Abs and Core Exercises

Tips for Building a Winning Midsection

Gina Aliotti, Figure International champ, shares her advice on how to improve your prized midsection.

Tips for Building a Winning Midsection

Constructing a midsection worthy of envy is usually right at the top of every gym rat's to-do list. While grunting out another rep, choking down another bland chicken breast or sweating buckets on the treadmill, it's the promise of those abs that keeps you sane.

Figure International champion Gina Aliotti knows a thing or two about the pursuit of a six-pack, but it's her actual possession of one that makes her a perfect expert resource for the ab-less inhabitants of the gym scene. Here, she gives us a glimpse into her routine and provides a few pointers on how to get that strong, shredded look you crave.

Aliotti's Tips for a Six-Pack:

1) You can't build abs until you shed fat. You have to decrease your overall level of bodyfat before you can really see the results.

2) While you can't isolate each section of the abs, you can emphasize one part over another. That's why it's important to do lower ab moves, bringing your legs toward your torso, and upper ab moves where you bring your torso toward your pelvis.

3) When you do floor work, always look up to the ceiling instead of at your knees.

4) Keep your core tight on the negative part of each movement. Whatever ab exercise you're doing, squeeze tightly during both the positive and negative motions to get the full benefit.

5) Don't neglect your deep core muscles. These are critical for spinal stability and long-term health. Do planks and other core-specific moves to round out your ab training.

6) Never do abs before working back or legs, since many exercises for those bodyparts require intra-abdominal pressure. If you do abs first, you can fatigue your core and abs, and therefore put yourself at risk of injury. When in doubt, do abs last.

Gina Aliotti's Ab Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Oblique Crunch 3 20
Reverse Crunch 3 15
Roman Chair Sit-up 3 12
Exercise Ball Crunch 3 20
Hanging Leg Lift 3 15

Training Split

Day Bodyparts Trained
1 Shoulders, triceps, chest (chest only every other week)
2 Back, biceps, abs
3 Legs
4 Off
5 Shoulders, abs
6 Hamstrings
7 Off