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We’re as into working the core as anyone, but save the planks and transverse abdominus training for another day. It’s time to get a six-pack the old-fashioned way—with a workout that brings to mind Rocky Balboa and bodybuilders of the ’60s and ’70s. The following abs routine—which was designed by Jim Ryno, personal trainer and owner of Lift Enterprises in Alpine, NJ—is as brutally effective as it is nostalgic.
“This is an old-school abdominal routine just like I did with my dad in the garage growing up,” Ryno says. “Rather than choosing a crazy number of exercises, you need to select just a few and train them intensely. These four moves will definitely do the trick for helping you obtain that chiseled six-pack.”
Ryno’s six-week plan consists of exercises you’ve undoubtedly seen before. He’s not reinventing the wheel, nor does he need to. “This is an advanced abs workout to increase the size of your abs, making them more defined and visible,” Ryno says. These four exercises not only cover all the major areas of the midsection (upper and lower abs, obliques) but also are excellent for loading with weight. Building muscle requires increasing resistance. You should train your abs like you would your biceps. You wouldn’t do 100 curls consecutively, so why would you do 100 crunches?”
You’ll see two separate abs workouts below: One you’ll do twice a week for the first three weeks, and another will take you through the three weeks after that. The major difference between Weeks 1–3 and 4–6 are lower rep ranges in the latter, a product of increasing resistance. “While this program provides the much-needed variation in reps in order to keep progress coming,” Ryno explains, “the focus is really on Weeks 4–6, when the reps are executed in the lower range with added weight to really build serious strength and size. You’ll do the most difficult moves first in the routine, as a muscle is always weaker on subsequent exercises.”
You’ll do two three-week phases back to back. The movements will be the same in all weeks but volume and resistance increase in Weeks 4-6.
Perform each routine twice weekly, allowing at least 48 hours between workouts.
In Weeks 1-3, rest 45 seconds; in Weeks 4-6, rest 60 seconds.