I Tried Olympian Colleen Quigley's 5-Minute Ab Routine, and I Have 2 Words: Help Me

If we asked you to take a guess at how Olympic runners train, abs might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but Rio 2016 Olympian Colleen Quigley is here to convince you that a strong core is essential for efficiency and form. Colleen, a 2020 hopeful, just won her first US title this past February for the Mile Run at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Currently in a lull period between the indoor and outdoor track seasons, Colleen told POPSUGAR that she and her teammates at the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, OR, do what they call "base training," longer aerobic workouts that build a strong foundation. Their weekly routine consists of track workouts (oftentimes two per day), one long run, and three gym sessions with weights. She also does an hour of Pilates each week, which has made her "really strong in the past year."

Colleen posts some of her leg and ab day workouts on her website, and I tried her 3-6-9-12 ab routine. Keep reading for the workout and details about just how much my core hated me afterward (in a good way).

click to play video

The 3-6-9-12 Ab Routine

This routine features three exercises that you do in a ladder sequence, meaning you start out with smaller reps, work your way up to the highest number, then work back down to the small reps again. Do each of the following exercises three, six, nine, 12, nine, six, and three times, as described on Colleen's website. Try to do them without stopping, but take short breaks if you need:

Colleen said this should take you about five minutes.

What I Thought of Colleen Quigley's 3-6-9-12 Ab Routine
David Bracetty

What I Thought of Colleen Quigley's 3-6-9-12 Ab Routine

I'm a former gymnast, and we used to do ladder workouts like this at practice, though Colleen's ab routine was by no means easy. It really did take me five minutes (five minutes and three seconds, to be exact). At first, I flew through it because of the low reps, but by the time I increased my reps to nine, my core was on fire. The Pilates pumps bring the intensity of a hollow hold (if you keep your legs and chest up properly). And with that added crunch and your legs positioned similar to how they'd be in bicycle, that move alone is hard. The rocking planks and pikes will work your shoulders and your abs.

When I got to the top of the ladder, at 12 reps, I thought it would never end, and the prospect of going back down to three reps made me groan (a number of times). I managed to take just two quick breaks, even though I was tempted to take more. Colleen's ab routine is serious business, and I'll be adding it to my own workouts when I need an extra core burn. And you should, too.