by: Yuri Elkaim

The Ultimate HIIT Core Workout (Do This In Your Living Room)

An intense, fat-burning core workout using only a stability ball and the floor, that also takes less than 15 minutes?

Yes, workout heaven is real.

In this post, I’ll outline several Swiss ball core exercises that will get your abs taut and toned, while also adding in a high-intensity interval training version to help you quickly melt away excess fat.

Benefits of Core Stabilization Exercises

Any motion done in the plank position targets what are referred to as our core stabilizer muscles.

diagram-of-core-muscles

These are the inner muscles of our core that lie much deeper than our visible “six-pack” abs, wrapping around our entire midsection. They provide the foundation of our entire center, support the spine (which can help ease low back pain), and assist in just about every movement we make.

As a bonus, when they’re properly trained, they also “zip up” the midsection like a corset, giving you a tight core.

And when we use a stability ball, it’s like taking the plank position up three levels. Our stability muscles and core have to work even harder to keep us balanced since our feet are propped on an unstable, moving surface.

HIIT Core Workout

Why combine the magic of core stability exercises with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)?

Simple: HIIT is one of the best forms of cardio you can do to blast away fat quickly. And by quickly, I mean in a 15- to 25-minute workout a few times a week, instead of the typical hours spent on the treadmill.

Research confirms this. One study showed that doing three-minute intervals on a stationary bike (30 seconds of intense pedaling followed by a short rest) repeated five or six times had the same effects as a slow-and-steady bike ride lasting 90 minutes to 2 hours (1).

Another study showed that, compared to a group doing traditional aerobics, participants who did HIIT training burned 900 percent more fat over the 15 weeks than doing aerobics (2).

The reason for these drastic results is because HIIT training quite literally creates chemical and structural DNA changes that favor fat burn.

For instance, some studies have shown that HIIT training increases our production of fat-burning proteins, which then causes the body to become more efficient at using fat as a fuel source (3).

Another reason is due to a process called excess-post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

EPOC essentially refers to how many calories you’re burning following a workout, rather than during. It turns out that this afterburn is at its highest following high-intensity training, such as HIIT.

You see, during a workout, your body struggles to provide you and your muscles with enough oxygen to carry out the activity. If you exercise hard enough, this becomes difficult and you feel breathless.

And after your workout, this excess oxygen consumption doesn’t stop. Your body is still working to restore your oxygen levels, not to mention clear out lactic acid from your muscles. All of these activities require more energy (aka: calories), which results in more fat burn for you.

HIIT Core Exercises

Now let’s take a look at how to perform the stability ball exercises we’ll be using in this workout.

1. Prone Ball Twists

prone-ball-twists

Instructions:

  • Begin in a high plank position (with straight arms) with the tops of your feet resting on your ball.
  • Be sure to keep your body in a straight line, avoiding sagging your hips, with your hands beneath your shoulders.
  • Now remove one leg from the ball, twisting with your outer hip slightly as you do, and tap it on the ground beside the ball. Bring it back to the top, and tap/twist with the other leg.
  • Alternate twists for a total of 24 reps.

2. Stability Ball Dead Bug

stability-ball-dead-bug

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with the ball resting between your knees/upper shins and your hands.
  • Making sure to press your legs and hands into the ball at all times, lower your right arm behind your head while simultaneously lowering your left leg to just above the ground.
  • Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side, alternating for 12 to 15 reps.

3. Stability Ball Knee Tucks

ball-knee-tucks

Instructions:

  • Begin in a high plank position, feet on top of the ball. Keep your spine straight and avoid sagging your hips toward the ground.
  • Now draw in your feet toward your chest, letting the ball roll toward you.
  • Extend back to your starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

4. Stability Ball Knee Drive Hold

ball-knee-drive-hold

Instructions:

  • Begin in a plank position with your hands on your ball. Stagger them slightly to the side for balance.
  • Lift one knee toward your chest and hold for five seconds, engaging your core and glutes to keep your balance.
  • Lower and switch knees. Repeat for 12 reps.

5. Burpees

burpees

Instructions:

  • Begin standing tall. Now bend at your knees, pushing your hips back, and plant your hands firmly on the ground.
  • Jump your feet behind you and land in a push-up position. Beginners can stay here or can continue to do a full pushup.
  • Jump your feet back in and explode up from a squat to a jump.
  • Repeat for 15 reps.

Now, you can go through this circuit (minus the burpees) 2 to 3 times and get in a fantastic core workout. Or, you can continue with me below to the HIIT version, which will tone your core and increase your fat burn.

The HIIT Core Workout Circuit

Perform this entire circuit three times through, with a one-minute rest between circuits.

  1. Prone Ball Twists, 24 reps
  2. Burpees, 10 to 15 reps
  3. Rest 10 seconds
  4. Stability Ball Dead Bug, 12 to 15 reps
  5. Burpees, 10 to 15 reps
  6. Rest 10 seconds
  7. Stability Ball Knee Drive Hold, 12 reps
  8. Burpees, 10 to 15 reps
  9. Rest 10 seconds
  10. Stability Ball Knee Tucks, 10 to 15 reps
  11. Burpees, 10 to 15 reps

Rest one minute, then repeat.

Perform this workout 2-3 times a week for best results.

Beginners

If you’re a beginner and are finding it difficult to complete this workout using the stability ball, I have some excellent alternatives for you that will build up your core strength and get you on that ball in no time.

• Plank Toe Touches

Instead of doing prone ball twists on the stability ball, perform the same movement in a plank position on the ground, tapping your toes from side-to-side for a total of 24 reps.

• Standard Dead Bug

Perform the dead bug without the stability ball. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms extended above your head and legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Extend your right leg behind your head while simultaneously extending your left leg. Switch sides and repeat for 12-15 reps.

• Mountain Climbers

Instead of stability ball knee tucks, perform the same movement on the floor (aka mountain climbers). Begin in a plank position, spine straight, hands directly beneath your shoulders. Drive one knee into your chest, then switch legs. Alternate for 12 reps.

• Side Planks

Replace one of the exercises with side planks. Simply roll over to one side from a plank position, keeping your hips lifted. You can rest your upper arm on your hip or stretch it toward the sky. Hold for 30 seconds.

• High Knees

If you’re having a hard time with burpees, perform high knees jogging in place for 30 seconds.

Time-Saving, Fat-Blasting Workout

As you’ll see both during and after this workout, these core stability ball exercises are extremely efficient.

Bundling them into a HIIT core workout will save you time by combing the most effective fat-burning cardio with the ultimate ab burn.

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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.