Abs and Core Exercises

Outstanding Abs Routine

IFBB pro Stan McQuay shows us how to get champion-caliber abs.

Outstanding Abs Routine
Duration 1 day
Exercises 4
Equipment X

Stan McQuay at a Glance

Birthdate: July 12, 1973
Birthplace: Yokosuka, Japan
Current residence: Canoga Park, California
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 195 pounds contest, 210 pounds off-season
Career highlights: 2011: IFBB Sacramento Pro, 1st. 2006: NPC National Championships, 1st, light-heavyweight. 2002: USA Championships, 1st

Stan McQuay is not a gambling man. Well, at least not since he bet his way into his first contest in 1997, the ABA California Natural Championships. After finding a flyer for what they assumed to be some local "best body" contest, the 24-year-old Stan and his buddies placed a wager between them as to who did, in fact, have the best physique in the group. Once they realized the ad was for a bodybuilding contest, his buddies kept their distance. Stan, however, kept the bet, and we suppose he won the wager because we know he won the show.

Enter the Dragon

Born at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, Stan has always been an athlete, pushing himself to high personal achievement in every endeavor during his formative years. "My parents brought me to the United States when I was 1, and as soon as I could walk they had me in sports - baseball, basketball, football, you name it," he says. Stan made good on his God-given abilities, excelling in football and track and, later, earning black-belt status in tae kwon do, kung fu and jiu jitsu. "Through martial arts, I've not only mastered certain disciplines but connected my mind and body to do things I never thought I could do," he remarks.

When asked how martial arts training has helped his bodybuilding career, Stan says: "They actually complement each other. I don't think I would be the kind of bodybuilder I am today without martial arts, nor would I do so well in the dojo without my power, strength and muscle endurance. My passions are now inseparable and help define who I am."

Such discipline comes in handy while he's dieting for a contest. "It's during those tough days that the inner man takes control and leads the outer man down the path of victory - not the other way around," Stan notes. He adds that the flip side is just as easy to identify.

"When I'm being tested in the dojo, I can easily bring to mind last week's leg workout and everything comes into perspective; it's at that point I realize that I can handle what's coming." Stan also brings what he has learned from bodybuilding and the martial arts into his personal-training business based out of Powerhouse Gym in Chatsworth, California. "My clients work hard from the inside out and, hopefully, they're learning lessons that will reach far beyond the gym walls."

Stunt My Growth 

After winning the light-heavyweight division of the 2006 NPC Nationals contest last November and turning pro, Stan is charging hard toward bigger and better. "The stunt world is my next stage," he says. "I've been learning from two of the best stuntmen in the industry, Tanoai Reed and Troy Robinson, as well as working on such projects as the motion picture Southland Tales and a new martial arts reality-TV show called MMA Hardcore. So things are going full steam in that direction. I really believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. It just has to be the right move."

Although Stan has his eye on Hollywood, bodybuilding enthusiasts still have their eye on him, evident in the daily bombardment of questions he receives about his future in the sport. "My next step onstage will probably be sometime in 2008, more than likely a West Coast show, although I'm considering doing the Europa Super Show in 2007." Stan plans to gain 10-15 pounds over this next year but vows to keep his clean lines and aesthetic look. "I'll never play the mass game," he says.

"I want to bring back the golden era of the likes of Lee Labrada and Francis Benfatto. Those guys had the look that I always liked and the kind of physique I hope to motivate others to achieve."

So with his new pro card, thriving personal training business and stunt career in clear view, Stan appears to have the world by the tail. But to quantify just how gifted he is within the confines of this article would be like fighting a lion with a toothpick - futile. But Stan knows he wouldn't be on this journey without the help of family and friends. And if he continues to train himself mentally, physically and spiritually, the road will have to rise to meet him on his way to the top. That's a bet he's willing to take.

Tips from Stan

1) I hit my abs often, and I hit them hard! If possible, I start my day with an ab workout. I even like to get to the gym early in the morning, allowing me to knock them out before my clients arrive.

2) I train my major bodyparts at night, and if I didn't hit abs in the morning, I do them at the end of my workout. I suggest you never train abs right before other bodyparts such as back or legs - you need your abs and core to be fresh since you use them for stability during your lifts, especially bent-over moves, squats and deadlifts.

3) I vary my ab workout on a daily basis, although the hanging leg raise always comes first in my routine. I hit my lower abs right away. Since I feel they're much weaker than my upper abs, I give them the attention first.

4) While I typically use just my bodyweight for most of my ab exercises, I think it's important to do weighted moves to help bring them up and get them harder. Especially in my off-season, I add a weighted element to every exercise throughout the week.

5) No matter how many ab exercises you do, you'll never see the fruits of your labor without proper nutrition. In fact, if you're hitting your abs hard and you don't watch what you eat, you run the risk of actually making your waist look bigger, even though you've developed a great set of abs underneath the fat.

6) When I want to really shed the fat and uncover my six-pack, I do plenty of cardio. I prefer using the stationary bike or StepMill first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I do anywhere from 45-60 minutes a day. I especially like the bike because it helps me keep size on my legs as I diet and lean out.

Training Split

Day                  Bodyparts Trained

1                       Chest, Abs
2                       Back, Traps, Abs
3                       Legs, Calves, Abs
4                       Shoulders, Traps, Abs
5                       Arms, Abs
6-7                     Off

Ab Workout

Exercise 1

Hanging Leg Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Hanging Leg Raise thumbnail
4 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Decline Crunch
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4 sets
20 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Decline Weighted Twist You'll need: Bench How to
Twist 1 thumbnail
4 sets
20* reps
-- rest
*Each side

Exercise 4

Cross-Body Crunch
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
20* reps
-- rest
*Each side