Work your abs every other day for best results.
You might think toning and sculpting your abdominal muscles would take hours of exercise a week, but you can actually achieve a stronger core and stomach in much less time with five-minute ab workouts. Regularly working your stomach muscles makes them stronger, creating a more toned appearance and providing support for your back. Having a strong core enables you to easily perform everyday activities, such as bending and lifting. There are a lot of benefits to a short power-packed ab routine performed every other day. Unfortunately, burning a lot of calories is not one of them.
A Five-Minute Ab Workout
The promise of great results in just five minutes is appealing and popular. There are five-minute ab workouts available on DVD, via smart phone apps and accessible on-line through video-sharing services. Typically, an instructor will model several stomach exercises, which are usually performed for 30 to 60 seconds each. You might do a half-minute of oblique crunches to work your sides followed immediately by one minute of crunches, one minute reverse crunches and one minute each of frog leg bends and parallel leg lifts. It is easy to create your own customized workout to perform at home.
Be Realistic: Less Than 50 Calories Burned
Realistically, abdominal exercises can be difficult to perform for more than 30 seconds to a minute, particularly if you are just starting out. As hard and tough as those five-minute ab workouts may be to do, chances are you'd burn about the same amount of calories just waiting for tickets at the movies for half an hour. Sadly, vigorous calisthenics -- including crunches and sit-ups -- only burn around 40 to 45 calories in five minutes. According to Harvard Medical School, that's almost exactly what you'd burn standing in line for 30 minutes.
The Muscles You'll Build
Working hard or working fast is not nearly as important as having realistic expectations about your fitness program. A vigorous five-minute series of abdominal exercises won't torch calories. However, they will help to build your rectus abdominis (the muscle at the top of your stomach just beneath your ribs that gives you a six-pack), the oblique muscles (along the sides of your stomach area) and your transverse abdominis (the deep muscle running across the bottom of your stomach).
Every Other Day is Key
The American Council on Exercise recommends you wait a day between working out the same muscles to give them a chance to rest, repair and rebuild. That means taking the word "daily" out of the equation. If you decide to add five-minute ab workouts to your fitness regime, do them on alternate days, three to four times a week. For optimal health, try to incorporate 150 minutes of higher calorie-burning activities into your week, like walking, jogging or swimming. Be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning any new exercise program.