I tried this 10-minute bodyweight workout to blast my abs and obliques — here’s what happened

a photo of a man performing a side plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might doubt that a 10-minute abs workout can truly be effective, but give this session a try and I promise the doubts will disappear before you hit the halfway mark.

Unless you’re already in impeccable shape and sporting a six-pack (and I am certainly not), it doesn’t take long to exhaust the abs and get them burning, and 10 minutes is more than enough to work the abs and obliques from all angles.

The workout has been created by fitness trainer Fraser Wilson and is designed to maximize time under tension for your core muscles by doing several exercises back to back to tire your abs and obliques. Make it a regular part of your workout routine and you’ll see the results in terms of a stronger, more defined core.

You don’t need any equipment for the workout aside from one of the best yoga mats, which will make some of the exercises more comfortable and protect your floor from sweat.

Watch Fraser Wilson’s 10-minute abs workout

The workout is found on Fraser Wilson’s YouTube channel and is broken up into four sections, with each targeting a different area of your core. The first section works the lower abs, the second targets the obliques, the third hits the upper abs and the fourth is designed to challenge the deeper abs. In between sections you get a short break to stretch your abs.

There are four exercises in each of the first three sections of the workout, and then three in the last, which includes a double-length set of stomach vacuums to finish the session. You do each move for 30 seconds and don’t take any breaks during a section — the only rest you get is in between sections.

I slipped the workout into my lunch break for a quick core crunch, here are my takeaways.

The sections approach works well

By targeting a different area of the abs in each section Wilson’s workout helps you to challenge a specific set of muscles effectively in just two minutes. Then, when you start the next section you’re moving on to use different muscles which are fresher, so you can go all-out again.

At the end of the four sections I could feel that the muscles throughout my core had worked hard and I was able to push hard throughout the session. Sometimes with abs workouts I find my last few sets are ineffective because the muscles involved are already exhausted by what’s come before, so I will try and break up workouts to target different parts of the core in turn in the future.

You have to transition fast

To get the most from this workout you can’t take your time with transitions, either between exercises or when switching sides for some of the exercises.

With only 10 minutes of exercise to do in total it would be very easy to accidentally (or intentionally) make the workout less effective by slowly changing between moves and cutting down the 30-second work periods by five seconds. Don’t do that; make the most of your 10-minute workout.

Check out the moves before you start

The fact you have to change so fast between moves means you don’t really get a chance to check out Fraser’s form for each exercise. I wish I’d scrolled through the workout to see what moves were involved before I started.

There were a couple like the side oblique crunch that I wasn’t sure how to do so I started those sets slowly. Taking two minutes to scan the 15 moves you’ll be doing is worthwhile.

The lower and upper abs sections are the hardest

The lower abs section involves moves like leg raises and flutters, which I always find challenging, while the upper abs section has sit-ups and crunches.

I felt the targeted muscles burn a lot more in those sections than the obliques section, which has twisting exercises, and the deep abs section, which is planks and stomach vacuums. Speaking of stomach vacuums…

I’d swap out the stomach vacuums next time

The last two work periods in the workout both involve doing stomach vacuums, a move I’ve never done before and one I’m still a bit confused by. It didn’t seem to really hit the abs much, perhaps because I wasn’t doing it correctly, but I don’t think I can scoop out my stomach to the extent that Wilson does in the video.

Next time I do the workout I’ll probably add in two more isometric core exercises to hit the deep abs during this section, like the hollow-body hold and the reverse plank, which I’ve always found a good challenge.

You could double up the workout

The 10-minute session will leave your abs aching, but because of the way the different sections target the different areas of the core you could repeat it for a second round without it feeling impossible from the start. Or, if you fancy something different, you give one of these three 10-minute abs workouts a go instead.

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Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

He runs 50-80 miles a week and races regularly with his club, which gives him a lot of opportunity to test out running gear: he has tested and reviewed hundreds of pairs of running shoes, as well as fitness trackers, running watches, sports headphones, treadmills, and all manner of other kit. Nick is also a qualified Run Leader in the UK.