7 Minute Abs? 8 Minute Abs? What About 6 Minute Abs?

March 3, 2008

Have you ever seen the movie, There’s Something About Mary? My favorite scene is where Ben Stiller picks up a psychotic hitchhiker who pitches him on his business idea, 7 Minute Abs. The guy tells him “You walk into video store, you see 8 minute abs sitting there and then you see 7 minute abs on the shelf right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick man?”. Then Ben tells him he would go for the 7. He then says it is a great idea until someone comes up with 6 minute abs. The guys freaks out a bit and his face twitches. It is a great scene! This article is about a very effective ab routine I have been doing the past month. It takes a little less than 10 minutes. I’ll be safe until someone comes up with a “9 minute abs” routine!

[“We guarantee it…If you’re not happy with the first 7 minutes. We are going to send you the extra minute free!”]

Planks…A Simple, Yet Effective Ab Exercise

Anyone who has been reading the posts on this site for a while knows I’m a HUGE fan of the plank exercise. I really enjoy doing the plank exercise, because it is the perfect ab exercise in my opinion. It has been proven to promote good posture and is a good exercise to do to protect against back injuries. Planks also promote even ab development. What I mean by that, is that this exercise seems to work the upper lower and mid part of the abdominal wall evenly. Planks also works all the “detail” muscles well that surround the abs…the obliques, intercostals, etc.

*Here’s a site that has a diagram of both the side plank and regular plank: http://www.abs-exercise-advice.com/plank.html

Why I Prefer Planks Over Other Ab Exercises

Other ab exercises generate contractions by shortening and curling your spine to a certain extent. Over time I believe this shortens the hip flexors and can create bad posture along with back problems for a lot of people. Planks, on the other had, generate strong contractions in a neutral position. Think about this…don’t you want to display defined six pack abs when you are standing or just lying in the sun? Well…planks are teaching your abs to contract hard in this same neutral position. You are basically training your abs to look sharp when your spine is in a natural position (which is most of the time).

Isometric Exercises Are Perfect For the Abs

The last thing you want to do when working your abs is to get puffy and bulky muscle surrounding your mid section. The abs are like any other muscle, they will increase in size if worked in a typical bodybuilding manner. You could do the 3-5 reps that I normally suggest to increase muscle density, I just don’t think it is practical or safe for your spine. Isometric exercises like the planks accomplish the same effect as low rep training…hard contractions without the breaking down of muscle. You will increase muscle density without an increase in muscle size. This is the secret to getting amazing looking abs.

Planks Are an Extremely Time Efficient Way to Work Abs

When you do a 2 minute plank, your muscles are contracting hard the entire 2 minutes. If you did a crunching movement for 2 minutes straight, your abs are only contracted for a portion of that time. I would bet that your abs are in a contracted state for less than 1/3 of the time when doing typical ab exercises. If you look at it this way, planks are about 3 times more efficient. You could do in 10 minutes what it would take you 30 minutes to do in a typical ab workout. Yes…I know this is WAY over simplifying the way exercising affects the body, but you get the point.

My Simple Yet Effective Ab Workout

1) Two minutes doing a right side plank
2) Two minutes doing a left side plank
3) Rest 30 seconds
4) Two minutes doing a regular plank
5) Rest 30-60 seconds
6) Two minutes doing an exercise ball plank

Note: You won’t be able to do this your first time out. You may have to cut it down to a minute for each set if you are a beginner. Once you get more advanced see if you can hold the exercise ball plank for over 2 minutes. Once you get really advanced, see if you can string all of this together without rest. If you don’t have an exercise ball, just do a regular plank on the floor again for 2 minutes. One last thing…2 minutes is going to feel like a lifetime on that last exercise!

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Thanks for reading all these years!


----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Vegasboi February 6, 2009 at 9:08 pm

A year or two for six-pack abs? Hmmm, Ill keep doing the planks and my other exercises, but I think I’ll reevaluate and reprioritize my goals.

I’m currently at 5”11, 140lbs, 5% body fat. Is there anything I can do at this point, short of cosmetic surgery, to take 1-2 inches off a 25 inch waist?

Would, for example, dropping 10-15lbs have any effect on my waist?

atom-ant March 17, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I have heard that you are sore the next day if u had a good workout the day before. I have done your plank exercise many times and really do feel it working and burning during and a bit afterward, but i never wake up in the morning with sore abs. Is this normal for isometric exercises, or should I increase my workout. Thanks a lot!

mickieb March 19, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I have done planks in the past, but just a little different. I never did it on one arm with the body sideways. I’ve always done mine still facing down, but putting one arm at my side, the alternating so its one arm and opposite leg are raised. I also havent done these for 2 min each! So today, along with my other Body Weight Exercises, I added the new Planks. I did fine with the regular plank, but only able to hold the one arm side planks for 1 min. I guess in time, I will improve.

Now Id like to play Devil’s Advocate and throw out a question: as far as comparing the isometric plank and dynamic movement of a crunch, is there some merit to doing crunches, since it uses more range of motion and more of an explosive contraction? I still do crunches (I too hate them) and Planks ( I hate these less). The same question can go the other way for other dynamic exercises, such as rear leg lifts. Is the same or better effect achieved if doing a static hold in position versus the ROM of this exercise? They both burn, but which is better? or do we need to do both types?

The Fit News June 3, 2009 at 2:39 am

Certainly does feel like a lifetime!!

admin June 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm


To gain strength without size…which really is the goal when trying to develop a six pack, you do not want to break down the muscle. Sore muscles typically mean (not always) muscle breakdown. So not being sore after this ab workout is a good sign.


I really enjoy static holds for muscle groups that protect the spine. Both for abs and low back. Crunches will kill your lower back over time…especially if you are crunching hard all the way to the stopping point…your spine compression is what is stopping the movement in many cases. I think crunches work to a certain extent for at least part of the abs, but with a BIG price to pay.


Tyler June 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm


I have a pretty good 6 pack, but they’re kinda big & bulky. If I continue to do the plank workout will they become more ripped?

James June 26, 2009 at 9:21 am

Hello! I have just a quick question, if you don’t mind. Leg raises are done when the back is straight, are they alright to do?

I did three minutes of plank yesterday! *proud*


vacoder July 18, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I have been doing planks and Breath of Dragon for some time. I feel I am ready to try the exercise ball. My question is should one balance his feet or his hands on the ball?


Pawel July 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Anyone have advice on what to place under the elbows for planks? Ive tried a towel and scrapped some skin off from small movements. Like a burn . Thats holding a plank for 2 min 30 seconds. Maybe Ill try doing it on just the mat.

Adam July 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Hey Rusty,

Kudos on having one of the top fitness sites out there. I commented on this post March 18, 2008. I asked for some advice on becoming a fitness trainer and what not. Thanks again for the reply. Since then I have completed one year of college in respect to a Fitness and Health promotion course. I have picked up a lot of good knowledge and understanding of how the body works. An interesting perspective that I have picked up is the “Fight or flight, Rest and Digest”. That everything in respect to our body is designed to function in this manner. I thought it would a fun topic to discuss. I am interested to see what some of the readers have to say about it.

So although I have text books and papers on health and fitness, I still find myself coming back to Fitness Blackbook. It is by far my favourite resource to staying in shape. Since my last post I have dropped about 8% body fat and have increased my overall fitness by 50%. I still remember the first time on the beach when someone said I had a 6-pack. lol. That made all the running, fasting, and circuits worth the effort. Not to mention the close I get to buy now. I fit into everything! lol.

So my question for you is. What exercise do you think develops the ‘V’ the most efficiently? I have reached 5 min planks. My upper abdominals are quite defined. I wish to have just a bit larger lower. I feel planks will not help me accomplish this. Whats your opinion?

Thanks again,

Nove August 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm

hi rusty
what about isometric training for full body?is that works?

Rowan October 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hey! Thanks for this great website and all the useful info.

But I wanted some help with the plank exercise. I maintain a straight line from my feet to my head and can hold this position for 1 minute easily. The problem is that being in that position tends to cut off the circulation to my forearms and hands. This is very uncomfortable. Also, my legs actually got more sore than my abs from doing this exercise. So can you give my any advice?

Sensei October 15, 2009 at 1:33 am

Hello Rusty

I don’t have a six-pack now, but it’s still possible to see my abs. Will doing the planks help me to get them more visible so I’ll get that six-pack, or are the planks only to keep the six-pack ones you have achieved it?

Sensei October 15, 2009 at 1:54 am

And just to add I don’t have a really high fat percentage – around 10% I think.

Parnelly April 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm


I have been doing the Planks for a solid three weeks now and I can definitely testify to their effectiveness for framing the abs.

BUT i don’t really see as much of the improvement in I guess the actual Rectus Abdominis muscle, any suggestions?

Or am I not giving the planks enough time?

Seane August 31, 2010 at 2:03 am

Fantastic. If not anything else I am smiling for the afternoon. That too is good for our health, right!. I love that scene it is memorable and I am just going to play it once a day to remind me to do my exercises. What 6, 7 or 8 minutes, oh I know I am loyal I get an extra minute free. Great article.

hats shoping November 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Will doing the planks help me to get them more visible so I’ll get that six-pack, or are the planks only to keep the six-pack ones you have achieved it?
BUT i don’t really see as much of the improvement in I guess the actual Rectus Abdominis muscle, any suggestions?

Or am I not giving the planks enough time?

passer November 29, 2010 at 3:27 am

@ hats shopping
as mentioned in rusty’s visual impact, do 4 sets of hanging leg raises to failure + 4 sets of ab wheel(with 30-45sec break) to build that six pack, once you got it you can sharpen it and maintain it with planks and renegade rows routine..

Russia January 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Holy shit Rusty I’ve been working up to this routine for a long time. I just finished it completely for the first time and my abs are still spazzing and contracting. Excellent stuff. Thank you!

Furniture February 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

This is one of the most useful Internet resources that I have seen. Thanks! 😉

Kevin - Fitness B&W February 11, 2011 at 2:38 am

My favorite ab/core exercise to date! Thanks!

Bubbles February 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Hi Rusty, Is it important to do the side plank and work the obliques or is it alright to focus on doing the original straight plank? What benefit is there to doing the sie plank as I simply want to focus on getting a toned stomach? Will this make my stomach look odd as the middle would be developed whereas the sides (obliques) would be undeveloped? Thanks in advance, Bubbles

Jack May 10, 2011 at 12:07 am

Hey Rusty,

I utilize planks frequently while working out. What do you think of this article?


Ben October 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hi Rusty,

I’m looking to flatten my stomach and add tone. Will this workout alone achieve this, or will I require to continue with other workouts as well?
If so, what workouts would do this?

Stephanie January 31, 2012 at 11:22 am

If I’m trying to follow your suggestions to not work the muscle to fatigue to avoid bulkiness, wouldn’t I stop before I “can’t hold out one more second”? Or are isometrics different and I can indeed work till I drop?

Also, I know conventional training wisdom says otherwise, but as you’re not mainstream, I thought I’d give it a go: are there any ways you to gain fat in certain areas (ie buttocks, hips, face) while not gaining in others (waist)?

Al June 22, 2012 at 9:53 am

When I do planks, I dont really feel a burn. Yet I am still interested in trying this soon. Is it ok to feel the shaking before I get the burn or should the burn come first. Im very new to doing midsection workouts, so any other tips would greatly be appreciated.

Tony September 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I dont feel any burning sensation in my abs. But I feel it in my forearms and legs.

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