Your abs are like any other body part—to get results, you need to work them hard. That means dedicating a portion of your workout to moves that focus on all three abdominal regions. “We tend to treat the abs as an afterthought and simply devote a few minutes doing crunches after our ‘real’ training,” notes Hers technical adviser Gino Caccavale. But to sculpt a shapely six-pack, you need to train the abs like your legs, shoulders, or any other body part.
This routine, modeled by two-time Fitness Olympia and IFBB pro Oksana Grishina, will help you build a sexy midsection by emphasizing different muscle groups with each workout. Follow the plan on the previous page, choosing from the ab exercises in the given muscle groups below. Add 30 minutes of cardio daily to help burnfat. And don’t forget your diet: Watch your total caloric intake and macros. Otherwise, you’re not likely to get the results you want, adds Caccavale. In one month, you should see a noticeable difference in shape and definition for abs you’ll love!
YOUR FLAT-ABS WORKOUT PLAN
Back, glutes, transverse (2 sets) and rectus (3 sets)
Chest, obliques (3 sets), transverse (2 sets)
Arms, rectus (3 sets), transverse (2 sets)
Shoulders, obliques (3 sets), transverse (2 sets)
1. Transverse Abdominis
Begin in a full pushup position, feet hip-width apart with a 5-pound dumbbell in left hand. Rotate torso to left, reaching dumbbell above left shoulder with left arm extended, pivoting off both feet. Return to center and reach left arm below body, arm extended, drawing in abs and lifting hips slightly. Extend left arm back above left shoulder and repeat. Do two sets of 10 slow reps per side.
KEEP THE MOVEMENT SLOW AND UNDER CONTROL, PAUSING BRIEFLY AT THE TOP OF THE MOVEMENT AND THE BOTTOM OF THE TWIST TO MAXIMIZE YOUR RANGE OF MOTION.
Kneel on the floor with knees hipdistance apart, holding a medicine ball or weight in front of chest, elbows down. Keep head, shoulders, and hips aligned. Slowly lean back as far as you can, keeping hips forward without sitting on heels. Hold for 3 seconds, then slowly come back to starting position. Do two sets of 20 reps.
Ball Lock Hold
Lie faceup with right leg extended and left knee bent above hip and calf parallel to floor. Place a med ball or yoga block between left knee and elbow. Lift right leg 6 inches off the floor, foot flexed. Keeping left upper arm perpendicular to floor, isometrically press ball between elbow and knee; hold for one minute. Repeat on opposite side.
Stability-Ball Wrist Roll
Get in a plank position on a stability ball, palms together and elbows below shoulders. Slowly roll wrists in a circular motion, pushing hands forward at center of movement. Do 10 rolls clockwise and 10 rolls counterclockwise. Do two sets of 20 reps (10 each way).
Standing Band Pulse
Attach a resistance band to a sturdy piece of equipment (or use cables set to chin height). Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width holding the handle just below chin height, knees slightly bent. Keeping arms extended, pulse 12 inches past right shoulder, returning 12 inches past left shoulder. (Think 10 and 2 on a clock face). Do two sets of 20 reps per side.
2. Rectus Abdominis
Lying Dumbbell Crunch
Lie faceup, left ankle crossed over right knee, right arm extended behind head holding light dumbbell in right hand a few inches from floor. Lift right shin parallel to floor. Keeping right arm straight and right foot elevated, crunch up, bringing right hand toward left shin, lifting head and upper back off the floor. Keep left hand on floor at side. Do 20 crunches, keeping head and feet lifted; switch sides and repeat. Do 2–3 sets per side.
Overhead Barbell Situp
Lie faceup on floor holding up to a 20-pound barbell or Body Bar over shoulders, arms extended. Lift head and neck off floor, engaging abs. Sit up, lifting torso and barbell upward until upper body is perpendicular to floor. Slowly lower back to start, keeping abs engaged. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps.
Lying Dumbbell Leg Raise
Lie faceup on floor with elbows bent 90 degrees, forearms and palms down next to sides. Place a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell between arches of feet with legs extended and slightly bent off floor. While pushing upper body off forearms, lift torso until it is in a V position. Lower weight and legs back to start. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps.
Weighted Reach and Tuck
Begin in a full pushup position with an ankle weight around left leg. Hold a 5-pound dumbbell in right hand. Lift left leg off the floor while extending right arm forward to shoulder height and back leg parallel to floor. Draw right elbow and left knee toward chest, tucking abs and raising hips slightly. Straighten arm and leg back to start and repeat. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps per side.
Overhead Ball Floor Tap
Lie faceup on floor holding a medicine ball overhead with elbows facing ceiling. Sit up explosively, bringing legs into a wide V and lifting feet; tap ball on floor between legs. Lower back to start, tapping ball on floor behind you with arms extended. Repeat, doing 2–3 sets of 20 reps.
Seated Alternate-Side Ball Slam
Sit on the end of a flat bench, knees bent 90 degrees and feet lifted. Hold an 8- to 12-pound med ball in front of you at chest height, elbows bent and pointing down. Twist torso to right; as you turn, slam ball into floor and catch it. Immediately twist to left, slamming ball to opposite side. Repeat twists from side to side, without pausing in the center, keeping feet elevated throughout. Do 2–3 sets of 40 slams (20 per side).
Lying Side Crunch
Lie on right side with legs stacked. Place left fingers behind head, keeping right arm on floor with elbow below shoulder. Lift legs and torso off floor, crunching left elbow toward top of left knee. Lower back to start without allowing feet or shoulder to touch floor. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps per side.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder distance apart, holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of you. Keeping arms straight, bend knees, reaching weight toward left foot. Bring arms across body, twisting torso to the right and raising weight to outside of your right ear. Lower weight back toward left foot and repeat. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps per side.
WHAT ABOUT PLANKS?
Planking is great for working the transverse abdominals, posture, and isometric strength and core stability. Planking after cardio, or as active rest between sets, can be very beneficial. But to fully develop the core, you need to overload it, says Caccavale. That means adding weight or resistance and taking the muscles through their full range of motion.
Weighted Side Bench Pulse
Begin in a side plank with left elbow on a flat bench and right foot in front of left. Hold a 10- to 20-pound dumbbell in right hand, keeping arm on outside of right thigh. Pulse torso six inches toward floor, then six inches up past starting point, keeping dumbbell in place. Do 2–3 sets of 20 pulses per side.
Windshield Wiper Lie faceup with your shoulders and upper back on a stability ball, feet on floor slightly wider than hip distance with hips lifted into a tabletop position. Hold a medicine ball above chest with arms extended. Lower ball to right side, rotating torso to the right and lifting left shoulder off ball, until both arms are parallel to floor. Keeping core engaged, return to center and rotate to the left, lifting right shoulder off ball until arms are parallel to floor on left side. Do 2–3 sets of 20 reps per side.
All About Your Abs
- TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS
THE DEEPEST LEVEL OF ABDOMINAL MUSCLES IS LOCATED UNDER THE OBLIQUES, WRAPPING AROUND YOUR SPINE. THE TRANSVERSE WORKS TO STABILIZE THE ENTIRE MIDSECTION OR TRUNK OF THE BODY, PROTECTING THE INTERNAL ORGANS.
- RECTUS ABDOMINIS
THIS IS THE GROUP OF MUSCLES THAT GIVE US THE SIX-PACK APPEARANCE. IT’S LOCATED IN FRONT OF THE BODY BETWEEN THE RIBS AND THE PUBIC BONE.
- EXTERNAL OBLIQUES
THESE MUSCLES ARE LOCATED ON EACH SIDE OF THE RECTUS. THEY GIVE THE TRUNK STABILITY WHEN TWISTING AND CONTRACT OPPOSITE THE SIDE TWISTING. (FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN THE BODY TURNS TO THE RIGHT, THE LEFT EXTERNAL OBLIQUE CONTRACTS.)
- INTERNAL OBLIQUES
THIS MUSCLE GROUP BORDERS THE RECTUS ABDOMINIS, LOCATED UNDERNEATH THE EXTERNAL OBLIQUES. THESE MUSCLES ALSO AID AND STABILIZE IN TWISTING MOVEMENTS.