Build Awesome Abs in 3 Simple Steps

I can’t do the work for you but if you follow these guidelines you can build awesome abs. 

Hiding underneath the layer of potential energy wrapped around your waist lurks the 6-pack that everyone wants. They are one of the most difficult parts of the body to achieve (for most). To be honest, yes genetics do play a role, but stop with that excuse right now. Anyone can get them to shine. It is a matter of developing the muscle and trimming the fat. Let’s get to it!

I am going to give you the 3 main steps to take to get that sexy core and a workout you can start following now.

3. Do The Big Core Exercises

The most effective exercise for building a great core are probably not what you expect. Prioritize the big movements; squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. These movements pack tremendous value. If you are doing them correctly, they place an intense demand on the entire core. The front squat in particular is a killer ab exercise. Your core has to work hard to keep you in an upright position when you are load baring in front of your body. The deadlift, especially the Romanian deadlift, is my favorite for the posterior chain (the whole backside of the body). Working the posterior chain is mandatory. Train it often. Do each of these moves 1-2x every week.

2. Training Your abs The Right Way

You do not need to train your abs every day. 3-4 days per week is the most you need to do. Doing 1,000 crunches is not going to get you anywhere. Your ab specific routine should take no more than 10 minutes, so stop spending a whole workout on your belly. Specific ab training is to be done at the end of your workout session. Focus on the form of each exercise.  Your reps should be slow and controlled.  Your rest periods need to be short.

1. Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

And the number one step towards shred city is in the kitchen. You can not out work your bad diet. If you are rewarding yourself for a good workout with a Big Mac, those abs are going to stay in hibernation. To get that six-pack, you will have to drop somebody fat %. Here are a few keys to a good diet.

  1. 3 servings of vegetables
  2. Plenty of water. The exact amount depends on the person and the demands of their daily activities. 80-100 oz will be plenty for most of us
  3. Eat lots of protein. Supplement with a good whey protein.
  4. Eat healthy fats
  5. Follow a time restricted diet. This is the easiest thing you can implement that by itself will give you great results. Read up on it here.

Shred City workout

You can do this workout at home, on the road, or at the gym. One of the most important components of this workout is the amount of rest you take between sets. They are going to be short because the type of muscle fibers the abs are made of have a lot of endurance, which means you have to keep them under tension in order to make any changes.

Beginner

2-3 rounds:

  • :20 plank on your elbows – squeeze your abs, quads, and glutes as tight as possible. Remember to breathe. If you are shaking like a jack hammer, good!
  • 12 Leg raises. Go slow. Each rep should take :03-:05. Keep your back flat on the ground. For the love of God, do not let me catch you with your hands underneath your butt. Doing so will render the exercise ineffective.
  • 5 Side plank raises each side. Each rep should take :03-:05
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

Intermediate

3 rounds:

  • 12 Ab roll outs. The ab wheel is amazing. This is the best exercise I have found for developing the abs. Most people do not have the core strength to do this effectively, though they think they do. If it is hurting your back, that’s a good sign you are not ready for this movement. I do not advise this move for beginners but once you have worked up the core strength to do this move correctly, it is an absolute must.
  • 24 Windshield wipers. This is a diagonal leg raise that works both the rectus abdominous and the obliques. Each rep should take :03
  • 60 mountain climbers. Maintain flat back and draw your knee to your elbow. You should be able to touch your elbow.
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

Advanced

3 rounds:

  • 12 Strict toes to bar (slower the better. Scale to knees to chest once you can no longer achieve the toes to bar)
  • 12 Ab roll outs. At this point, you should be able to make full contact with the ground each rep.
  • :30 side plank each side
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

*important complimentary exercises: supermans, back extensions, hip extensions, bird dogs

  • These are important to incorporate. Your workout routine should be balanced, so if you are working one muscle group or plane of motion, you need to work the other.

It takes a lot of work but the process is pretty straight forward. Anyone can build ridiculous abs!

Thank you for reading! I hope this article was helpful. If you have a question or need anything please comment below! I’m happy to help.

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Clay Henderson

Clay Henderson is a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 12 years experience. He owns multiple fitness business. He is also a fitness blogger and online trainer and fitness program designer.

  • I have never had a six pack so this is good information for me. For the beginner, 60 mountain climbers sounds like a lot. Is there a basic level of fitness that is needed before trying any of these?
    I have tried the ab roller wheel in the past and it is great but definitely tough if you don’t already have a strong back.
    I have sciatic nerve issues. Are these routines all ok with sciatic issues?

    • Clay Henderson says:

      Curtis – Thank you for the comments. Those are great questions to address.
      1. Is there a basic level of fitness that is needed before trying any of these?
      Yes, you need to have some exercise experience before the beginner routine. For people who are just starting to exercise, I would encourage them not to worry about ab routines. They should be focused on aerobic exercises like walking, biking, or swimming, and some basic resistance training.
      2. The volume of the exercises (like the 60 mountain climbers) is relative to our individual fitness level. 60 may be nothing for ‘Super star Sally’ but way too much for Bob who hasn’t worked out 30 years. The solution is just to scale it down. If the first routine is a bit much, then make it a bench mark to work towards. The best way to tell if the reps are too high, is if your form begins to suffer. When your form can no longer hold up, we need to take a break.
      3. The ab wheel is a great piece of equipment but it is an intermediate to advanced exercise. It requires a strong core, anterior and posterior. If we are lacking core strength, it can place too much strain on the lumber spine. Once you have strengthened your core, this won’t be a problem.
      4. I have sciatic nerve issues. Are these routines all ok with sciatic issues? First, I recommend you ask your doctor in regards to whether or not these exercises are safe with your condition. (If your doctor does not know what these exercises are, find a new one ASAP!). I personally am prone to sciatic nerve issues. A few of my clients are as well. For me, I have found that a lack of stretching and recovery is what triggers the issues. These ab movements have not caused any problems.

      If you have sciatic trouble, it is important you regularly stretch your hamstrings and glutes.

      Hope that helped. Thank you Curtis!

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