Too many guys’ ab training is one-dimensional – same rep counts, same exercises, same tempo, over and over again. Same sh$%-, different day, same abs as before.

Needless to say, such redundancy will halt your six-pack progress in a hurry. The 7-14-21 rep scheme employed in the below routine is an effective combination of a low-rep strength exercise, a medium-rep stability exercise and a high-rep burn out.

The rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles) is the primary focus, though the obliques will definitely get some work with the knee raises and rollouts. This is a great routine to try if you’ve hit a plateau with your ab training or have fallen into the habit of only using high or low rep ranges, as the abs tend to respond well to both.

The Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo (sec.)
Hanging Knee Raise 3 7 30 sec. 5, 1, 2, 1 (slow)
Ab Rollout 3 14 30 sec. 4, 1, X, 0 (slow)
Medicine Ball Crunch 3 21 2 min. 2, 0, X, 1

Control the Tempo

In the workout chart, four numbers are listed under “Tempo.” The first number is the duration of the eccentric (negative) portion of each rep (5, 4 and 2 seconds, respectively); the second number is how long to pause at the bottom position; the third is the duration of the concentric (positive) portion; and the last number is how long to hold the top position. A “0” means no pause, and “X” means as fast as possible (in this case on the positive portion of rollouts and crunches).  

The Moves

Hanging Knee Raise

Make sure you focus on getting your knees as close to the chin-up bar as possible. If you’re just lifting your knees to 90º, you’re working your hip flexors – not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure won’t give you a six-pack.

Ab Rollouts

Start from your knees. When you can do all three sets of 14 that way, do the eccentric portion from your toes, then drop to your knees to pull the ab roller back in. Eventually, you should be able to do the entire exercise from your toes.    

Exercise Ball Crunch

The exercise ball crunches can be quick, but make sure to really squeeze your abs at the top to get a great burn.