I'll admit it: I did not know what I was getting myself into when I hit play on this Cirque du Soleil "Extreme Abs Workout." Wait, I hear you saying; Cirque du Soleil? Yep, the workout was actually created by Cirque performers and NASM-certified personal trainers Elizabeth and Guilhem Cauchois. According to the YouTube description, this routine is known as the unicycle workout, because Cirque artists in the show Totem gather backstage during a unicycle act while Elizabeth leads this fast, advanced abs workout. Cirque du Soleil performers are athletes of the highest caliber, so whatever they're calling "extreme" and "advanced" is definitely going to be a challenge.
I tried the workout for myself, and from about the third minute up until the last exercise, I wasn't sure if I could finish. "Challenge" was an understatement! The routine is structured so you do 10 reps of each exercise, followed by a 10-second isometric hold. Then it's on to the next exercise, aka there are no breaks. I wholeheartedly embraced the modifications, paused the video three different times, and still felt like my abs were about to give out. The pace stays steady, and there are no high-impact or jumping movements, but the nonstop work had me panting by the end.
All you need are a mat and your bodyweight to try Elizabeth and Guilhem's workout. The exercises are all done on your back, so make sure to press your lower back into the ground to get the most engagement in your core (and avoid injury). And grab a sweat towel and some water — trust me, you'll need both.
Image Source: Getty / Westend61