Most beginners that hitting the gym after they saw how their friends looked on Spring Break will go right for their abs. They want to show off their six-pack by summer but many may not even know how to start and start correctly without getting injured or exhausting their efforts.
Follow this workout a couple times per week and keep your form tight as well maintain a healthy diet with added cardio, and you’ll be on your way to a great set of abs in no time. This workout will be tough but short since every exercise is performed in a giant set fashion only resting for 60-90 seconds after all exercises are completed for 1 set.
Exercise #1: Exercise Ball Crunches
To start off and warm up the core, performing a crunch on an exercise ball is a great, low intensity way to start and properly fuel your body for the rest of the tougher movement. Many like to use the exercise ball to make the movement easier but that’s not what its intended for- use it to make the crunches harder! Keep the rep tempo slow and steady and cue your breaths with the concentric and eccentric parts of the movement.
- Start with feet planted on the floor with just your upper back touching the exercise ball
- Using just your core, breathe out and crunch yourself up to an upright position
- The key here is to minimize the distance between your chest and belly button as much as possible to ensure the muscles are being fully contracted
- Breathe air in at the top and hold on the way back down then repeat
Exercise #2: Leg Raises
Another great way to hit the lower abs is through lying leg raises. This will not only work the lower abs, but the middle and upper as well throughout the whole movement in itself. Keep your hands underneath your backside will help you support and stabilize your weight so you can focus solely on the squeeze and contraction of the abdomen. For a more advanced kick, try keeping your hands off the ground for added resistance and to work your core stabilizer muscles as well.
- Place hands right underneath your backside while lying flat on the ground
- Using your stomach, keep your legs straight and raise them up as high as possible
- Squeeze and contract the abs at the peak of the movement then slowly lower them back to the starting position
- For a tougher alternative, ensure you keep your heels off the ground at all times on the downward part by about 2-3 inches from the ground
Exercise #3: Hanging Knee Raises w/ Twist
With your lower abs already taking a major beating, it’s time to obliterate them along with the side obliques with a hanging leg raise with some twists. This movement helps create the “V” taper that so many see when the shirt comes off at the beach or pool. Like always, the quality of the reps is further greater than the quantity so keep your form tight and get as many slow and controlled reps as you can instead of just swinging your legs.
- Start by either hanging from a pull-up bar or if you’re not strong enough to do so, start from elbow supported knee raise bars
- Embrace the core and pull your knees and toes up as high as possible, keeping them as close to the chest as possible
- The key to this movement is making sure you get your knees up higher than 90 degrees because before this you’re working mainly hip flexors
- Alternate straight forward raises with twisting raises on each side
Exercise #4: Decline Sit-ups
With the entire mid-section thoroughly worked, it’s time to burn it out and get maximum blood flow and pump into your abs. Keep your form tight on these but up the tempo to ensure you’re firing every part of the abs during the movement and flexing and stretching each rep using a full range of motion. When it starts to burn, you know you’re doing it right!
- Get on a decline bench where you can have your feet supported
- Use your abs to sit yourself all the way up to the top and squeeze for 1-2 seconds at the top
- Lower yourself back down quickly and repeat
Sets and Reps: 4 x 15-20 on Exercise Ball Crunches, Leg Raises and Hanging Knee Raises and then 4 x AMRAP on the Decline Sit-ups. This is performed as a giant set with no rest between the 4 exercises followed by 60-90 seconds rest between rounds.