Monday, December 11, 2017

Doing hundreds of crunches doesn’t result in a rock-hard six-pack, just as doing hundreds of light dumbbell curls doesn’t develop bulging biceps. To develop abs that are both functional and visually impressive, you need to treat this misunderstood muscle group just like every other: hit it from multiple angles with a variety of rep ranges and movement patterns to engage and challenge as many muscle fibres as possible, making them grow back stronger. 

To work your abs effectively, train them until they start to cramp up and you can really feel the muscles burning – that shows that you are working them hard enough. When they begin to cramp, pause in position and take three deep breaths, then try to do as many extra reps as possible.

Try these moves and watch your abs bloom.

Hanging knee raise

Difficulty Easy

Targets Lower abs

Rep range target 12-15

Form Hang from a bar or rings with your legs straight. Keep your chest up and brace your abs and glutes, then bring your knees up to hip height. Pause and hold for a second, then lower your feet back to the start.

Hanging knee raise twist

Difficulty Easy

Targets Obliques

Rep range target 12-15

Form Hang from a bar or rings with your legs straight. Keep your chest up and brace your abs and glutes, then bring your knees up, twisting to one side as you lift them, until they’re at hip height. Pause and hold for a second, then lower your feet back to the start. Repeat, twisting to the other side, and alternate sides with each rep.

To make the next two moves really effective at sculpting hard abs, it’s essential that you maintain tension throughout your core for the duration of the entire set. The more tension you can place on your abs, the bigger the signal they get that they need to grow back stronger and more defined.

Garhammer raise

Difficulty Easy

Targets Lower abs

Rep range target 15+

Form Start at the top of the hanging knee raise position with your abs engaged. From there, keeping tension on your abs, draw your knees up higher and in towards your chest. Lower back to the start position but don’t let your abs switch off. This is a high-rep exercise because the movement range is limited, but your abs should be cramping by the end of the set.

Knees to chest

Difficulty Medium

Targets Entire core

Rep range target 8-12

Form Start at the top of the hanging knee raise position with your abs engaged. From there, keeping tension on your abs, draw your knees up as high as possible. Lower back to the start position, maintaining tension throughout your body.

As well as working your abs, these final three tougher moves really test your grip strength because you must keep your entire body tight and stable for the duration of each rep. If your grip goes before you feel your abs getting worked, try using straps to keep your hands locked in position so you can hit your target number of reps.

Hanging leg raise

Difficulty Medium

Targets Lower abs

Rep range target 8-12

Form Hang from a bar or rings with your legs straight. Keep your chest up and brace your abs and glutes, then bring your feet up to hip height with your legs still straight. Pause and hold for a second, then lower your feet back down to the start.

Windscreen wiper

Difficulty Hard

Targets Entire core

Rep range target 6-8

Form Hang from a bar or rings with your legs straight. Keep your chest up and brace your abs and glutes, then raise your legs towards your hands. From there, keeping your abs fully braced and legs straight, lower your feet to one side, then back up over to the other side. Keep each rep as smooth and controlled as you can.

Toes to bar

Difficulty Hard

Targets Entire core

Rep range target 6-8

Form Hang from a bar or rings with your legs straight. Keep your chest up and brace your abs and glutes, then raise your feet towards your hands. Maintain tension on your abs as you lower your feet back to the start position, then repeat, keeping each rep smooth and controlled without too much jerking up and down.

Photography: Glen Burrows; Model: Louis Rennocks