Overhaul Your Abs
Your summer six-pack starts with this periodized eight-week program that rebuilds your core from the inside out.
By Alexander Cortes | Photos by Robert Reiff
With spring comes panic. All winter, you’ve been eating, lifting heavy and focusing on building muscle — meaning you haven’t thought about your abs since September. Luckily, there’s still time left before your shirt comes off.
To do this right, you have to develop your abdominal muscles with biometric assets in mind. Forget upper, lower and obliques. We are talking about stability, strength and power. Developing these elements of fitness in your abs is actually a shortcut to your optimal summer physique. For instance, when you develop real power in your midsection, you’ll be able to handle heavier loads in the gym, which reaps the kind of definition that’ll show the world you’ve spent the spring months putting in some serious work.
The Trouble With Conventional Programs
Abdominals serve a variety of different purposes. They stabilize, flex, extend, rotate and brace your spine. Most ab programming, however, is constructed at random and lacks any kind of progression. Would you try to build your biceps by curling only 20-pound dumbbells for six months? No, you wouldn’t, and it’s a major training fallacy to think you can develop an impressive midsection by doing the same exercises every week for endless reps. When you only train your abs in one range of motion, you’re leaving far too much strength, hypertrophy and definition on the table.
To make real improvements, you need to increase the degree of difficulty of the ab movements you’re capable of performing. The hardness and tonicity of any muscle is determined by that muscle’s strength. Although your abs can’t continuously grow, they can continuously get stronger. This means you’ll have greater definition and deeper cuts when you diet down. To make this happen, though, the continuum of movements you do for your abs must get more difficult and demand more strength. At the same time, it’s crucial to maximize the effectiveness of the movements you’re performing.
The muscles in your midsection are capable of handling a large volume of work, and they adapt rapidly to training stimulus, so rotating exercises will help negate any chance of a plateau occurring. Along with this, you’ll keep progressing your exercises to get stronger each week, meaning you’ll finish this program with significantly stronger and tighter abs.
Over the course of this eight-week program, you’ll train your abs three times a week, rotating exercises every two weeks. There’s a reason behind changing the exercises so frequently. This is a fully periodized regimen that starts out with basic stabilization strength and progresses to highly advanced core movements that will shred your midsection from the inside out. Instead of staying strictly bodybuilding-centric or veering into the “functional” end of things, we’re combining the best of both into a comprehensive program.