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When it comes to training your core, there are usually two schools of thought; one group says direct ab work is un-necessary because big compound lifts demand enough from your core muscles while the other insists it’s totally necessary to boost performance. Both have valid points and arguments and can talk your ear off with facts, references etc.
But here’s another shocking fact – 80% of these chumps don’t rock a solid six-pack, and that makes listening to them slightly challenging. It’s like taking advice from a fatty trainer… how can you take them seriously?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, my best physical asset are my abs and yet, it’s the one muscle group I hate working the most. But why do I rock such an impressive cheese grater where my stomach should be? Easy. One, because I’m awesome, two I have proper eating habits and three, I transition between direct ab work with functional ab work.
That last point is key. I’ve heard a few strength coaches knock on crunches claiming that there is no sport which requires such a small ROM (range of motion) so working your abs in that fashion is a useless waste of time. Functionally, they are right but weighted crunches really kick the shit out of my upper abs and since were going for aesthetics as well as performance, it’s not something I’ll be dumping from my training anytime soon.
If you’re an avid reader of mine (you should be!) then you may recall the intense ab routine I had created. That was all direct ab work… which is not to say you won’t see an improvement in pretty much every fucking sport imaginable. Except maybe darts, or chess.
However, the routine I have for you today consists of ab exercises that are focused on increasing performance first, but they will also give you a nice six pack that can cause a bit of jealousy when you’re out at the beach.
Functional Ab Blast
Cable Wood Chop
Reps: 15-20, Sets: 2, Tempo: 21X1
I really can’t think of a single athlete in a single sport that won’t benefit from doing these. Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis etc. It hits all the major core muscles: rectus abdominis, obliques and the spinal erectors.
As you can see, the execution is pretty simple. One thing I will say is that don’t try and be a hero and attempt a high ass load, it’s completely un-necessary. A clean rep with full ROM while focusing on squeezing your core will do more for you than doing some retarded pulling motion while trying to impress everyone with 150lbs worth of plates loaded up. No one will give a shit, and that hottie who’s squatting in the corner? Yeah, her pants won’t magically fall off either.
Reverse Wood Chop
Reps: 15-20, Sets: 2, Tempo: 21X1
What can I say? It’s just as important as the one above. The idiot warning still applies – don’t try and pull too heavy.
(Hanging) Leg Wipers
Reps: 8-10, Sets: 2, Tempo: Fast
This one is tough, and most of you will therefore have to do it while lying down on your back. But the motion remains the same, you keep your feet together and they go from left to right (like a windshield wiper, duh) and that counts as one rep.
One thing you want to be aware of is the sudden drop. If you’ve never done this exercise before or if your core is weak, you’ll notice that as you start to go towards one side, your legs suddenly DROP to the floor. Be aware of this and take it real slow till you develop proper control, then you can speed things up.
Also, don’t let your feet drop in front of you. This means a spectator should get a glorious view of your ass while you’re doing leg wipers (a concept expertly demonstrated by the chick in the pink booty shorts).
Medicine Ball Throws
Reps: 20-30, Sets: 2, Tempo: Fast
Obviously, pick a proper amount of resistance. Don’t start with a 20lbs ball when you can barely crunch with a 7 pounder. Start with a 5lbs ball and see how it goes. Another thing you might need is a partner to catch the ball and throw it back to you – but that’s only if you throw like a sissy girl, causing the ball to not bounce back to you.
Oh and anchor those legs somewhere, that’s important too. Or you’ll end up looking like you’re doing a retarded V-Snap.
Reps: 15-20, Sets: 2, Tempo: Medium
While this dude is only turning to one side, the exercise in fact demands you turn to both sides then return to the starting position. This constitutes as one rep. So yes, 20 is really 40. Bring your A game.
Also, while a weight plate is being used in the picture, you can pretty much substitute it for anything that has some mass; medicine balls, small pets, children, midgets, starving runway models, weapons of mass destruction etc.
Another slight variation of this is the “Rotating Landmines” or as I like to call them, Barbell Core Twists. Either way, same shit and you can find an excellent video of them, demonstrated by Bret Contreras HERE
Wheel (Or Barbell) Roll Outs
Reps: 12-15, Sets: 2, Tempo: 31X1
As far as equipment goes, you can use a barbell with plates, the cheap ab rollers or some other permutation that will let you roll out. However, I highly suggest you pick yourself up a Powerwheel from Lifeline USA. It’s the best ab wheel I’ve ever used and it can go on your feet allowing you to do reverse inch worms and a boat load of other great ab exercises.
The exercise is simple enough, but one recommendation would be to have your feet anchored or have a partner hold em’ down because as you start to roll further, the ankles will start to magically levitate. Follow the tempo given above and you’ll be puking buckets in no time. Err, I mean you’ll be on your way to a well developed midsection.
Where Does Direct Training Fit In?
My golden rule is this: Functional training followed by direct ab work. Either on the same day or following days. If you want to do it on the same day, try the following exercise order:
Woodchop, Leg Wipers, Medicine Ball Throws, Weighted Crunches, Decline Leg Raises, Oblique Crunches. Three compound/functional exercises followed by three direct and more “focused” exercises.
Is this the ONLY way to build a solid six pack? No. But it’s the way I’ve done it, it’s the way I’ve been doing it and it’s the way I’ll keep doing it because it’s what gets eyeballs on my body when the shirt comes off. Don’t ignore direct ab work, but don’t forget functional ab work as well. Both should have their place in your routine… as long as a kick ass stomach is part of your gameplan.
…and it better well should be.
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