If you think doing crunches, crunches, and more crunches is the best way to build your abs, prepare to be enlightened. Every exercise in this routine, based on the science in our book, The New Rules of Lifting for Abs, strengthens your core—yet you won’t find a single crunch. Or side bend. Or situp. What you will discover is the most effective way to train your abs from every single angle while burning off the fat that hides them. There’s nothing complicated. In fact, revealing your abs has never been simpler.
Directions: Perform this total-body workout 3 days a week, but be sure to rest at least 1 day between each session. This workout is separated into two sections: core and strength. Use the directions below, making sure you perform the core exercises first before moving on to complete the two strength supersets.
The Core Workout
Do the exercises in the order shown, completing all the prescribed sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.
Half-Kneeling Cable Core Press
Attach a D-handle at chest height to a cable machine. Kneel alongside the machine with one knee (the knee closest to the machine) bent 90 degrees and the other knee on the floor. Grab the handle with both hands, hold it in front of your chest as shown, and brace your abs. Slowly press your arms in front of you until they’re straight, hold without letting your body rotate, and bring them back to your chest. Turn around and work your other side.
Complete 1 set, holding for 30 seconds each side.
Place your feet on a bench and assume a pushup position; bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Contract your abs as if you were about to be punched. Hold this position for the recommended time.
Complete 10 sets, holding each set for 10 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Elevated-Feet Side Plank
Lie on your left side with your legs straight. Place your feet on a bench, and prop your upper body on your left elbow and forearm. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from ankles to shoulders. Brace your core by contracting your abs. Hold this position for the recommended time. Then turn around so you’re lying on your right side and repeat.
Complete 5 sets on each side, holding for 10 seconds. Alternate back and forth until you’ve finished all the sets.
The Strength Workout
Do 1 set of 12 reps of exercise 1A, and rest for 45 seconds. Then do 1 set of 12 reps of exercise 1B and rest for another 45 seconds. Repeat until you’ve completed 3 sets of each exercise. Then move on to exercises 2A and 2B and follow the same instructions.
1A: Single-Leg Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift
Using an overhand grip, hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Raise your right foot off the floor and, without changing the bend in your left knee, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Pause, and return to the starting position. Do all your reps, switch legs, and repeat.
Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press
1B: Hold a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders, your arms bent and palms facing each other. Set your feet at shoulder width and bend your knees slightly. Press each dumbbell up, one at a time, until your arm is straight. As you lower one dumbbell, press the other one up, in an alternating fashion.
Reverse Dumbbell Lunge
2A: Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides, your palms facing each other. Step backward with your right leg. Then lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees. Pause, and push yourself back to the starting position. Do all your reps, switch legs, and repeat.
2B: Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, grab a bar that’s been secured at about waist height. Hang with your arms completely straight, hands positioned directly above your shoulders, and heels touching the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Pull your shoulder blades back, and continue to pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Pause, and lower your body back to the starting position.