8 Minute Abs

Do you remember that program? I never bought it but I once did it at a friends house who had purchased it. I can’t remember it exactly but it was all kinds of crunch variations. It would be easy to say that it was gimmicky and that would be correct, but what if I told you that 8 minutes is about the amount of exercise you need each day to get abs?

You would probably say, “Erik I think you are full of shit and trying to sell me some hyped product.” What if I were to then tell you that with nothing except your own body and perhaps a pull up bar or set of rings you could do everything you needed to get body and fitness you wanted in only 8 minutes? I bet I would start to attract your attention.

Now I am going to tell you that you absolutely can get into the best shape of your life with 8 minutes or less of exercise each day. However I need to define exercise and differentiate it from mobility work, movement skills, physical activity, and sports. I define exercise as that part of the workout that you really don’t want to do. The part that hurts, but also the part that creates the changes you want.

Normally Itend to train 2–4 hours each day. By training I mean all things done to improve my health, fitness, posture, movement, and performance. In 3 hours of training more than 75% of it will be easy to perform activities. It will be mobility exercises and muscle innervation techniques in the morning. A functional workout that will be mostly movement skills and perhaps 5–10 minutes of really hard physical exertion. Perhaps some drilling with a little sparring for 10–15 minutes or so in the afternoon. Then perhaps the same thing in the evening.

Remember this is my life. I literally live across the street from my gym and am at the gym 6–12 hours almost everyday. What about someone who only has 1 hour each day to cover all of their bases in regards to health, fitness, and body composition?

First and foremost you must make sure you are getting enough sleep. Without enough quality sleep you will overtrain quickly and almost certainly blow your diet. Next you need to make sure that you are eating the right foods, at the right times, and the right amounts. Then you need to go after creating the correct workout. You don’t need much in the way of equipment but you do need to have a good structure.

My suggestion for how to workout is exactly how I teach my Functional Integrated Training (FIT) class at Mushin (my gym). We do a mobility based warm up for 5 — 15 minutes, followed by 5–15 minutes of movement skills, and finish with 5–15 minutes of strength, power, and/or interval training. This template isn’t exact, but the average class is right around 30–40 minutes, but only 5–10 minutes of those 30–40 are really hard.

Does it work? Absolutely! The whole thing is intensity which is a completely relative term. In a group of 8 people everyone will have a different level of intensity they should be at based up age, sex, weight, body composition, training history, skill level, recovery status, sleep status, nutritional status, and on it goes.

If you are skeptical I suggest you try doing three things and see if you don’t get better results.

  1. ) Sleep at least 8 hours each night
  2. ) Do only 3 functional workouts per week that are 15-30 minutes mobility and 15–30 minutes strength interveals (kettlebells and/or calisthenics 30 seconds on 30–90 seconds off). Keep total time under tension in the strength interval portion under 10 minutes. Joking aside 8 minutes is a pretty good number. Allow 1 -2 days between sessions.
  3. ) Cut your carbs to under 100 grams per day and up your intake of quality animal and plant fats.

Do that and you will look and feel better in less time than you think. It really doesn’t take much to make your body change. It is also really easy to overtrain and not get the results you want. Everything in life is balance and most people try to overcompensate with exercise to take up the slack caused by the bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle. In the end it doesn’t give you what you are looking to achieve. The trick is to strike the right balance and get that right amount of exercise.

Those crazy folks that made 8 minute abs may have found the magic formula way back when. Seriously though, doing less work with more intensity can have dramatic results if everything else is aligned properly. If you feel stuck try training less and seeing if you can get more. If you aren’t working hard at all and aren’t making progress. You are now dumber for having read this. Good luck!