The Japanese Ab Workout claims to deliver flat abs just by lying on a towel. We cut through the fake news to bring you the core blasts we know work
TikTok has created a fair few reliable trends this year; yoghurt bark , easy French manis and tanning mists, for example, but one thing we’re definitely not relying on the video site for is the ab fitness trend known as the Japanese Ab Workout or Japanese Towel Workout.
A clip on the site, which has been viewed more than 3.5 million times, went viral when it claimed that all you needed to do to get a flat tummy was lie down on a rolled-up towel for ten days, when we all know a six-pack is a combination of good genes, dedication in the gym as well as healthy eating.
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Based on a method invented by Japanese reflexologist Dr Toshiki Fukutsudzi, the move was created to help with lower back pain and fix your spine, but he also claimed that it could help you lose weight and gain abs by correcting the placement of the pelvis. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. And the fitness world is not happy about it.
If all you had to do was lay down to get abs, we’d all have six-packs by taking naps
Cassey Ho, the founder of online workout channel Blogilates, has been posting workout online since 2008 and tore into the Japanese towel trend: “I’m so sick of fake fitness information going viral on Instagram and TikTok,” she said.
“Apparently you can lay on a towel and get toned abs in ten days. As a certified fitness professional and a person with common sense, I was completely taken aback that this video racked up over 14 million views. The stretch is meant to cure lower back pain and fix your spinal alignment. That makes total sense. Then he says something about how the stretch will help you lose weight over a period of time. No. If all you had to do was lay down to get abs, we’d all have six-packs by taking naps.
"If you want abs you’re going to have to work for them unless you’re already genetically gifted with them. I am literally telling you right now, there is no short cut. You need to exercise and eat healthy to burn that layer of fat covering your abs. That’s how you do it!”
That’s us told. There are some online workouts that are trustworthy to help shape abs though – although most experts would agree that abs are 85 per cent what you eat, as Get The Gloss co-founder Susannah Taylor discovered – here are the online ab workouts worth turning to for a toned tummy and strong core.
Chloe Ting's 2-week abs workout
Australia-based fitness trainer Chloe Ting is a major presence on TikTok, but for a better reason than the rolled-up towel workout – the site is awash with people sharing their results from her workouts and proclaiming how hard it is (we tried it, the up and down planks are a killer!). She joined YouTube back in 2011 and has more than 13 million subscribers watching her workout vids.
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She offers workouts for all body parts but her two-week abs shred has really taken off in the last few months – the YouTube video has racked up over 207 million views and the before and after pics from fans on Instagram speak for themselves with seriously defined abs all over our feed. The workout comprises 21 core exercises for 30 seconds each, including leg raise claps, reverse crunches and spider man planks.
Lucy Wyndham Read’s 7-minute ab workout
A veteran on the online workout scene, personal trainer Lucy’s seven-minute ab workout is one of the most-watched fitness video on YouTube of all time. Lucy recreated her belly-blasting workout here for us, modifying it to feature zero planks or crunches (praise be!). It's all done standing in order to make it suitable for postnatal training (crunches aren't advised while the abs knit back together). The workout includes kicks, leg raises and lunges. You'll be pleasantly out of breath and your shoulders will also feel looser. A great start to the day or if you are short on time.
Jessica Ennis-Hill’s 20 minute core circuit
Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill probably has the most fanous abs in the UK and after two children they are still as defined as in her heptathlete heydey. We won’t lie, it burns, but all the good ones do, right? Exercises include plank reaches, squats, cross scissor kicks and bunny hops, among others. It's less than 20 minutes, so we know you can do it. Maybe even twice…
Jillian Michaels 7-minute ab workout
Seven seems to be the magic number with ab workouts. If you like your exercise with a side of drama, veteran fitness trainer Jillian Michaels is for you. Intense music accompanies her workout which comprises double crunches for 25 seconds, top tap crunches and hanging mountain climbers. Ouch.
Blogilates’ 10 minute lower ab flattener
Cassey Ho has more than five million subscribers to her workout channel and there are endless ab workouts to choose from. This one from has garnered a million views and includes eight lower ab moves that you do for a minute each with 15 rest seconds in between. Cassey is a hard taskmaster, but she’s so peppy you can’t help but love her even when she has you doing double leg lifts, flutters and reverse crunches…
Rebecca Louise’s beginner abs workout
Another online fitness OG, is trainer Rebecca Louise Smith, who has been uploading videos for ten years and has plenty of different ones to try. If you’re just starting out this is a great one to ease you in. It’s 10 minutes long and also feature her very cute dog Alphie which helps entertain you through the burn. Rebecca Louise puts focus on balance to start with to emphasise the importance of this in ab workouts.
If you're missing your daily Joe Wicks fix, check out his best ever ab workout videos .