The ‘Ab Clock’ Exercise Is a Ticking Time Bomb for Your Core

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Photo: Getty Images/Thomas Tolstrup
Since quarantine kicked off earlier this year, TikTok has become destination number one for finding fast and fun fitness challenges. (See: The handstand challenge of April.) Summer 2020 will be remembered for one called the "ab clock exercise," a quick-yet-daunting series that's a twist on classic pull-ups. Everyone including burpee-queen Kayla Itsines has given the workout a go—and now, it's your turn.

Rather than craning yourself into the air as you would for a normal pull-up, this workout asks you to hang from your nearest pull-up bar or monkey bars and hit each hour of the clock with your pointed toes. If you've ever tried to kip, the move is a lot like that... but harder. Need I say that the ab clock hits every single muscle in your core? Need I say that your arms will be burning? Need I say that your heart will be racing? I don't think I do, but just to confirm the top-notch difficulty of this workout, I tried it for myself.

I approach my own home pull-up bar with the trepidation of someone about to cliff dive, free solo, or do something equally nerve-wracking. I jump up to grip the pull-up bar and the ab clock exercise goes exactly as expected. The invisible 3 o'clock through 9 o'clock marks are at least doable, but my core refuses to hit the higher numbers of the clock. (Midnight? No way. 11 o'clock? I guess I'll just put that dream to bed.) Alas, I give myself an A for effort and walk my tired torso back to my desk. The ab clock might not exactly fall in my range of motion, but it was fun to try anyway.

Of course, every good workout ends in some nice, gentle stretching and—would you believe it?!—there's a clock-based method for that, too. So what are you waiting? The clock's ticking.

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