Hard Earned Abs
Ian Spanier

Look at this guy, George Brown. Check out those abs. He’s just a genetic freak, a men’s physique version of Dexter Jackson. To get a midsection that great, he probably doesn’t even train abs—they just come naturally for him, right? 

Wrong.

Brown has been hammering his abs every other day for more than four years now. And the virtually flawless six-pack you see here is the fruit of that labor.

“Some people might think I don’t have to work hard for my abs and that they just come easy, but that’s not the case,” says the 36-year-old from Columbus, OH. “You still have to work for them. You have to have a good diet, and you still have to hit them in the gym. I may have some genes working with me, but I put in the same amount of work, if not more, as the next person. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t put it to use, the person who wants it more will outwork you every single time.” 

Brown’s hard-earned, crazy-chiseled six-pack went a long way in helping him become a major player in the IFBB Men’s Physique division, in which a razor-sharp midsection is a prerequisite to being competitive. Brown hits abs for 20 to 25 minutes three to four days a week. Every ab routine is different in terms of exercise selection, but one constant in his training is high-rep sets, typically in the 30-plus-rep range. Another key variable is persistence. 

“I had to work up to high reps,” Brown says. “It’s taken me four years, and I’m still trying to perfect my reps. I just want quality reps. So if you have to start out at 10 reps, make sure it’s the perfect 10. You’ve got to leave your pride at the door, because eventually you’ll be doing numbers you never thought you would.” 

 

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Ian Spanier

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 xed 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.”

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Ian Spanier

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 oor. When your head is around six to 12 inches from the oor, 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. Will Smith says, ‘I’ll die on a treadmill.’ I’m doing as many as I can, and then I’m doing 15 more. So I’m dying on the cable crunches, because I want perfect abs. You just have to build up a tolerance for the high reps.” 

 

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Ian Spanier

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.” 

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Ian Spanier

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 o the oor, contract your abs to pull your 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.” 

TRAINING NOTES

ALTERNATING ABS

Brown trains abs every other day throughout the o -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.”

STEADY-STATE RECOVERY

Brown’s “active rest” day typically consists of at least one hour of steady-state cardio incorporating an activity that’s outside the gym. “I may walk a trail outdoors for an hour,” he says. “Something to keep me moving, but staying out of the gym.” 

 

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Ian Spanier

BROWN’S TRAINING SPLIT

  • Monday: Chest 
  • Tuesday: Back 
  • Wednesday: Shoulders
  • Thursday: Arms
  • Friday: Legs
  • Saturday: Back
  • Sunday: Active rest 

 BROWN’S ABS WORKOUT 

  • Bench Scissor Kick | SETES: 4 | REPS: 30 (per side)
  • Cable Crunch | SETES: 4 | REPS: 50-60 (to failure)*
  • Hanging Knee Raise | SETES: 4 | REPS: 20-25
  • V-Sit Crunch (on bench) | SETES: 4 | REPS: 30

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

 FLEX