I've never been the type of lady who effortlessly has a six pack. In fact, I'm a little suspicious about the ones that do have a chiseled midsection. Still, after recently penning an open letter to my hidden abs (I know they're in there somewhere), I had a moment of pause. If I were to spend some more time doing ab work, would I see a result? Or would I continue on in this life with an incognito core?
I knew there was only one way to find out, and that's how the self-imposed 10-minutes-a-day ab challenge was born. The framework: do 10 minutes of ab work every day for two weeks, no rest required. The moves, which would be mostly bodyweight so that I couldn't use a lack of equipment as an excuse, could vary from day to day. The only rule? Stick with it. While I'm not going to present to you a single 10-minute ab workout (since it changed daily), here are the four lessons I learned during my 2-week challenge:
You can do anything for 10 minutes
I noticed by the end of this challenge that my pants fit differently.
If you do it in the right format, that is. There wasn't a rhyme or reason why I chose to do 10 minutes of ab work daily, aside from the fact that this amount of time felt attainable. When I started my self-imposed challenge, I decided to do five different exercises each day. I'd perform each movement for one minute, then repeat the entire sequence for 10 minutes of total work. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, I quickly realised that this felt a little daunting, and the 10 minutes weren't moving along as quickly as I would've liked. So I started to break it up into 30-second intervals. By switching positions or movements every 30 seconds, I felt like I couldn't get bored. Staving off boredom meant I was more likely to stick with the challenge than getting up off my living room floor and calling it quits. If I hadn't made this adjustment, I probably wouldn't have been able to get through the whole 10 minutes every single day.
There are an endless number of ab exercises
Planks (there are a zillion of these alone), crunches, sit-ups, toe touches, oblique side bends — the list goes on. For the purposes of this challenge, which I completed in my living room 10 out of the 14 days, the only tools I used were two two-pound weights and a foam roller. And trust me, I had plenty to do without touching a barbell, plates, medicine ball, or kettlebell.
With all of this considered, I'd start and end most days the same way: 90 seconds of planks (30 seconds high, 30 seconds on each side). Depending on my mood, I'd add in a hip tap or dip to add an extra level of difficulty. It allowed me to get right into the swing of things without having to over think it. Still, I'd approach each session with a rough idea of the exercises I wanted to incorporate. If I felt stuck (not ideal since the goal is to do the ab exercises continuously and exhaust the muscle group), I'd default to crunches or butterfly sit-ups.
Bodyweight exercises can make you just as sore as weighted exercises
My stomach hurt when I laughed, which was a solid indicator that I'd been neglecting my core for too long.
If we're being honest, at day three, I got to the point where I wondered if I should continue with this. My stomach hurt when I laughed (and this was only from doing 10 minutes each day), which was a solid indicator that I'd been neglecting my core for too long. By minute five of each day's workout, I wanted to stop. Without fail. Even as I felt my stamina growing throughout the two week challenge, I'd notice I'd check my Apple Watch at the halfway point of pretty much every session.
I'll stick with my high-waisted pants
Even if I were to emerge out of this challenge with a how-did-this-happen-in-14-days six-pack, I don't think I'll ever rock my abs with low-waisted jeans or pants. For me, high-waisted tights, jeans, and bottoms in general just make me feel a bit sexier. With the slimmest part of my body at my hip height, the higher rise is more figure flattering. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.
Yet, I noticed by the end of this challenge that my pants fit differently (some of them didn't really fit too well to begin with, to be honest). Do I credit the ab work? Not entirely. A really hectic schedule and a shift in my workouts as a whole — I added more strength training — contributed to a bit of weight loss, which made me feel less bloated and more confident. But even if it's tiring and even if it's boring, I'd say these 10 minutes a day that I'm taking for myself and for my body are a total win.