Can we be honest for a minute? When most of us are working out, what is the one area that we want to effect the most? The answer is almost always, the abdominals. After all, who doesn’t want a nice six-pack to show off? With warm weather on the way, and skimpier clothing following suit, we’ll finally get to see what everyone has been working on (or not working on) this winter. The good news is, if you’re reading this today, you still have more than enough time to develop a tight and toned mid-section.
Let me back up a second, you still have enough time if you break free from the same ab crunches and other similar core exercises you’ve been doing sporadically over the past however many years. While they have their place for sure, they need to be intermixed with more complex abdominal exercises to maximize their effects. After a while of trial and error, and seeing what works and doesn’t, I’ve developed what I believe to be the greatest abdominal workout you’ve ever attempted. Before we jump into the routine, there are a few things we need to address.
- All the ab work in the world isn’t giving you a six-pack if there is a layer of fat covering your abdominal muscles. Diet + cardio work are the two most important things. Get these two things right and use this routine to develop the muscles in your core. Unlike other abdominal routines, this workout incorporates intense cardiovascular work that burns fat but also targets the core. Two birds, one stone.
- Your “six pack” is actually the Rectus Abdominis muscle. It is ONE muscle. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh I need to work my lower abs because they’re really lacking”. Well, as hard as they want to try to train their lower abs, they really are still working the Rectus Abdominis muscle. A vital part of developing beautiful abdominal muscles is making sure to use compound abdominal exercises which hit larger portions of the Rectus Abdominis, rather than isolating specific parts of it.
- Include these workouts into the rest of your workout routine. There is much debate about whether or not working the abdominals every day is appropriate. It is my belief that while you can work the abdominals more often than other muscle groups since they are more accustomed to stress (keeping you upright, supporting your bodyweight, etc.) than say your biceps, I still feel they are a muscle and need to be given adaquate rest time. Aim to complete this routine no more than 3 days a week, with about 48 hours rest between workouts.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… lets move on to the workout that is going to completely change the way you look at core work forever.
As mentioned above, add days 1 and 3 to your current workout routine; try adding them to the end of a workout day. Complete day 2 on its own. If you are on a 5 day a week exercise program, either substitute day 2 of this workout for one of those days, OR (preferably) complete the day 2 workout over the weekend. If you don’t currently have a workout routine, check around the blog for some pretty killer total body workout programs.
Day 1 – Strictly maintain rest times listed after each set.
- 4 x 20 Decline plate sit-ups – On a decline bench, and holding a plate against your chest, sit up while slightly twisting your torso to the left. Lower yourself, then repeat, this time, slightly twisting to the right. Repeat this for the prescribed number of reps/sets. 30 seconds rest between sets.
- 3 x 20 Eagle sit ups – 30 seconds rest between sets
- 3 x 30 V-sits on bench – 30 seconds rest between sets
- 3 x 15 Hanging leg raises – If this is too difficult, feel free to bend your legs and bring your knees to your chest. If hanging from a pull up bar is too hard, use a dip machine, like this. 20 seconds rest between sets.
- 3 x 30 Russian Twists with weight – Complete a full rotation, side-to-side. Hold a dumbbell, medicine ball, plate, or other weighted object. 30 seconds rest between sets.
- 4 x 25 Cable crunch – 30 seconds rest between sets.
Day 2 – Day 2 is going to incorporate cardiovascular movements that also hit your abs, giving you a double-dose of six-pack buildling goodness. This should be a complete workout routine by itself, i.e., 45-60 minutes in length.
- 4 x 15 Burpees/4 x 20 crunches – Perform 1 set of burpees immediately followed by 1 set of crunches (follow this format for all exercises below). Rest 45 seconds. Repeat.
- 4 x 30 Mountain climbers/4 x 100 pilates hundreds – 45 second rest between sets
- 4 x 30 Horizontal jacks/4 x 40 Hip dips (20 per side) – 45 second rest between sets
- 4 x 30 Speed skaters holding a plate – If you can’t make your way up to holding a plate, no problem. Go without the plate until you feel able. 30 second rest between sets.
- 5 x 1 Running high knees in place – 30 second rest between sets.
- 5 x 25 Reverse crunches – 30 second rest between sets.
- 4 x 15 burpees/4 x 25 crunches
- 10 minutes HIIT sprinting (:30 sprint/1:30 jog)
Day 3 – So, in Day 1 we really used heavy weights to bring your Rectus Abdominis to complete exhaustion; you should have felt a deep after burn following this workout. In Day 2 we incorporated a cardio element and utilized compound supersets to help build your abdominal muscles while burning the layer of fat covering them. In Day 3, we are going to up our repetitions so your muscles don’t know what the heck is going on. Take a deep breath, put your seatbelt on, and get ready to go..here’s the final part of this workout…
- 2 x 50 bicycle crunches – 20 second rest between sets.
- 2 x 50 Flutter kicks – 15 second rest between sets.
- 2 x 40 Feet up crunch – 30 second rest between sets.
- 2 x 100 heel touches – 15 second rest between sets.
- 3 x 15 Pike ups – 30 second rest between sets.
- 2 x 40 Windshield wipers – 30 seconds rest between sets.
- 2 x 1 minute planks – 30 seconds rest between sets.
- 10 x 15 Crunches – 10 seconds rest between sets.
There you have it guys. To recap, we’re going to fully burn your abdominals out on Day 1 with a focus on weighted exercises. Day 2 is going to introduce cardio exercises and compound supersets to kill your core and blast fat. Day 3 utilizes high repetitions and shorter rest times to completely confuse your abdominals. This three-pronged approach, using the exercises above, has proven to be extremely effective for real-life clients and remote clients alike. Stick to the plan, include extra cardio if you could use it (realistically, almost all of us can), and eat a clean and well-balanced diet. Remember, 60% of the battle for that six-pack will be accomplished by your diet and burning the fat covering your stomach through the use of high-intensity cardiovascular work. As always, if you guys have any questions or need clarification, feel free to leave a comment.
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