Many fitness models and pro bodybuilders approach training and nutrition with a do-or-die attitude, but for IFBB pro George Brown, instead of adhering to that dogma, he has his cake and eats it, too. The 36-year-old father of two will be the first to admit that genetics have had a major role in shaping his physique, yet finding him in a parking lot with a slice of cake before a competition isn’t unheard of. Brown takes his workouts one day at a time, practicing the law of attraction and consistency…especially when he falls off the wagon.

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Alternating Abs
Brown trains abs every other day throughout the off-season and pre-contest, working them after the larger body part in the routine. “I have no preference as to which days abs falls on,” says Brown. “It doesn’t matter at all. I just make sure to hit abs every two days, whether that falls on leg day, chest day, or even on my active rest day.”

Brown’s Ab Workout

Exercise    Sets/Reps

Bench Scissor Kick: 4/30 (per side)
Cable Crunch* 4/50-60 to failure
Hanging Knee Raise: 4/20-25
V-sit Crunch: 4/30

*Brown says, “As soon as it starts to burn, I’ll do 15 more reps.”

Cable crunch George

Cable Crunch

Kneel in front of a cable weight stack with a rope attached to a high-pulley cable. Grasp the ends of the rope and hold them at the sides of your head. Begin slightly bent over, then contract your abs to lower your torso toward the floor. When your head is around six to 12 inches from the floor, squeeze the abs hard for one or two counts, then slowly return back up to the start position.
BROWN SAYS: “It’s just about pushing to the limits here. How much can you take? The more you put in, the more you get out. I’ll do the entire set, then 15 more. You just have to build up a tolerance for the high reps.”

M&F: How much of a role do genetics play in your physique?

GB: If I had to quantify it, I’d say 60%. I know that I have [great] genetics and that they play a key role. I’m blessed to have them, but I still have to work hard.

Did you lean too much on your genetics and slack off a bit at times? 
Genetics can be a gift and they can be a curse. When I played football at Tiffin University, in Tiffin, OH, I never gave our trainer 100%. I would perform just good enough to beat whatever group I was in. We received grades for our conditioning efforts, and one day my coach gave me a “C.” I’ll never forget this. I said, “Dude, I won every race.” He replied, “You’re doing just enough to get by. Let me see how much you can beat them by.”

Did that bleed over to physique?
Yes, I had to learn consistency. I would put my all into a show and then cut corners on the next one. I realized I have to give it my all every single time.

Bodybuilding is a 24/7 lifestyle. How do you balance that with your life away from competition?
You have to create balance. When I’m competing in multiple shows, I’m laser-focused. In my off-season, I spend time with my kids and family because I need balance. I don’t want to focus so much on [competing] that I lose friends and family because bodybuilding is a selfish sport.

Do you ever loosen up your diet?
Oh, yes! That’s something I struggle with. There are times when you may find me in the parking lot, during prep, with Lord knows what. Two weeks before the 2016 New York Pro— which I won—I had cake and chips.

What’s your advice to guys who fall off the wagon?
Sometimes you need to give your body what it needs. It’s not going to do too much damage. You don’t have to diet 100% the entire time to look phenomenal. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself. Just drink plenty of water, get back on the horse the next day, and remember your goals.

You have what are considered to be the perfect abs. What’s your approach to training them?
First off, it’s all about the diet. I have always been an athlete, but getting really lean all came down to my diet. Secondly, I don’t use weights when I train them. That will just ruin your waist, which won’t make your physique look great. Don’t add weight, add reps. Do them until they burn and then start counting. Third, you have to envision them. Every day, I told myself, “I have the perfect profile,” and “My abs are perfect.”

You sound like the Conor McGregor of the IFBB, talking about the law of attraction.
You have to be your own cheerleader. Words are powerful, and you need to shout them to the universe, tell it that you’re the greatest and that no one is better than you. Do you think if you ask Donald Trump, “Who is a better businessman than you?” that he’s going to say anyone but himself?

What’s one misconception that normal guys have about competitors?
That they can’t look like us. Just now, you said “normal guys,” but I’m a normal guy, too. A lot of people say, “Man, I could never look like that.” In fact, I used to be that person, but one day leads to two, two days leads to three, and before you know it you’ll be there.

Lat Hang Stretch

Hanging Knee Raise

Hang from a pullup bar with your legs straight. Bend your knees and contract your abs to raise your legs up. Take your knees up as high as they can go, raising your pelvis at the top and squeezing your abs hard. Slowly lower back down under control.

BROWN SAYS: “A lot of people like to stick their legs all the way out, but I recommend keeping the knees bent. For me, when I pull up to my stomach I get a great squeeze this way. Drop your knees all the way down and get a complete stretch in the abs, and then pull your knees to your chest and hold it for one to two seconds on each rep. Elevate your pelvis at the top, too—try to take it up to the ceiling a little bit. The main thing is just to go slow.”

V sit crunch George

V-sit Crunch

Start in the same position as with scissor kicks—sitting sideways on a bench, leaned back, hands holding on for balance. With your feet only a few inches off the floor, contract your abs to pull both knees up toward your face. Squeeze the contraction at the top, then very slowly return to the start position.

BROWN SAYS: “When I stick my feet out on the V-sits, I kind of do a negative. I don’t just go in and out with the legs. I’m actually pulling my knees in, then kicking my feet out high and making it a negative, and then pulling my feet back in. When your feet are going back out, make sure you go slow.”

Bench scissor kick

Bench Scissor Kick

Sit sideways on a  at bench, lean your torso back, and hold on to the edges of the bench with your hands for stability. Keeping your torso in a fixed position, perform alternating/scissor kicks with your legs, focusing on your lower abs throughout. Keep the motion relatively slow and under control.

BROWN SAYS: “Lean back when you do this exercise to make sure you’re hitting the lower abs. Don’t have your torso straight up and vertical with the floor. I would even say keep your torso leaned back farther than 45 degrees with the floor.”