in a neutral position (looking toward the floor) raise both your arms and legs at the same time so that they are 10-15cm off the floor. Feel as if you're reaching far away from your body with your hands and feet.
  3. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds then lower back to the starting position. You should feel your lower back, glutes and hamstrings working in the hold position.

You shouldn’t feel any strain on your neck at all.

Easier variation: If the full Superman feels too tough to start with try raising your right arm and left leg at the same time and then alternate. Or lifting just your arms or your legs.




Sets 3 Reps 12 

V-ups focus on your upper and lower abs simultaneously.

And what makes them super effective is that you get the benefit of two exercises - crunches and leg raises - at the same time.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back on a mat.
  2. Keeping your legs straight and your core tight. With an exhale lift your upper body and legs simultaneously to make a V shape with your body.
  3. Ensure that you keep your back straight throughout.
  4. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 seconds and with an inhale go back to the resting position.




Sets 3 Reps 12 

The Russian twist is great for building your shoulders as well as strengthening your core. It also helps with rotational movement, making it popular with athletes.

Although it looks simple it requires a lot of strength to do it correctly. 

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in front of you.
  2. Hold the weight with both hands, arms straight in front of your chest.
  3. Lean back so that your body is at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Twist to the right, letting your arms move over to your right side (but staying in line with your chest).
  5. Then twist to the left, letting your arms follow to the left side of your body. That’s one rep.




Reps Hold each lift for 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.

This move looks easy, but it's a really effective way to work your core, and switch on your glutes too.

Your glutes are one of your body's most powerful muscles and weak glutes can cause your pelvis to tilt forward. This puts stress on your lower spine and pushes your lower abdomen outward, making your belly stick out.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat hip-width apart and parallel. 
  2. Place your arms by your sides.
  3. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes tightly.
  4. Then raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  5. Pause for five seconds keeping your core tight and continuing to squeeze your glutes.
  6. Then lower your body back to the starting position.

Form guide: Your torso and hips should move as one unit. Let your glutes do the work, not your lower back or hamstrings. 




Sets work up to 3 Reps 10-12 

A reverse crunch works your rectus abdominis, transvers abdominis and your external obliques.

It gives you the same benefits as a traditional crunch, but because your neck and most of your back stays on the ground, there’s no strain on your neck (and it’s a lot easier on your spine).

It also lets you focus and target your abs more effectively than the traditional crunch.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a mat, with your knees bent and your feet flat.  Keep your arms at your sides with your palms down.
  2. Lift your feet off the ground and raise your thighs until they’re vertical and your knees are at a 90° angle.
  3. Exhale and contract your abs to bring your knees up towards your chest and raise your hips and lower back off the floor.
  4. Hold for a beat in this position, then slowly lower your feet back to the floor until they touch the ground.
  5. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions. Do one set to start with, then increase as you get stronger.

Form guide: Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees throughout the movement.

Push into the ground with your hands to help you balance.

Move slowly with complete control. This keeps your abs under tension and prevents you from putting strain on your lower back.

Always protect your lower back when lowering your legs by not overarching. 




Sets 3 x 30 seconds 

One of the most basic ab exercises, but one of the best! When you focus on engaging your core and squeezing your entire body, this ab exercise can have a massive impact. As well as your abs, the Plank targets your back, quads and glutes.

How to do it:

  1. Lying face down on the ground, prop yourself up on your forearms and the balls of your feet.
  2. Keep your elbows aligned underneath your shoulders, your forearms parallel to one another and your hands balled up in fists.
  3. Make sure your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
  4. Tense your abdominal muscles and hold this position for 10-30 seconds per set.

Form guide:  The key to an effective plank is to squeeze your entire body—quads, glutes, and core —as tight as possible.

Advanced version: Try a side plank. Prop yourself up on one elbow, then raise your hips off the ground to create a straight line from your feet to your shoulders.




Duration 2 mins 

Adding leg raises to the plank position can boost the intensity.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a high plank position on your mat, with your arms straight and your abs engaged.
  2. Keep your whole body in a straight line as before.
  3. Lift your right leg up and hold for one breath. Exhale and lower the leg. Repeat with your left leg.
  4. Continue alternating legs for up to 2 minutes.




Sets 2-3 Reps 30

Mountain climbers are an effective way of strengthening your arms, back, shoulders, core and legs.

And another benefit of using these muscles all at once is an increased heart rate, which will help you burn calories.

So they’re great for building cardio endurance, core strength, and agility!

How to do it:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your arms straight.
  2. Without letting your hips sag, draw one knee up and bring it across towards the opposite elbow.
  3. Return to the start, then repeat with your other leg. That’s one rep.
  4. Keep reps fast but controlled.

Form guide: Keep your hips down for the entire motion.


Handsome man with defined abs after a cardio workout

Add 30 minutes of cardio to your routine to lose any belly fat


How to lose belly fat

Sadly no abs workout will ever lead to a flat stomach if it’s not accompanied by adding at least 30 minutes of cardio to your routine and eating healthily. 

We've listed the sports that will give you the quickest weight-loss results and the most health benefits here – "The 5 best sports to lose body fat and build muscle".

And as Tim Ferriss says “Abs are made in the kitchen”.

The nutrition side of things is just as important as the exercises you do.

We’ve got the lowdown on the smartest dietary choices here : "Lose Belly Fat FAST: The Smarter Way To a Flatter Stomach".

And more about healthy food choices here:


Great for your abs… and great for your skin too!

And if you're tempted to try the ketogenic diet, checkout : "The Keto Diet and Your Skin: What You Need to Know".



Is it OK to do ab exercises every day?


Unlike most muscle groups, your ab muscles are designed to work often and typically have lots of endurance so they respond well to high reps. They’re also a muscle group that is readily improving and adapting. So unless you’re adding significant resistance to your ab workouts, you should be fine to complete ab exercises every day.


The Takeaway 

A strong core - with nicely defined abs – is going to make you look and feel more confident.

It gives you great posture, better balance, as well as protecting your back.
And you’ll hold yourself better.

These 8 super-effective ab exercises will sculpt your core and define your abdominals, whatever your age. 


Sets 3 Reps 12 


Reps Hold each lift for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.


Sets 3 Reps 12


Sets 3 Reps 12 


Reps Hold each lift for 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.


Sets work up to 3 Reps 10-12 


Sets 3 x 30 seconds


Duration 2 mins 


Sets 2-3 Reps 30


And to keep your skin in good condition after your workout check out: “8 skincare tips for clear, healthy post-workout skin”.


All that you need to keep looking handsome. 





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