Apart from following a diet made up exclusively of pizza and beer, the worst mistake a man can make when training for abs is clinging to the same old exercises for way too long. Crunches, situps, and planks are fine, but they’re not the only tools you need to sharpen your midsection.
The good news? Adding new abs moves to your workouts won’t necessarily add time to them. In fact, we’ll show you how to get more variety in your training in even less time than you’re used to.
How it works
Your core (the abs and lower-back muscles that work in conjunction with them) is complex. In addition to bending your torso forward, as in a situp, your core is also responsible for straightening and extending your spine, as well as twisting your torso and hips, and stabilizing your body. Unless you train all these functions, you won’t develop your core completely. To help you forge the strongest, most defined core possible, we’ve put together three different circuits of three moves each that work the core from all angles. You’ll do the exercises without rest in-between, which raises your heart rate and accelerates fat loss. After all, no matter how ripped your abs are, you won’t see all that progress if they’re covered in fat.
Just tack these circuits onto the end of your normal workouts.
Perform one of the three circuits (I, II, and III) at the end of each workout. (Use a different circuit each day.) Complete one set of each exercise in sequence, resting one minute after the last one. Repeat once more. After two weeks, increase the number of circuits: In Week 3, perform three circuits; in Week 4, do four circuits; then do five circuits in Week 5.
1. Hanging Legs Raise
Reps: 8–12 Rest: 0 sec.
Hang from a pullup bar with palms facing forward or each other—whichever is more comfortable. Contract your abs and raise your legs to meet the bar. Do it fast, as if you’re trying to kick the bar. Control the descent.
2. Abs Wheel Rollout [shown above]
Reps: 8–15 Rest: 0 sec.
Kneel on the floor and hold an abs wheel in front of you by its handles. The wheel should be directly under your shoulders. Brace your abs and roll the wheel forward until you feel you’re about to lose tension in your abs. Pull the wheel back.
3. Back Extension
Reps: 10–12 Rest: 60 sec.
Set up on a back extension bench so your legs are locked in place and the pad is under your hips. Bend your torso forward as far as you can without rounding your back. Then extend your hips until your torso is straight.
1. Landmine Twist
Reps: 8–10 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Wedge the end of a barbell into a corner (wrap it in a towel so you don't scrape up the walls) or a "landmine" apparatus. Hold the opposite end with both hands at arm’s length on the sleeve (the part where you load the plates). Swing the barbell to one side, lowering it to hip-level. Swing it to the other side. Roll your body back when you feel your abs are about to lose tension.
2. Seated Bicycle Crunch
Reps: 20–30 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Lie on your back on the floor, and place your hands by your ears. Crunch your torso up off the floor, and twist to your left side. Draw your left knee up to meet your right elbow. Reverse the motion, and repeat on the other side. You should look like you’re pedaling a bike. Don’t sacrifice range of motion for faster reps.
3. RKC Plank
Reps: Hold as long as possible Rest: 60 sec.
Get into pushup position, and place your forearms flat on the floor. Move your arms slightly forward so the bend in your elbows is greater than 90°. Brace your abs and lock your knees, feeling your quads contract. Squeeze your glutes. Now try to pull your elbows toward your knees—they shouldn’t move, but you’ll feel your core working harder. Hold this position for time.
1. Swiss Ball Rollout [shown above]
Reps: 10–12 Rest: 0 sec.
Kneel on the floor, and rest your forearms on a Swiss ball. The ball should be directly under your shoulders. Roll the ball forward, as you did with the abs wheel, until you’re about to lose tension in your abs, and then roll back.
2. Russian Twist
Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Sit on the floor with knees bent 90°, and extend your arms in front of you. Lean back a bit so your torso is 45° to the floor. Rotate your body as far as you can to the left, and then to the right.
3. Weighted Swiss Ball Crunch
Reps: 8–12 Rest: 60 sec.
Lie back on a Swiss ball, and hold a dumbbell on your chest with both hands. Your feet should be flat on the floor at a width that offers stability. Crunch your torso up off the ball, and hold two to three seconds.