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Bretman Rock’s intimidating ab workout is still viral. Here’s how to do it

Advice from a personal trainer about Bretman Rock's "ABSolutely Not" workout.
TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

In 2021, Bretman Rock, a beauty expert and social media influencer, took social media by storm with his workout the “ABSolutely Not" workout. Within only a few months, it had racked up almost a million views. Now, more than 1.4 million people have watched the video and Rock has made tons of new videos — and a lot of fans.

While Rock isn’t a personal trainer, he does have a fitness background as an athlete and works with CrossFit instructors and trainers. In case you don't know, Rock is a bonafide cultural phenomenon — in 2021, he was awarded the MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Social Star.

After reading some reviews, I thought there was no way Rock's workout could be as intense as everyone was claiming. The internet is ablaze with videos and posts of folks who have tried the workout. There are almost 50 million posts about the workout on TikTok and a large percentage of those were made by fans who absolutely could not finish the workout.

As a Pilates instructor, I work my core every single day, so I was dubious. I figured I had the strength and stamina to make it through his workout easily. I was excited to try it and see for myself what all the hype was about. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

What is the “ABSolutely Not" workout?

The ABSolutely Not Workout — aka the “Bretman Rock Ab Workout” — is Bretman Rock’s signature core fitness routine. You can access the workout for free on Rock’s YouTube channel. The “ABSolutely Not" workout is in “3 EASY Workouts to look Cute."

The workout is easy to follow, requires no equipment, and works the abs from all angles. It’s only 8 minutes, but people claim it leaves their abs burning. The routine consists of three circuits of three exercises performed in a 20-40-60 pattern. You rest for 30 seconds between each round.

What exercises are in the "ABSolutely Not" workout?

  • Circuit 1: 20 crunches, 40 in-and-outs, 60-second elbow plank
  • Circuit 2: 20 plank with hip dips, 40 mountain climbers, 60 scissors kicks
  • Circuit 3: 20 reverse crunches, 40 toe-touch crunches, 60-second hollow hold

"ABSolutely Not" workout review 

Holy cow, this was crazy fast!

Rock offers a long rest period in between each circuit, but I doubted I’d need the extra time. Boy, was I wrong! It was a super intense ab workout that definitely required I take more breaks than just 30 seconds.

At my 20th in and out, I was asking myself, “When is this going to be over?” and that was only the second exercise! My abs were on fire and I didn’t even make it through the full 60-second plank hold; I dropped to my knees at 45 seconds and stayed down for longer than the rest period.

The scissor kicks moved so quickly that I felt myself using my leg muscles too much instead of my abs.
The scissor kicks moved so quickly that I felt myself using my leg muscles too much instead of my abs.

I started the next round with the hip dips, which actually felt amazing. I loved working my love handle area and felt my side waist tightening. I’m definitely going to incorporate that into my regular ab routine.

The mountain climbers were annoying, per usual, and I had to modify the 60 scissor kicks, keeping my head down and doing less of a swing with my legs. Because I was moving so fast, my legs were more tired than my abs because my abs weren’t as engaged as they should be, but with that many reps it was very hard to keep them working without my legs taking over. 

I held my knees to my chest to rest my legs during the break. Then I started up with the third and final — thank God! — round. I was careful to not let momentum take over during the 20 reverse crunches, so I really felt my low abs firing during these reps.

The toe touches were a torcher! My low abs and upper abs were on fire. (Note to self: must incorporate this into my workout routine, too!) To cap off the workout, the hollow hold was just way too long. I had to stop at 30 seconds and then finish the final 30 seconds after a quick break instead of doing it for the full 60 seconds.

What I liked about the "ABSolutely Not" workout

It’s only 8 minutes! "ABSolutely Not" proves without a doubt that being short on time is no excuse for not being able to get in a solid core workout. 

I also love that the workout hits the core from all angles — lying down on the ground on your back, in plank and in side plank. It works not only the front of the abs, but also the sides, specifically the obliques and side waist. I definitely plan on including some of the exercises into my routine regularly.

What I didn’t like about the "ABSolutely Not" workout

I didn’t like how there wasn’t a step-by-step demo of each move. I would have at least liked to see a full version of Rock doing the routine to follow along with him. Instead, you watch the video where he shows clips of himself doing the moves and then you set the timer to do the workout on your own.

As a trainer, I am worried that beginners or people who aren't accustomed to the intensity of this workout may strain their necks and backs. Rock even admits that he knows people will critique his form, so I do want to warn people who are trying this routine to listen to their bodies and take breaks when needed. 

This workout is not for beginners. I’d recommend that beginners go slower, do less reps, and take much longer breaks throughout.

What you should know about "ABSolutely Not"

Due to the speed of the workout, even people who are experienced in proper form may still have difficulty maintaining proper alignment. Always remember to exercise for your body and to listen to your body.

If you feel like your form is starting to suffer, just slow down! You don't have to stop doing the workout — you can use YouTube settings to change the playback speed of the video. It can be easy to get excited and keep going going going when you’re having fun in a workout — especially with this type of high energy ab routine — but the integrity of your form is your first priority! 

I would recommend the "ABSolutely Not" workout to:

  •  Advanced exercisers looking to burn out their abs.
  • Pilates enthusiasts looking to change up their ab routine.
  • Anyone who wants to get a solid core workout in a short amount of time.
  • People looking for a core routine they can do anywhere — without any equipment!