7-Minute Core Exercises for a Quick Targeted Workout

Seven-minute workouts are a thing of beauty because they’re designed to meet your needs. Seven-minute workouts know you’re busy. They realize that between work, parenting, and everyday life, you’ve hardly got a moment to spare — and when you do come across some much-needed free time, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour sweating. But seven-minute workouts also understand that you want to stay active. You care about building strength and having energy — you just don’t have endless time to dedicate to exercise. Thankfully, you don’t need endless time. By carving just seven minutes out of each day, you can reliably work activity into your life — without sacrificing all the other things you want and need to do.

Mix and match these five foundational core moves to give your abs some love — adapt and modify based on what your goals are and how you’re feeling today.


Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet pressing into the floor. Then, straighten your legs so they’re hovering in the air. (For a greater challenge, straighten your legs so that they’re hovering just above the ground. To make things easier, lift them higher in the air.) At the same time, straighten your arms in front of you and lift your shoulders off the ground. (To make sure you’re not putting undue pressure on your neck, tuck your chin in just a bit — so that your neck and back are forming one straight line. Engage your upper back and squeeze your shoulders together to further alleviate pressure in the neck.)

Once you’re in this position, you should feel a little heat in your core. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Then, engage your core to lift your body up until you’re sitting up straight. As you do this, you can let your feet touch the ground. Once you’ve come to a standard seat, slowly roll your back onto the ground until you’re lying down again. (This can be its own core workout if you’re willing to do it slowly enough.)

Do 10 roll-ups to complete a set.


Start in a tabletop position. You’ll want your hands pressing firmly into the ground, directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees pressing into the ground directly underneath your hips. Then, engage your core as you step each of your feet back. Once you’re in your plank, your legs should be straight, and there should be a straight line running from the base of your spine to the top of your head. Engage your core, your upper back, and your thighs. And tuck your chin to alleviate undue pressure in the neck.

Hold each plank for 20-60 seconds to complete one set.

Bicycle Crunches

Start by lying down on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your elbows to bring your hands behind your neck, and lift your chest off the ground. (Be sure to tuck your chin, engage your upper back, and squeeze your shoulders together to alleviate undue pressure in the neck. And keep your elbows spread wild so you’re not pulling on your neck.) Once you’re there, bring your left knee in toward your chest, and twist your upper body until your right elbow touches your left knee. Then, come back through center as you stretch your left leg out, bring your right knee in, and twist so that your left elbow touches your right knee. Be sure to keep your chest elevated between each crunch.

Spend 30-60 seconds doing bicycle crunches to complete one set.

Tabletop Hovers

Start in a tabletop position. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be hip-width apart. Press firmly into your hands, knees, and the tops of your feet as you engage your core and lift your knees off the ground.

Hold each tabletop hover for 20-60 seconds to complete one set.

Mountain Climbers

Start in a standard plank. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your feet should be stretched straight behind you, about hip-width apart. Then, lift one leg off the ground, bend your knee, and bring your knee into your chest. Then, step it back out to get back into your plank. Then, bring your other knee into your chest. Once you’ve gotten there, step it back out to get back into your plank. (You can do these mountain climbers as quickly or slowly as you see fit. Faster mountain climbers are a great way to work a little cardio into your routine, but slower ones are still challenging!)

Continue alternating knees for 30-60 seconds to complete one set.

A version of this story was published July 2021.

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