Exercises that do double duty are game-changers when you're looking for a time-efficient way to get in shape. And for people who skimp on stretching, doing this 20-minute ab workout can help you squeeze in time to loosen up tight hips.
You may not realize it, but your abs and hips are intricately connected; along with your lower back, they make up your entire core. When you sit at a desk for long periods of time, your hips become tight. Over time your hip flexors weaken, causing a strain on your lower back. So by strengthening your abs and hips, you can prevent lower back pain, per the Mayo Clinic.
This 20-minute ab workout combines stretching and strengthening to build up your core and release your hips — all at the same time.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here – we've got something for everyone.
A 20-Minute Lower Ab Workout That Also Stretches Your Hips
Move 1: High Knees
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift your hands by your waist with your palms facing down.
- In a hopping motion, bring your right knee up toward your right hand.
- Then quickly bring your right foot down and bring your left knee up toward your left hand. Continue to alternate knees, keeping your back straight and using your core to pull your knees up to your hands.
- Stay on the balls of your feet as your alternate knees.
High knees is a great start for this routine as it gets your heart pumping and warms up your hips and legs, as well as your entire core.
Move 2: Reverse Lunge With Oblique Twist
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a weight plate or medicine ball in front of your chest.
- Take a large step back with your right leg until you are in a high lunge.
- You will feel a stretch in the front of your leg. Keep your back leg straight for a deeper stretch. You can also bend your back knee.
- Hold for 3 seconds, then turn your torso to the left, keeping your hips and knees forward.
- Return to the center and repeat on the other side.
- Continue to alternate sides and do 6 reps on each side.
This exercise stretches your hip flexors and targets your abdominal oblique muscles. With the traditional lunge twist, you bend your back knee, but by keeping your back leg straight in this exercise, you get more of a hip flexor stretch. As a bonus, you are strengthening your legs.
Move 3: Cross Leg Crunch
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee and place your hands behind your head.
- Lift your shoulders and legs at the same time and bring them toward each other.
- You will feel a stretch in your hips as your core muscles tighten.
- Return to the starting position.
This exercise stretches your piriformis muscle, which is helpful if you have sciatica or pain that goes down your leg. The crunch portion of the exercise strengthens your core muscles.
Move 4: Oblique Floor Twist
- Lie on the floor with both legs straight in front of you.
- Keeping your legs straight, cross your right leg on top of your left. You will feel a stretch along the side of your hip.
- Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your head.
- Keeping your shoulders facing toward the ceiling, tighten the muscles on the side of your waist and crunch up. Avoid twisting your shoulders.
- Release and return to the starting position.
This exercise stretches the iliotibial band (IT band) on the side of your hip, while also working your oblique muscles.
Move 5: Butterfly Crunch
- Lie on your back with your arms behind your head.
- Place your legs in a diamond position, with your soles touching each other and your knees relaxed out to the side.
- You will feel a stretch along your inner thigh.
- Lift your shoulders off the floor, crunching up.
- Repeat two sets of 12 crunches.
The butterfly crunch stretches your inner thighs, and the crunch up strengthens your upper and lower abdominal muscles.
Move 6: Flutter Kick
- Lie on your back with your arms behind your neck.
- Lift your legs straight up into the sky and your shoulder off the floor in a crunch position.
- Keeping your shoulders off the floor, criss-cross your legs.
- As you lower your shoulders back down, open your legs out to the sides until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs.
- Return to the starting position with your legs straight up.