The hard-core abs workout

The Savage Abs Workout Done At the World’s Most Hardcore Gym

The hard-core abs workout

I run Gym Jones, a place most people in the fitness industry consider one of the most elite, hardcore gyms in the world.

Anyone is welcome to visit, but your only way to be invited to stay is if you prove that you’ll work your absolute hardest, and leave no effort on the table in any workout.

People who cut corners and half-ass their workouts are either invited to leave or exit on their own volition.

We do this to create a culture that breeds the hardest work humanly possible—when everyone else is pushing themselves, you’ll push yourself, too. And those who do stick around? Each and and every one of them becomes insanely, unhumanly fit.

This culture of holding yourself to a higher standard has attracted everyone from pro athletes and actors, to special forces soldiers and average guys looking to become superhuman.

Our workouts—and the workouts in my new Men’s Health book Maximus Body—include everything from heavy lifting days, to vicious circuits, to rowing challenges that will bury you. Each of these workouts tends to work your entire body, and our goal is elite fitness, the ability to do everything well—becoming totally ripped is just a consequence of that goal.

Yet, every now and then, one of these men or women slip up. Feeling a bit lazy, one of them will come in and ask, “Can we just do an easy abs day today?”

Don’t tell me you want to do an “abs workout.” The truth is that when you train doing the exercises we do—functional exercises front squats, ball slams, rowing, and more—your core is always activated. So, by default, any workout that you do is an abs workout.

When I get that question, I have the person do this brutal abs workout. I call it: “Don’t Ask Me About Your Abs.” It surely isn’t easy, but it works. Your midsection will be sore for days—and you’ll be ripped as a result.

If you this workout, there are 100 more in my book, Maximus Body, which gives you direct access to my black book of fitness knowledge, and training strategies that make you mentally tougher (I use these often with my Special Forces soldiers). If you, too, are after elite, truly life-changing fitness, you’ll find just how to achieve it in the book.

Directions: Set a timer to go off every 30 seconds.

Do the following exercises in the order shown for 30 seconds each. Rest 30 seconds between exercises, but do 5 pushups during each “rest” period.

That’s 1 round. Do 3 total rounds.

1. Situp

Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the floor. Now perform a classic situp by raising your torso into a sitting position. Lower it back to the start.

2. Pushup position plank

Assume a pushup position, your torso completely straight. Hold the position for time.

3. V-sit kickout

Assume a V-sit position, your butt on the ground, knees bent at your chest and feet just above the floor. Your arms should be at your side, with your hands just above the floor. Slowly straighten your legs and lower your torso. Pause when your legs are straight, your feet and upper back just a few inches above the floor. Reverse the movement and repeat.

4. V-sit hold

Assume a V-sit position, your butt on the ground, knees bent at your chest and feet just above the floor. Your arms should be at your side, with your hands just above the floor. Hold the position for time.

5. Leg raise

Lie on your back with your hands at your sides. Raise your feet a few inches off the floor. This is the start. Keep your legs straight as you slowly raise them until they’re vertical. Slowly reverse the movement. That’s one rep.

6. Leg raise hold

Lie on your back, your hands at your sides and body straight. Raise your feet a few inches off the floor. Hold the position for time.

7. Toes to bar

Hang from a pullup bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Now raise your legs, brining your feet to your hands. Maintain an upright torso (don’t swing forward). Pause, and lower your legs slowly to the starting position.

8. Pushup position plank

Assume a pushup position, your torso completely straight. Hold the position for time.

For more savage workouts this, check out my new Men’s Health book Maximus Body!


Attack Your Abs Right With These Hardcore Core Exercises

The hard-core abs workout

You’ve seen them before on your gym’s class list: 30-minute-long, must-be-intense classes with names “Ab Lab,” “Absolution,” and, most tantalizingly, “Ass and Abs.

” late-night fitness infomercials, they promise to whittle your waist, improve your balance and posture, and flatten your stomach.

All of which sounds something more appropriate for women, so you keep scanning the schedule…Well, how wrong you are. 

These are core classes; and while many promise to make your six-pack pop, that’s just a surface look at what they’re all about. “Most people think core is an ab class, where you’re just doing crunches,” says Nyree Brown, a group fitness instructor at Equinox and a Brooklyn-based independent personal trainer.

“Your core isn’t just that six-pack. It’s all the muscles that surround and support your spine,” including the transverse abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus, spinal erectors, lats, glutes, and traps.

Collectively, they’re responsible for your posture and are the basis of your strength and power in sports and in the weight room. 

Here’s how to get hardcore about core strength.

How to Choose Your Core Session

Generally speaking, there are two common core-class styles: high-energy “washboard abs” versions, where the majority of time is spent on dynamic exercises crunches, situps, leg lifts, and rotational exercises Russian twists and woodchoppers; and more mellow, Pilates-style mat classes that focus on static holds planks, Supermans, and glute bridges, but spice them up with focused pulses that work deep-down muscles. Neither is objectively better—both will work your abs to exhaustion and, if taught correctly, give you a solid workout—so finding the right one is more about preference. 

In her experience, guys tend to gravitate toward the more dynamic classes, Brown says. “They aren’t as quick to do a low leg raise and hold as they are to do some sort of medicine ball exercise, because it looks harder—and cooler.” She has a point. 

To pick the right class, then, she suggests reading the description: Whereas kettlebells, medicine balls, and crunches are giveaways of a dynamic class, Pilates and planks scream static. (Though, whatever your preference, it’s not a bad idea to mix it up occasionally.)

When it comes to choosing an instructor, there are two guidelines. First, you want someone who takes the class beyond its “Athletic Abs” marketing gimmick and builds a balanced workout around all the core muscles. Second, you want someone who’s constantly moving around the room, correcting students’ alignment and form. “Be sure your instructor is as engaged as possible,” Brown advises. 

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Don’t Be a Douchebag 

Don’t go rogue. “When everyone in the room is doing a Russian twist, please don’t be planking,” Brown says— it throws off the class’s energy. “It’s the absolute worst! This isn’t a one-on-one session, and it’s not your own thing, It’s a class.”

The 8 Best Ways to Switch Up Your Plank >>>

Attack Your Abs Right

1) Know if You’re in the Wrong Place.

The whole point of a core class is to hit the core from every conceivable angle, says Brown, using “planks, spinal flexion, crunches, reverse crunches, situps, obliques with rotational exercises and bicycles, and, finally, erectors with some Supermans.” If it doesn’t do that, you need to find a new class.

2) Speak Up.

If an exercise feels uncomfortable, especially in your lower body, tell the instructor, who should be able to offer a modification so you’re not risking injury.

3) Slow Down.

It’s critical to perform dynamic exercises at a slow, steady pace, focusing on the target muscle through the entire range of motion. This is especially important when you start to get tired and other muscles try to make up for your fatigue. 

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Core Dos and Don’ts

Do: Let the instructor know ahead of time if you have any injuries, particularly to the lower back. That way he or she can modify exercises to suit you or, depending on the severity of your problem, send you away. In either case, your back will thank you. 

Don’t: Wear the same workout clothes you’ve been rocking for a week. “You don’t want to be the smelly one in the room,” says certified fitness trainer Donovan Green, author of No Excuses Fitness. “It’s embarrassing, and it makes your classmates uncomfortable.”

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Hardcore Ab Training

The hard-core abs workout

A great set of abs is a function of two factors – abdominal muscles and low bodyfat. A major factor is to have a low bodyfat level, usually below 9%, because the less fat on top of them, the more visible the abs.

As far as for which ab exercises to do, there are dozens of them but some of them work the midsection 100%. In fact scientists have an amazing tool called Electromyografy (EMG) that shows how much muscles work during specific exercises.

Scientists place electrodes over a muscle belly. The harder the muscle works, the more electricity is measured on the EMG.

EMG studies show that the best ab exercises are bench crunches, hanging leg raises, pulldown crunches, swiss ball crunches, vertical crunches (especially on a swiss ball) and swiss ball side cruches.

So I combine these marvelous exercises and use them in my training session two times a week. Beware that the above routine is for people who are somewhat advanced in their fitness level and have some experience doing ab exercises with proper form.

The main training session I do for my abs is pretty hardcore so please don't do it alone or without the proper guidance from a qualified trainer.

I do 4 giant sets, including all of these exercises I wrote before, with one minute rest between them in order to keep my heart rate high.

A giant set is a form of a very intense set that consists of various exercises and you do them all without rest between them.

After you are finished performing the whole series of exercises, you can rest a little, with the amount of rest depending on your fitness level. So I do:

As you can see, my ab routine consists of exercises on a Swiss ball. With Swiss balls, you can work through a greater range of motion, activate more muscle fibers than regular exercises, and therefore you can have very intense ab workouts when perfomed properly.

EXERCISE 1 Crunches

Lie flat on the floor with the legs over a bench so that the thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Cross the arms over the chest.

Don't place the arms behind the head, as there is a serious possibility to pull the body forward with the arms, thereby taking the focus off the abs and the chance of injuring the neck region increases.

Once you are in the proper starting position, simply raise your upper back off the floor very slowly and roll forward until you reach the end point of the movement.

EXERCISE 2 Hanging Leg Raises

Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and allow your body to hang freely. Keeping your legs straight and toes pointed, exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, avoiding the use of momentum until your body forms an “L” shape in mid-air. Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start.

EXERCISE 3 Cable Crunch

Use the rope attachement on the high cable pulley. Kneel facing the machine and grap hold of the rope and put your hands against your forehead. You then begin the exercise by slowly moving your body downwards in an arc, rounding your back and trying to get your elbows to touch your knees. Contract for 2 seconds hard and return to the starting position.

EXERCISE 4 Exercise Ball Crunch

Balance yourself on an exercise ball with your arms folded across your chest or behind your head, your focus on the ceiling and your feet flat on the floor.

Your starting position should find your back slightly arched over the curve of the ball. Exhale and slowly lift your upper body off the ball, keeping your focus high and your elbows wide.

Pause a moment in the topmost position before inhaling and slowly lowering yourself back to the start.

Position a bench near the Swiss ball so you be able to grab it. Lie on the ball with your hands over your head gripping the bench behind it, your back flat and your knees bent and held above your hips. This is your starting position.

From here, slowly curl your knees up and in toward your head, lifting first your tailbone, then your hips, off the ball. When your knees come to eye level, reverse the motion and slowly uncurl.

Pass the start position and extend your legs straight out and away from you, keeping your back stable on the ball and your shoulders down. Squeeze for a moment and come back to the start.

EXERCISE 5 Weighted Ball Side Bend

Lie on a Swiss ball, place your feet on the floor, knees bent and spread your legs so your feet are slightly more than shoulder width apart. Slowly raise your upper and mid back off the ball and turn to your right so you are in an oblique curl position. Squeeze for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.

EXERCISE 6 Reverse Crunch

I must mention again that this abdominal training routine is very demanding and you need to have a lot of experience in training methods and more than one year of fitness training.

Conclusion And Tips

I usually do the above training program in the summer when I want to have those hard-ripped abs, but one good training routine on its own is not good enough to achieve a fantastic midsection. Here are some tips that I'm sure are gonna help you to get those super ripped abs they did for me.

  • Diet is the most important factor when you are trying to get the sixpack look. Try to have a diet that is high protein with moderate to low carbohydrate and fat intake, spread over 5-6 meals throughout the day.
  • Begin a training program for each bodypart to develop your overall muscle mass and increase your basal metabolic rate.
  • Try not to eat carbohydrates in your last meal of the day as the are ly to be stored as bodyfat. In fact, it's best not to eat them after 6 pm.
  • Do as much cardio as you can. Try to do some form of cardio at least six days a week for 40-45 minutes.
  • Use a thermogenic product from a reputable company, as it going to help you burn more calories than usual.
  • Cut dairy products as they are gonna make you keep water and make you puffy.

I'm sure by doing this ab routine and using all of the above tips you will be on the right path to get a hard ripped six-pack and make everyone envy you on the beach this summer. Good luck with the program!


14 Best Core Workouts For Women – Core Exercises For Stronger Abs

The hard-core abs workout

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: Mat, dumbbells

Good for: Core

Instructions: Choose one exercise from each group below, for a full core workout:

A: Deadbug bodyweight, kettlebell bridge pullover, kettlebell deadbug pullover, single-arm floor press deadbug, glute bridge march

B: Side plank, stability ball rollout, inchworm, bird dog, bear crawl, stability ball stir the pot

C: Unilateral dumbbell march

Complete three sets of the indicated number of reps for each move. Once you've completed all sets of one move, continue to the next, in ABC order. Alternatively, incorporate these core exercises into a full-body routine.

1. Single-Arm Press

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Extend your right arm out to your side at a 45-degree angle from your body while you rack the dumbbell to your right shoulder.

This is your starting position. Brace your core and begin to raise the weight overhead, keeping your bicep close to your ear and palm facing toward you. Return to start. That's one rep. Continue for 10 reps on each side.

2. Deadbug

How to: Lie on your back with your arms extended over your chest and legs bent 90 degrees (knees above hips).

Keep your low back pressed to the floor, brace your core, then slowly and simultaneously extend and lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches floor and your left arm until your hand nearly touches floor overhead.

Pause, then return to start and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps.

3. Glute Bridge March

How to: Lie on your back with your legs bent, heels under knees, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms over your chest, palms facing.

Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Brace your abs and lift your right knee over your hip, maintaining 90-degree angle of that leg. Hold for a moment, then lower your right foot.

Repeat with the left. That's one rep. Complete 12 reps.

4. Side Plank

How to: Lay on your side with your right forearm flat on the floor, elbow under your shoulder, and both legs extended, forming a straight line from your head to your feet. Feet can either be staggered for more stability, or stacked for more of a challenge. Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

5. Inchworm

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend over and touch the floor in front of your feet with both hands.

Keeping your legs as straight as possible and core tight, walk your hands forward, without letting your hips drop, until you reach a high plank position. Pause, then slowly walk your feet toward your hands.

That's one rep. Complete 10 reps.

6. Bird Dog

How to: Get on all fours with your wrists stacked directly under your shoulders and knees under hips.

Keeping your back flat, core engaged, and a slight bend in your elbows, extend your left arm out in front of you at shoulder height and your right leg straight behind you at hip height.

With control, bring your extended leg back underneath you, stopping at your hips, and tap that knee with your opposite hand. Lower your leg and arm down, then repeat on the opposite side. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps.

7. Bear Crawl

How to: Start in tabletop position at the back of your mat with your wrists under your shoulders, knees under hips, and your neck aligned with your spine. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.

Raise your hips slightly to lift your knees off the floor while maintaining a flat back. Slowly walk your hands and feet forward to the top of your mat, then reverse the movement. That's one rep. Complete 12 reps.

8. Single-Arm Floor Press Deadbug

How to: Lie on your back with your legs bent (knees over hips) and arms extended at chest height, holding a dumbbell in your left hand, palm facing away from you. Press your low back to the mat and brace your core. That's your starting position.

Slowly and simultaneously extend and lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches floor as you bend your left arm until it touches the floor at a 45-degree angle from your body. Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on each side.

9. Kettlebell Bridge Pullover

How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, resting on top of your chest. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

Lift the kettlebell in to the air over your chest, then slowly lower it behind you until it nearly touches the ground without arching your back or splaying your rib cage. Engage your core and return the kettlebell over your chest. That's one rep. Complete eight reps.

10. Kettlebell Deadbug Pullover

How to: Lie on your back with your legs bent at 90 degrees (knees over hips) and arms extended over your chest holding a kettlebell with both hands. That's your start position.

Press low back in to floor, brace your core, then slowly and simultaneously extend and lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches floor while you lower the kettlebell overhead until it nearly touches the floor behind you.

Pause, then return to start and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Complete eight reps.

11. Stability Ball Deadbug

How to: Lie on you back with your legs bent at 90 degrees and arms extended over your chest holding a stability ball between your forearms and knees.

Press low back in to the mat, brace your core, then slowly and simultaneously extend and lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches floor and your left arm overhead until your hand nearly touches floor behind you.

Pause, then return both knee and forearm to the stability ball and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps.

12. Stability Ball Stir The Pot

How to: Place your forearms on a stability ball and extend your legs directly behind you into a high plank—your body should form a straight line from head to heels.

Brace your abs and move your forearms in a full circle, so the stability ball moves as well, keeping the rest of your body still. That's one rep.

Do 10 reps then reverse the circle for 10 reps.

13. Stability Ball Rollout

How to: Start by kneeling on your mat and place your forearms on a stability ball. Slowly move your arms forward, until your body forms a straight line. Hold here for three seconds, then roll back until your hips of over your knees. That's one rep. Complete as many reps as you can in 30 seconds.

14. Unilateral Dumbbell March

How to: Stand up straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and extend your right arm out to your side at a 45-degree angle from your body.

Slowly lift your left leg up until you knee is at hip height. Then, with control, lower your leg down to the ground. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

Complete 10 reps, switch hands with the dumbbell, and do another 10 reps.


5 Hardcore Ab Exercises

The hard-core abs workout

Are you still doing dozens of crunches in the hopes of getting flat, washboard abs?

Traditional crunches are old news, so let’s take your ab routine to the next level with the following 5 Amazing Ab Exercises.

The most effective ab exercises strengthen your core as a whole –which helps prevent dreaded back pain, increases your agility and, of course, makes you look good.

In your new ab routine the focus is on quality over quantity. A few concentrated movements are always more effective than dozen and dozens of old fashion crunches.

Spiderman Plank

When performed correctly, this rendition of a simple plank is one of the most effective ways to tighten your entire core. Proper form is key. Keep your back flat and your belly button pulled in toward your spine.

  1. Lie face down on mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor.
  2. Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows.
  3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
  4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.
  5. Bring your knee to your elbow and then alternate sides.
  6. This counts as one rep.

Note: If this is too challenging, just lift leg open to the side.

Windshield Wipers

Doing windshield wipers lying down will build the rotational core strength you need as a foundation.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor and raise your legs 90 degrees.
  2. Spread your arms straight out to your sides for support.
  3. Rotate your legs to one side, stopping short of touching the floor.
  4. Rotate to the other side.
  5. As you improve, bring your arms closer in to your body so they offer less stability.

Crunch Chop

The crunch chop actively engages your core, hips and glutes, and improves muscle strength and endurance. This exercise helps to tighten your core, tones your abs and flattens your belly.

  1. To start, lie flat on your back with arms extended above your head and fingers interlocked.
  2. Raise your legs straight up in the air.
  3. Your hips and torso should be at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Crunch upward, opening your legs into a straddle position.
  5. “Chop” your arms through your legs at the top of the movement.
  6. Pause, then return to starting position.


The inchworm is a multi-joint, dynamic exercise that increases strength and muscular endurance throughout the entire body with an emphasis on the shoulders and core.

  1. Stand tall with your legs straight.
  2. Bend forward and touch the floor with both hands.
  3. Walk your hands forward while keeping your legs straight so that you almost end up in a pushup position.
  4. Walk your feet forward in small steps keeping your hands on the ground so that you end up back in the starting position.

Russian Twist

Russian Twist is a core body exercise that strengthens all parts of your abdominals, including your obliques, for a toned waistline and a stronger back. The twisting motion of the Russian Twist is the key to this move. By rotating with your abs from side to side, you are firing up the muscle fibers around your waist as well as pulling in the lower abs for a strong, flat tummy.

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees and hips bent to 90° with your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight plate with your arms fully extended in front of your chest.
  2. Lean back so your torso is at a 45° angle, and use your abs to twist your torso as far as you can in one direction before reversing the motion and returning to the starting position to prepare to twist in the opposite direction.

Note: Do not allow your body to sway back and forth as you twist. Squeeze your abs as hard as possible for maximum effectiveness. Do not sit up too high, which will place stress on your lower back.

Even the best exercise routine in the world is fruitless if you throw away your results with sloppy eating. Remember to keep your meals lean by avoiding processed carbs, packaged foods or fried items. Fill up on lean proteins and fresh vegetables and reward yourself with organic, seasonal fruit. That, my friend, is lean living!

Ready to take your fitness results to the next level? Call or email me today and we will get you started on an exercise program that’s designed to deliver massive results. Come on, you deserve it!


The Best Abs Workout For The Gym: Circuits For Upper Abs, Lower Abs, And Obliques And Core

The hard-core abs workout

If you’re looking to train your abs, the good news is that there are a huge variety of exercises that will help you achieve that goal.

Even if you’re not doing moves that focus on them directly, the location of your abs means that they are worked hard by compound exercises that hit both the upper and lower body.

Your core is also key to any exercise in which you have to keep your body stable, such as static holds the plank or tricky balancing acts the single-leg Romanian deadlift.

Whether your goal is a six-pack or just a little more definition around your midsection, compound lifts squats, overhead presses and deadlifts will help get you there, and they’ll build strength all over your body at the same time. That said, there’s also room for more focused abs work too, especially if you have designs on achieving a cover model-style six-pack.

The four-move circuits below provide both isolation exercises and compound moves, and the three options target different areas of your abs to ensure you’re hitting them from every angle. The first workout concentrates on your upper abs, the second focuses on the lower abs, and the final routine works the often neglected side abs – or obliques – along with your deeper core muscles.

Though each circuit works as quick stand-alone abs blast, you can also tack them on to the end of your main training session to ensure your abs are getting the attention they merit.

How to do each abs workout

Each of these abs workouts is a mini-circuit you can do at the end of your main workout. The circuits are designed to work the maximum number of muscle fibres as quickly and effectively as possible, so you’ll do all four moves in order, sticking to the reps and rest periods detailed.

The first move of each circuit is the hardest, then they get progressively easier as the number of reps per move increases. This works your abs harder and places them under greater tension for longer, which is ultimately what stimulates muscle growth.

After the final move, rest for the allotted time, then repeat the circuit. Do three circuits in total.

1 Dumbbell crunch

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell or weight plate across your chest in both hands. Raise your torso, then lower it, maintaining tension in your uppers abs throughout.

2 Tuck and crunch

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

Lie down with your hands by your head and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle. Simultaneously raise your torso and draw your knees towards your chest. Keep your fingers by your temples throughout and initiate each rep smoothly without jerking your torso up. Don’t let your feet touch the floor between reps.

3 Modified V-sit

Reps 12 Rest 10sec

Lie with your legs raised off the floor and extended away from you so they’re parallel with the floor, and your arms straight by your sides, held off the floor. Keep your arms straight as you raise your torso and bring your legs in, bending at the knees, so that your chest meets your knees at the top of the move. Then lower under control.

4 Crunch

Reps 20 Rest 90sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted, and your arms crossed across your chest. Raise your torso using your abs, then lower. Your upper abs will already be close to fatigue but try to hold the top position of each rep for at least one second to make them work as hard as possible.

1 Hanging leg raise

Reps 10 Rest 10sec

Fair warning, this tough exercise sets the tone for what is going to be a brutal workout involving four different hanging exercises. Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and your knees and ankles touching. Keep them together as your use your lower abs to raise them, then lower back to the start under control.

2 Hanging knee raise twist

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Start in a dead hang with your legs straight and knees together. Twist your body and raise your knees to one side, then return to the start. Continue, alternating sides.

3 Hanging knee raise

Reps 15 Rest 10sec

This slightly easier variation on the hanging leg raise still puts a lot of pressure on your lower abs. Start in a dead hang and raise your knees powerfully to activate more of the muscle fibres in the lower abs. Lower back to the start under control to prevent swinging.

4 Garhammer raise

Reps 20 Rest 90sec

Start hanging from the bar but with your knees already raised to around your midsection, then lift them as high as you can. Lower back to the start under control, keeping your abs engaged throughout.

1 Decline plank with foot touch

Reps 10 each side Rest 10sec

Get into a decline plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms with your feet raised on a bench. Your body should form a straight line from heels to head and the aim is to maintain that position throughout the exercise. Lift one foot off the bench and move it to the side to touch the floor, then return it to the bench. Continue, alternating sides.

2 Seated Russian twist

Reps 12 each side Rest 10sec

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and heels on the ground. Your torso should be at the top of the crunch position, forming a 45° angle to the ground. Twist your torso from side to side, moving in a smooth and controlled manner.

3 Bicycle crunches

Reps 15 each side Rest 10sec

Lie on your back with your hands by your temples and your legs raised with your knees bent at a 90° angle. Bring your right knee up towards your chest while raising your torso and twisting so your left elbow comes to meet your knee. Then lower and do the same on the opposite side. Keep your shoulders and feet off the ground to force your abs to work hard to stabilise your torso.

4 Plank

Time Max Rest 90sec

Maintain a strict plank position, with your hips up, your glutes and core braced, and your head and neck relaxed. Breathing slowly and deeply, hold the position for as long as possible.

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Look beyond deadlifts

In this CrossFit-and-strongman era, it’s a common claim that deadlifts are all the abs work you need. Dead wrong.

In fact, the most recent study to compare key exercises found that press-ups and plank holds beat even heavy back squats and deadlifts for core activation.

Although the weighted movements produced the most force on the lower back, the bodyweight moves proved most effective for the rectus abdominis and external obliques.

What’s the frequency?

Once upon a time, the myth was that, as “endurance” muscles, the abs should be trained every day.

Now it’s more common to encounter claims that you only need one dedicated core workout a week – but the truth lies somewhere in between.

“Two or three abs workouts a week might be optimal for most people,” says trainer Jonny Jacobs. “Breaking it up into separate days – for static, anti-rotation work and dynamic movements – is one good option.”

Bringing flexion back

You should know by now that doing hundreds of sit-ups is doing nothing good for your back, but that doesn’t mean you ought to ditch spinal flexion entirely.

In 2017, back health expert Dr Stuart McGill co-authored a paper explaining: “If flexibility is important… the trainer may want to select full-range curl-ups and crunches…if maximal muscular development is the goal, including the crunch and its variations may help.” Translation: A few are fine.