Fitness influencer Chris Heria not only has an impressive physique but he’s got the physical prowess to back it up. One quick scroll through his Instagram feed will show the athlete pulling off moves that most of us could only dream of doing, like a muscle up where he ends in a standing position on top of a bar. I’m pretty sure even attempting something like that would land me in the hospital.
Like a lot of influencers, Heria has tried to translate his social media popularity into other successful ventures — his THENX smartphone app features calisthenics and progressive bodyweight exercises for all ages and abilities. He’ll often share some of these programs on his free YouTube channel, and I happened to stumble upon this 8-minute core workout which — he claims — will leave you with six-pack abs after a year of consistency.
I may not have a year to devote to an ab routine, but I certainly have a week. So, I decided to roll out my mat and try Chris Heria’s ab workout every day for seven days straight. Read on to see what I learned.
As a reminder, check in with your medical team before beginning any fitness program — especially if this is your first foray into regular exercise. Consider meeting with a certified personal trainer to ensure you’re working out with good form and at an appropriate level.
What is Chris Heria’s ab workout?
“Today’s workout is not going to be the hardest routine,” Heria admits in the video's introduction. “But, it’s an effective routine that’s going to build every area of your abdominals.”
The workout moves through eight different exercises, each done for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. The exercises are:
Lying leg raises
Plank twists (which he calls “plank side to side”)
Plank up and downs
I did this Chris Heria ab workout every day for a week — here’s what I learned
My core work has been getting stale lately, so I was looking forward to mixing things up a bit. Here’s what I found after going through this routine for a week:
It’s not for beginners
Despite what Heria says in the last few minutes of the video, the exercises he includes in this workout are definitely not “beginner-friendly” — most beginners would not be able to come to a full seated position for a reach-up, nor would they be able to do standard-form leg raises, leg flutters, or Russian twists while balanced on the tailbone — much less for 45 seconds straight with minimal rest.
Heria doesn’t include any modifications for the exercises (you could technically count his suggestion to “bend the knees” for Russian twists as a modification, but that doesn’t really make the movement more accessible). I’ve got a relatively strong core, and even I had to modify some of the exercises when my abs started to fatigue. I had to modify them further when my neck and back started to ache.
As a certified personal trainer, I know when and how to modify appropriately. Most people don’t, so the lack of options from Heria makes the entire workout pretty unattainable for those newer to exercise.
It worked every muscle of the core
Heria does make good on his promise to work all of your abdominal muscles in a quick and efficient eight minutes. By the end of the workout, I felt like I had effectively targeted all of the major muscles in my core.
That being said, the transverse abdominis (the deepest muscle of your core, connected to your spine and pelvis) doesn’t get too much attention in this workout. The plank variations will hit it some, but most of the emphasis is on your rectus abdominis (the most surface-level muscles of your core) and your obliques (muscles on the sides of your torso). To be fair though, your transverse abdominis isn’t the muscle you’ll see with a “six-pack,” which is what this workout is touting.
It got a little easier as the week progressed
I’m no stranger to core work, but I’ll admit that this workout humbled me during the first few days. My abs were killing me on day two, and I had to pull back on some of the movements so I didn’t wreck myself completely.
By the time I got to day five, the workout started to get a bit easier. I still considered the routine to be challenging by day seven, however it felt much more doable.
It won’t give you a “six-pack” (on its own)
Have you ever heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen?” It’s accurate for a few reasons, one of which is because you’ll want to make sure that your diet — specifically the ratio of protein, carbs, and fat that you eat — supports muscle growth.
It’s also accurate because a “six-pack” is dependent on having a body fat percentage low enough for your abs to be visible, and your body fat percentage is dependent on your caloric intake (the number of calories you eat in a day). You could have the strongest, most conditioned abs of anyone that you know, but if your body fat percentage is too high, you won’t see those abs popping out of your stomach (and in more unfortunate news, it’s possible for your body fat percentage to be at normal or optimal levels and still be too high for your “six-pack” to show).
That’s not to say that this workout won’t help strengthen your abdominals. However, Heria has left a very important factor out of his “six-pack” equation — even a year’s worth of consistency won’t give you visible abs if your diet isn’t regimented.