How should I train my abs for maximum definition? Do I need to do a ton of reps every workout to get results?


Many guys hit their abs every day with hundreds of reps, thinking that such a training style will melt away their beer belly and leave a deep, knotted six-pack in its place. However, that approach will not effectively craft your abs, just as it would not build mass in any other muscle group. Only weight resistance beyond the muscle’s capacity induces it to grow. 

My ab workouts usually consist of four exercises for a total of 12 or 13 sets of 10-20 reps each. I use the same intensity and concentrated squeeze as I do for other muscle groups. One difference with abs is frequency. I normally train a bodypart every fourth day, but I train abs five times a week, as they are able to recover quickly. My best results have come from two alternating workouts of four exercises each. The first three exercises, sets and reps are the same in each workout; only the last exercise in each workout changes. The reason: I have five favorite exercises, but I believe four exercises are optimum for any given workout. Here are my favorites.

ROMAN-CHAIR CRUNCHES  With my knees bent and feet hooked underneath the supports, I control the positive and negative. Don’t flop up and down — squeeze your abs to raise your upper body, and then lower yourself slowly.

HANGING KNEE RAISES  I perform these hanging from a bar or with my body fixed against the backrest of an upright bench and supported by my forearms on the pads. I maximize the squeeze on each rep as I slowly raise my knees.

HANGING TWISTING KNEE RAISES  Keeping my legs and feet together, I bring my knees up to one side, then the other, which also works my serratus and intercostals.

SEATED V-UPS  Sitting on the edge of a bench and gripping it for stability, I extend my legs fully, then draw my knees to my chest, extend them back to the starting position and repeat to failure.

STANDING CABLE ROPE CRUNCHES  Most guys do these kneeling; I prefer standing. Using a rope handle, I extend my arms fully out to the front, lock them in position, then contract my abs to fold my upper body down toward my feet, getting a two-second squeeze at the bottom.

If you’re looking for an effective ab routine of your own, I suggest you try my method for yourself. It may be just the thing you need to master your middle.