Training

Beach Body Project: Best Ab Circuits

Summer is right around the corner and if you’re looking to attract some positive attention your way while on the beach, you better be able to break out the six-pack. I’m not talking about a six-pack of your favourite beer either. Both men and women love to see the opposite sex with a sleek and shredded core. Unfortunately, the stomach is one of the hardest areas to perfect. Why? You lose fat in a top and bottom fashion with the abdominal section coming in dead last. Before you ask: No, you can’t spot treat!

Don’t be that guy on the beach that refuses to take off his “Go Big or Go Home” t-shirt. If you want to turn heads, it’s time to get serious and follow this fool proof plan to your summer six-pack.

MUFFIN TOP TO WASHBOARD

Despite what you may have heard in the locker room, earning that six-pack isn’t about doing hundreds of crunches each and every day. You can do as many sit-ups, crunches, and planks as you want but if you aren’t eating for abs then you aren’t going to get them. Having a sculpted abdominal area is all about a well-balanced diet that is catered to YOU. None of this one-size-fits-all nonsense. A hard gainer is not going to be eating the same caloric content as someone who easily gains weight.

Once you obtain the ideal meal planner, you are going to need to utilise the right ratio of resistance exercises and cardiovascular training. Despite what these old school bros are telling you, not all abdominal exercises are created equal. Before we jump into all that, let’s review WHY you need to be training your abdominals and core.

ADVANTAGES OF AB & CORE TRAINING

While a sculpted stomach is packed with sex appeal, there are also a number of practical advantages to training your core.

Protection

  • Your abdominal muscles act as a protective barrier for your internal organs. This is extremely important if you are involved in high impact sports such as boxing.

Reduced Risk of Injury

  • All movement originates from where? You guessed it. The core! Having a strong core offers you a reduced risk of injury while performing ordinary movements such as bending down to pick something up.

Eliminates Pain

  • One of the most common complaints for aches and pains is focused in the lower back, an important foundation for the core. By strengthening your core, you are ensuring yourself protection and a pain-free lifestyle.

BREAKING DOWN YOUR ABS

Upper Rectus Abdominis

  • Referred to as the “abs”
  • Centre of the stomach
  • Made up of upper and lower sections

External Obliques

  • Surface level muscle
  • On the sides of your body

Internal Obliques

  • Deep level muscle tissue
  • Found underneath the external obliques

Rectus Femoris

  • Hip flexor muscle (that becomes activated during certain abdominal movements)
  • Quadriceps-based muscle

LOWER BACK LAYOUT

Extensors

  • Attached to the back of the spine
  • Involve larger groups such as the erector spinae and gluteal muscles

Flexors

  • Attached to the front of the spine
  • Includes the abdominal muscles

Obliques

  • Enables rotational movements

HOW TO EFFECTIVELY TRAIN ABS & CORE

Let’s take a look at top mistakes that you’ll see taking place in gyms around the world. I’ll also cover how to correct these mistakes for maximum gains.

Don’t Forget the Plates

You add weight to virtually every other exercise so why do you stop when training your abs and core? Building muscle is about tearing down and rebuilding muscle tissue. Just like your chest, quadriceps, and biceps, if you want abs that pop, you need to add plates to your routine.

Isolation is Key

Yes, while you are doing compound movements, such as the Deadlift, you are activating your core. The trouble is that this is purely a functional activation. This means that you are strengthening your core, not building it up to make it pop out like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. You need to give your abdominals and core their own time in the spotlight if you want to achieve that shredded look for summer.

Crank Up the Intensity

Unlike your strength and power sets of bench press, when it comes to your abdominals, they respond best to high intensity, heavy weight, and very short rest breaks. You can hit all three with H.I.I.T. High intensity interval training involves taking a series of isolated abs exercises and performing them one after another with no rest until you complete one full round. Studies show that H.I.I.T. is ideal for fat burning and muscle building. This is going to be critical if you want your abs to grow while shedding the fat around them.

THE COMPREHENSIVE BODY VISION AB PROGRAMME

Now that I’ve discussed everything you’ll need to succeed, it’s time to reveal my comprehensive Body Vision programme that is sure to reveal that shredded six-pack.

Ab Circuit 1:

All 3 exercises below are performed back to back, with no break in between. Once a round is complete, take a 90 second break and then start again.

Complete 4 rounds of:

 

1. Hanging Leg Raises – 15 repetitions

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– Hang from a chin up bar.

– Engage your core by drawing your tummy in and pelvic floor (the muscle you would use to stop yourself from peeing) up with 30% effort.

– Keep your legs straight down, under your upper body. This is the correct start position.

– Without allowing your body to swing curve your lower back forward and lift your legs as high as you can while keeping your core engaged.

– Lower back down under control until your legs are back into your starting position. Don\’t use any momentum.

 

2. Cable Oblique Rotations – 10L / 10R repetitions

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– Standing parallel next to a cable machine, with feet being shoulder width apart.

– Grip the handle with both hands and leave some distance from the machine.

– Start with your upper body twisted, facing the cable but lower body facing forward 12 o clock.

– Rotate your body 180 degrees (opposite side), keeping your arms fully extended and feet in the same position.

– When performing the exercise make sure your obliques (side parts of your core) are engaged and making the rotation movement.

– When done turn the other side and swap rotation directions.

3. Cable Crunches – 15 repetitions

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– Being on your knees in front of the cable machine.

– Hold on the ropes and keep your arms over head and slightly flexed.

– At starting position keep your core stretched (back arched – hyperextended).

– Bring your hips and glutes inwards to create flexion of the spine (back curved) to engage your core and start contracting your abdominals.

– Pull the ropes downwards aiming your knees with your elbows to work the concentric phase of the rep.

– Whilst pulling down, create movement with your abdominals and not with arms. Just imagine you\’re trying to bring the bottom. line of your chest (Point A) folded on (Point B) you’re belly button.

– On the way up make sure you stretch your abs and pop glutes and hips outwards (back arched).

– Repeat.


Ab Circuit 2:

All 3 exercises below are performed back to back, with no break in between. Once a round is complete, take a 90 second break and then start again.

Complete 4 rounds of:

 

1. Weighted Decline Sit Ups – 15 repetitions

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– Lie on a decline bench and hold a weighted plate above your face, parallel to your body.

– Keep your arms fully extended and make sure your grip is tight.

– Start with a slight crunch before the sit up to isolate your abdominals and feel them contract.

– Once you feel your abdominals contract, sit up and bring the plate overhead to complete the repetition.

– Lower your body down to the bench (starting position), with a slow tempo and bring the plate above your face.

– Then repeat.

 

2. Landminers – 20 repetitions

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– Place one end of the bar in a corner whilst you’re holding the other end in front of you a bit higher than eye level.

– Keep your arms extended in front with your elbows being slightly relaxed.

– Holding the bar with both arms start rotating the bar from side to side till bar reaches your hip level. (creating a half circle motion).

– Generate movement with hips and obliques (side part of abdominal area) not with arms.

 

3. Ab-Roll Outs – 15 repetitions

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– Being on your knees, bending your hips with hands shoulder width apart on a barbell that is just forward of your shoulders on the ground.

– Engage your core by drawing your tummy in and pelvic floor muscle (the muscle you would use to stop yourself from peeing) up with 30% effort.

– Roll the barbell forward with the movement coming from your hips. Fully extend your body. Keep your head in a neutral position so that you are looking at the floor.

– With the movement coming from your hips, move back until your bum is raised in the top position once again.


Ab Circuit 3:

All 3 exercises below are performed back to back, with no break in between. Once a round is complete, take a 90 second break and then start again.

Complete 4 rounds of:

 

1. TRX Body Saw – 10 repetitions

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– With feet planted and positioned correctly within the TRX suspension bands.

– Keep your body into a plank position, core and glutes contracted to prevent hyperextension of the spine.

– Shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be in one straight line.

– With your elbows/fists being steady on the floor, push your body backwards and “rock” until you feel your core stretching.

– Return to starting position by “rocking” forward with a controlled tempo and keep your core contracted at all times.

 

2. Commando Plank – 10 repetitions

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– Lay on your front and place your forarms and palms flat on the floor.

– Lift your chest, stomach and legs off the floor and maintain your balance between your forearms and toes.

– Keep a straight line from your shoulders, across your back to your feet.

– Being in a plank position get into a press up position alternating arms.

– Keep your core engaged at all times and don’t let your back hyperextend. (don’t let your glutes fall under hip line).

 

3. Pendulums – 20 repetitions

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– Lie on the floor with your hands being fully extended on each side and pressing down for balance.

– Lift your legs up and create an “L” shape with your upper body (90 degrees).

– Keeping your legs fully extended (knees locked), lower them slowly from left to right and vice versa, to make your core rotate from side to side.

– Don’t let your feet touch the floor as executing the exercise. To make the exercise easier in the beginning you can bend your knees a bit to regress the lever.

 

4. Mountain Climbers – 20 seconds

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– Start with your hands and feet on the ground and body extended (press up position). You should be facing downwards. Bring one foot forward with a bend at your knee.

– Quickly switch the position of your legs, so that the extended leg comes up towards your chest and the bent leg extends out behind your hips.

– Repeat this leg switch as quickly as you can whilst keeping your back straight and chest pushed out.

– Keep your head in a neutral position throughout the movement.


 

Frequency of Training

Perform and combine all 3 abdominal circuits above in one session, 2-3 times a week.

Would you like to get a different abdominal routine every month?

–> This is what you’re looking for! <–

Carry out the workout above and enjoy the gains for summer 2015!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nikos Saklabanakis

Nikos Saklabanakis

Being passionate about health and fitness enables me to achieve my all time goal of guiding and supporting people through achieving their personal fitness dreams and being a significant part of dramatically changing their lives for the better.

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