SURE, THE AMOUNT of detail in your abs is most directly related to what you stuff down your gullet. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that training them hard has somehow gone out of style.
If you expect to have a midsection worth showing off, it’s crucial to blast your abs with challenging and constantly varying workouts. Too often, we get stuck in the same remedial array of exercises, sets and reps, allowing the miracle of adaptation to rob us of any potential gains in muscle quality. By stepping things up and implementing more intense training protocols, you can swiftly enhance the appearance of your six-pack—or get it to show up for the first time.
Don’t rest between exercises on either superset. Simply alternate exercises until five total supersets have been completed. Rest 1–2 minutes between Supersets 1 and 2.
1. Ab Wheel Rollout
Sets – 5
Reps – 10
Wheel it in: One of the few infomercial products to have come out in the last two decades that has actually worked is the ab wheel. Sure, you can easily replicate its benefits with a barbell and a couple of 15kg plates, but the narrow and less stable construct of the wheel helps to better engage more of your core musculature, which this minimalist workout targets first. A properly performed rep on the ab wheel hits your rectus abdominis from top to bottom, while also engaging your deeper transverse abdominis.
Sets – 5
Reps – Hold for 30 sec.
Plank it up: The plank may not be as alluring as dragon flags or inverted sit-ups, but it holds value beyond the gym’s flavor of the week or your favorite Rocky training montage. Because planks increase positional strength along your transverse abdominis, they condition your abs to hold closer to your spine at rest. This will leave you with a flatter stomach and, probably, a few pairs of saggy jeans to chuck into the Goodwill bag. By supersetting this with the ab wheel for 30 seconds at a time, your transverse abs—the deep core muscles—get a double dose of exhausting but waistline-whittling work.
Superset No. 2
1. Double Crunch
Sets – 5
Reps – 12-15
Double up: Don’t think the double crunch is tough? Try this exercise, which combines a standard crunch and a reverse crunch, after five supersets consisting of ab wheels and planks. Where most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at 12–15 reps of this top-to-bottom ab shredder, doing this many while fatigued usually means true failure—something often marginalized in ab routines.
2. Lying Windshield Wiper
Sets – 5
Reps – 8-10 (each side)
Wipe it: The windshield wiper is a great way to rein in your lower abs and obliques, both of which can be trouble areas. Your lower abs have to fire to hold your legs in position, and your obliques are responsible for starting and stopping momentum on each rep. Twist only as far as needed to feel a stretch in your obliques. Don’t allow your feet to touch the ground in the down position. This kills the tension in your abs.