When you think 'abs' you don't necessarily think 'cardio'. But, when exercises are combined one after the other, the intensity of the workout will raise your heart rate right into the fat burning zone. Though it's only ten minutes, if you quickly move from one activity to the next, you'll feel yourself really getting into the groove. It's important to remember, though, if you're tired and need a break, or have trouble executing an exercise properly, always stop and listen to your body's cues. However, don't give up just because your mind tells you you can't do it!
Lay down an exercise or yoga mat and pull open the stopwatch app on your phone (often you can find this under the 'clock' section). You're going to begin with a two minute plank. While this sounds intimidating, it's more a test of your mental ability. If you strongly believe you can't hold the center plank for two minutes, do one minute first and intersperse the other minute in the middle of the workout when you're ready. Your palms should be flush against the mat, but if you find that difficult, clasping them together will enable your chest muscles to help stabilize your body. Hold this for 2 minutes.
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Next, move onto the side plank. You'll do one on your right side for thirty seconds, then switch and repeat on your left side. It's important to keep your head, spine, and legs in line. You'll want to place one foot on top of the other and gently lift your hips up. This exercise not only strengthens your core, but will aide in keeping your lower back stable during other more intense movements.
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Next, jump straight into one minute of crunches. Raise your legs and cross them with your knees bent slightly greater than a 90 degree angle. With your hands next to your ears and your elbows bent, crunch upwards towards your knees, then lower back down. You are four minutes in and you're feeling great!
Move on to one minute of butterfly crunches. Place your heels together while laying down, and pull your feet towards your core. When you crunch upwards, draw your legs towards your arms, forcing your whole body to crunch. Do this exercise slowly so you can really feel your abdominals working.
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Next you're going to lay all the way back and place your hands slightly below your hips. Raise your feet 6-8 inches off of the ground and begin what is called 'flutter kicks' you'll raise one leg up then drop it while raising the other. Repeat this for a full minute at a steady pace. If you find it is exceedingly difficult, try raising your legs higher to decrease the intensity.
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Move on to another exercise immediately upon finishing your flutter kicks. This time, you'll be doing what some refer to as 'leg lifts'. With your hands in the same position (slightly under the sides of your hips) place your feet together. Raise your legs upwards while lifting your hips slightly off the floor. Do this as slowly as you'd like but make sure to complete one minute!
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Jump right back into another minute of crunches that you completed in the fourth minute of the workout. With your knees bent and your legs crossed, crunch up towards your thighs while pulling your legs towards your chest ever so slightly.
Now, grab a weight ball or medicine ball. If you are just getting started with abdominal workouts, I'd recommend starting at 4-6 lbs and eventually working your way up to 12lbs. With your feet tucked firmly under the bar in front of you, lay back lifting the ball above you with straight arms. Sit up while raising the ball directly in front and above you. Repeat this motion for a full minute. If you find you need more of a challenge, try lowering the ball behind the top of your head as you go down so your arms are outstretched above you (in line with your back), but don't touch the ball to the ground!
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Sweating yet? Jump right into the last exercise, another center plank for a minute. Once you complete this, you're done! Lower your abdominals to the mat and push up onto your elbow to stretch out your abs. If you are flexible enough, move from your elbows to your hands, pushing your hips into the floor to get a nice stretch through your abdominals and lower back muscles. Now, stretch any other muscles that feel tired, inflexible, or overworked, and bask in your accomplishment!