It's now inevitable any time a football coach stands on the precipice of winning a championship. A handful of players sneak up behind him with a cooler full of icy Gatorade and dump it over his head. And every time, fans at home are shaking their head, thinking, How lame, boring and played out is that tradition?
Now, stop and think about this: Could those same descriptive terms be ascribed to your ab training? How long have you been using the same tired formula of exercises, sets and reps? And most importantly, are you getting results '" or has all that work over the years been about as meaningless as the college football bowl season?
Don't settle for sub par outcomes any longer. The following four routines, all designed as either standalone workouts or as an add-on to the end of any of your other body part sessions, can prove to be the playbook you need for a washboard middle.
Before you begin, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind. To complete the routines quickly, you'll want to employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/two-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than 30 seconds between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the brief period it takes to switch positions and/or equipment for the next movement.
You're now ready to begin a new tradition of your own in your quest for a better physique '" using intense, targeted training for high-scoring results. Unlike the aforementioned Gatorade bath, it's a ritual that will never get old.
Workout Circuit #1: No Equipment
|Double Crunch||15, 12, 12|
|Leg Lift (off floor)||15, 12, 12|
|Side Crunch (left side)||10, 10, 10|
|Side Crunch (right side)||10, 10, 10|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. From workout to workout, alternate which side you start on for the side crunch.|
|The math: 138 total reps at 4 seconds per rep = 552 seconds, or about 9 minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second and second and third circuits, totals 10 minutes.|
|Note: This regimen can be done anywhere, which makes it perfect for home trainers or road warriors. If you have a flat bench, you can do the leg lifts off of it, with your hips at the bottom edge. For the side crunch, lie on your side, lightly place your upper-side hand on your head, and crunch your side so your ribcage moves toward your pelvic bone '" like all crunch variations, it's a small but effective move.|
Workout #2: Balanced Attack
|V-Up||15, 10, 10|
|Machine Crunch||15, 15, 15|
|Side Bridge||30-second hold per side|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. Use a very light weight for a warm-up on your first set of the first two exercises.|
|The math: 80 total reps at 4 seconds per rep = 320 seconds, or about 5 and a half minutes; plus 3 minutes for the side bridge and 30 seconds rest between each circuit totals 9 and a half minutes, leaving 30 seconds for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
|Note: Too many people make the mistake of going too heavy and resorting to bad mechanics during machine crunches. Instead, focus on form: As you perform each repetition, concentrate on your lower back slightly rounding as your abdominal wall flexes.|
Workout #3: Lower-Ab Focus
|Vertical-Bench Leg Raise||15, 15, 15|
|Incline Board Crunch||15, 15, 15|
|Decline Twisting Crunch||12, 12, 12|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. The first two exercises are lower-ab focused, while the third hits the upper abs and obliques.|
|The math: 126 total reps at 4 seconds per rep = 504 seconds, or approximately 8 and a half minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the first and second and second and third circuits, totals about 9 and a half minutes, leaving 30 seconds for switching between the various equipment within the circuits.|
|Note: Rotate this regimen with Workout #4 '" it's a great way to focus specifically on the upper and lower areas of your midsection while still giving each equal time over the course of two sessions.|
Workout #4: Upper Ab Focus
|Medicine-Ball Decline Crunch||15, 12, 12|
|Rope Cable||15, 12, 12|
|Reverse Crunch||15, 12, 12|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through. The first two exercises focus on the upper abs, while the third homes in on the lower region.|
|The math: 117 total reps at 4 seconds per rep = 468 seconds, or about 8 minutes; plus 30 seconds rest between the circuits totals about 9 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
For an extra dose of intensity, advanced athletes can try a variation
of the medicine-ball decline crunch where you hold the ball overhead
instead of at your chest.