As a lot of you already know, I’m a huge proponent of working the abs even though ab exercises are not what get the muscles in your midsection to show. Having a strong core, after all, is essential for functional strength. Let me show you a few awesome workouts for developing six pack abs that are as functionally strong as they are visually aesthetic.
A Note About Reps
Let me ask you a question. Do you think it’s possible do build iron pecs by doing endless repetitions of pushups? How about tree trunks for legs by doing bodyweight squats? While these exercises are awesome in their own right, they are simply insufficient and don't provide the needed resistance for you to grow the targeted muscles.
The same goes for your abs. I find it baffling that people to this day continue to do bodyweight sit-ups, thinking that it’s making their core stronger. While the high reps may be good for developing muscle endurance, it doesn’t create rock-hard strength that you can get from adding resistance.
With that in mind, here are a few good exercises for really hitting the abs.
Decline Weighted Sit-Ups
For an increase in motion and resistance, perform sit-ups on a decline bench with a weight plate in both hands. The plate can be held close to your body or with your arms straight as the demonstrator is doing in the video. As you get stronger, increase resistance by using a heavier plate and/or raising the decline.
Sit-Ups (Muay Thai Style)
You don’t have to train in MMA or combat sports to do muay thai sit-ups. Perform sit-ups as you normally would but have a partner strike you in the abdomen with a striking pad. Alternatively, your partner can also lightly strike your abdomen with a karate chop using about 50% force.
Rope Crunch Pulldowns
Kneel down in front of a cable pulldown machine, grab the rope, and pull down using your ab muscles. For maximum ab contraction, exhale as you’re pulling down. Watch the video below to see the way I like to perform them
When to Do Your Ab Training
It’s up to you when you train the abs. If weight training, then I suggest you perform them as the last exercise after completing the more important compound movements. If you’re doing interval training, then ab exercises can be done in place of your rest.
If you have done HIIT cardio and feel you are up for it, then perform the exercises in place of the brief 20 second rest. Be forewarned, though, this isn’t for the faint of heart. It will push your muscles and conditioning to the absolute limit.
Give Your Core the Workout of Its Life
Forget the sit-ups; add some serious resistance. If you’re not feeling the intense burn, then you’re not efficiently training your abs.
Remember, a total body workout – along with cardio – is what builds muscle and strips away the fat that gets your midsection showing.
Check out my program The Simple Shredded Solution for more information about burning fat and building muscles.