The Tone It Up Girls Show Us the Most Effective Cardio-Ab Routine

Tone It Up

Tone It Up

Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, it's entirely possible to move your body and boost your heart rate. Take it from Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, otherwise known as the Tone It Up girls. Scott and Dawn have mastered the art of integrating fitness and lifestyle, which is why we turned to them when we wanted an effective ab-sculpting and cardio-blasting fitness routine for those painfully busy days when hitting the gym just isn't in the cards. (You know those days when you have a grand total of 15 minutes to spare in between work, meetings, errands, and various other responsibilities? Yeah, we're talking about that).

Doing crunches or planks may help strengthen your abdominal muscles, but those exercises alone won't result in real changes to your midsection. You can’t just spot reduce in one area, which is why this HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout promises results by combining core strengthening and cardio. "Adding short, high-intensity bursts of cardio is key to forming beautiful lean muscle and seeing results fast,” the Tone It Up girls explain. On alternate days, you can mix things up by giving LISS (low-intensity steady-state) training a try.

Even though you can focus on doing only abdominal strengthening one day and cardio the next day, incorporating both together in one workout may be a more efficient way to reach your goals. In fact, cardio is a necessary part of toning your midsection as it helps maintain a healthy weight by burning excess calories. Don't forget the importance of a healthy diet, with a focus on unprocessed foods, to also keep your weight in check.

"This cardio and toning combo will boost your heart rate, sculpt your gorgeous core, and rev your metabolism," the Tone It Up girls say.

To get the most out of your workout and to properly work your abs, engage your core throughout the routine. Focus on contracting your abdominal muscles, like you are bracing for a strong bunch to your stomach, as you perform each exercise. Make sure you aren’t sticking your stomach out, but rather tucking your pelvis in slightly.

The cardio-ab routine, designed by the Tone It Up Girls, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere (including the beach, for those lucky few!). Aim to do the entire routine three times, resting as needed between sets. Ready to get started?

1st Move: High Knees

Tone It Up

An effective ab/cardio workout doesn't have to be complicated. Start with a simple round of high knees to boost your heart rate while also working your core.

  • Start standing with feet hip-width apart and hands in front of you.
  • Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and your palms facing down.
  • Lift your left knee up to touch your left palm, and then quickly alternate sides, lifting your right knee to your right palm as the opposite knee lowers. This is one rep.
  • Keep your core engaged as you focus on touching your knee to your palm.
  • Perform 15 reps.

2nd Move: Bikini Walkout + Tummy Toners

Tone It Up

Next up, we have what the Tone It Up girls call Bikini Walkouts and Tummy Toners. This is a hybrid move that sculpts the obliques, shoulders, and legs.

  • Start standing at the back of your mat and walk your hands out in front of you until you reach a plank position.
  • Bring your right knee up to your right elbow and then return to plank position.
  • Repeat on the left side.
  • Walk your hands back to your feet and come up to standing.
  • Perform 15 times on each side.

3rd Move: Side Plank Crunch

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Now onto the side plank crunch. Anyone who has ever stepped foot into a Pilates studio knows how effective this one is at sculpting the obliques.

  • Start in a side plank position on your right forearm with your right (bottom) knee placed on the ground and left (top) leg extended out straight.
  • Reach your left arm directly overhead.
  • Bring your left elbow to your left knee to a crunch position. Return to start.
  • Keep your core engaged, which will help your stability and balance.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Perform 15 times on each side.

4th Move: Plank Jack

Tone it Up

After you're through with the side plank crunches (good riddance), move onto the plank jack, which is just like it sounds; it's equal parts plank and jumping jack. It sculpts the core and shoulders while boosting the heart rate for that love-to-hate cardio burn.

  • Start in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, feet together, and your body in a straight line.
  • Jump your feet out to the sides of your mat and back to center.
  • Focus on engaging your core and keeping your body in a straight line.
  • Perform 15 reps.

5th Move: Bicycles

Tone It Up

What's an ab workout without the classic bicycle move? There's a reason this move has stood the test of time. It's meant to boost the heart rate while toning the obliques.

  • Lay on your back with your feet off the ground and legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Gently place your hands behind your head, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
  • Extend your left leg straight and twist your body to the right so that your left elbow meets your right knee.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Perform 15 reps on each side.

See, not so bad, right? This cardio-ab workout promises to rev up your heart rate, help you maintain a healthy weight and sculpt your abs. To us, that sounds like the perfect quick workout. It also sounds like the perfect workout to do while traveling since it's quick, easy to follow, and requires no special equipment. All you need are your favorite workout leggings and sports bra—and maybe a yoga mat, too. Hello, hotel room-friendly cardio!

Article Sources
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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Want to lose the belly fat?. Updated April 17, 2020.

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