25-Minute Cardio Abs and Lower-Body Workout

Welcome to Week 2 of the 28-Day Cardio and Strength Challenge! Sometimes at this point, the newness of a challenge can start to fade. That’s why this cardio abs workout includes a cool new workout protocol for you to try.

This workout includes a Ladder Challenge. The concept is pretty straightforward—but we hope it makes you think a bit as you work out. The key is to not lose count of your reps! You’ll start with 20 reps of an exercise, and then “ladder down” (decrease the number of reps by four) until you get to just 2 reps. You’ll rest for 15 seconds, and then start again with 2 reps and “ladder up” (increase your number of reps by four) until you get back to 20. In this particular ladder, you’ll alternate between bicycle crunches and skaters—and yes, getting up and down from the floor as fast as you can is part of the intended challenge. The goal is to move through the reps as quickly as possible—you want to be breathless by the end of this cardio abs and lower-body workout!

Workout Directions

Do each move below for your selected period of work and rest time (Option 1, 2, or 3). After your last move, rest for 60 seconds. That’s 1 circuit. Do the entire circuit 3-5 times. After your last circuit, try the Ladder Challenge.

  • Option 1: 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest
  • Option 2: 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
  • Option 3: 50 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest

You can use one or two dumbbells during this workout (optional).

Ladder Challenge

Do the exercises below for the indicated number of reps as quickly as possible. You’ll “ladder” down the number of reps, then rest for 15 seconds, then “ladder” back up. For all exercises where you’re alternating sides, each side counts as 1 rep.

  • 20 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 18 reps x Skater
  • 16 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 14 reps Skater
  • 12 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 10 reps x Skater
  • 8 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 6 reps x Skater
  • 4 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 2 reps x Skater

REST for 15 seconds

Now work up, starting with 2 reps of Bicycle Crunches.

  • 2 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 4 reps x Skater
  • 6 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 8 reps x Skater
  • 10 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 12 reps x Skater
  • 14 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 16 reps x Skater
  • 18 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 20 reps x Skater

1. Curtsy Lunge to Lateral Lunge – Repeat on Each Side

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a weight with both hands at chest height. Alternatively, hold a weight in each hand and rest them on the tops of your shoulders with your palms facing in toward each other and your elbows bent. This is your starting position.
  • Step your right foot diagonally behind you and lower your right knee until it almost touches the ground. Your front knee should bend to about 90 degrees.
  • Push through your left heel to stand back up and straighten your left leg. As you return to standing, step your right foot out to the right side, and immediately bend your right knee, sending your hips back to drop into a lateral lunge. Your left leg should stay perfectly straight and you may feel a stretch on the inside of your left leg.
  • Push off your right foot and immediately step your right foot behind your left leg to start another curtsy lunge. Your weights will stay stationary the entire time.
  • Do all of the reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

2. Skater

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right leg and jump to the right. Let your left leg straighten and follow.
  • As you land on your right foot, swing your left foot behind you and tap your left foot to the floor.
  • Swing left leg to the left and jump, landing lightly on left foot and allowing your right foot to swing behind you and lightly tap the floor.
  • Continue to skate from side to side.

3. Tuck-Up

  • Lie faceup, with your legs extended and arms overhead.
  • Engage your core and lift both arms and legs a few inches off the floor to come into a hollow hold position.
  • Engage your core and crunch up, bringing your knees to your chest, and wrapping your hands lightly around your shins. Keep your core tight to balance on your sits bone—do not grip your shins or hug your knees in order to achieve balance.
  • Lower to return to hollow hold position.

4. Forearm Plank Hold

  • Place your forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath your shoulders, hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel.
  • Extend your legs behind you, feet hip-width apart.
  • Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads. Hold.
  • After your last round, try the Ladder Challenge.
    Ladder Challenge
  • Do the exercises below for the indicated number of reps as quickly as possible. You’ll “ladder” down the number of reps, then rest for 15 seconds, then “ladder” back up. For all exercises where you’re alternating sides, each side counts as 1 rep.
  • 20 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 18 reps x Skater
  • 16 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 14 reps Skater
  • 12 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 10 reps x Skater
  • 8 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 6 reps x Skater
  • 4 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 2 reps x Skater

REST for 15 seconds

Now work up, starting with 2 reps of Bicycle Crunches.

  • 2 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 4 reps x Skater
  • 6 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 8 reps x Skater
  • 10 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 12 reps x Skater
  • 14 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 16 reps x Skater
  • 18 reps x Bicycle Crunch — 20 reps x Skater

5. Bicycle Crunch

  • Lie faceup with your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent to 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and pointing out to the sides. Use your abs to curl your shoulders off the floor. Alternatively, you can make this move easier by sitting up more, curling your entire back off the floor (as shown above). This is your starting position.
  • Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee, while simultaneously straightening your right leg.
  • Then, twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee, while simultaneously straightening your left leg.
  • Continue alternating sides. Go at a slow and steady pace so that you can really twist and feel your abs working.

6. Skater

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right leg and jump to the right. Let your left leg straighten and follow.
  • As you land on your right foot, swing your left foot behind you and tap your left foot to the floor.
  • Swing left leg to the left and jump, landing lightly on left foot and allowing your right foot to swing behind you and lightly tap the floor.
  • Continue to skate from side to side.

7. Pin This Workout!

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