Abdominal Workouts


Abdominal Workouts

Abdominal workouts and training can be somewhat of a mystery. How many reps and sets are appropriate? How many times per week should you train them? Which ab exercises are most effective? We can help answer those, but if one thing is for certain about ab training it’s that there’s no hard evidence to support a “best ab workout.”

Shut up and let me skip to the workouts!

With that being said, here’s what we do know about ab training and what you need to keep in mind in your ripped abs pursuit:

  1. Your body is highly adaptive. To be most successful and attain your beach body’s 6 pack abs, ab training must be “consistently inconsistent.” Add variety to your workouts by altering the following:
    • exercises
    • repetitions and sets
    • order of exercises
    • number of exercises
    • resistance
    • position of exercise
    • tempo of exercise
    • type of contraction
  2. Doing ab exercises will not reduce belly fat. Despite widely held beliefs to the contrary, doing ab exercises is not how to lose belly fat and there is no such thing as a “flat stomach exercise.” The fact is, you probably already have a six pack, but it’s covered in a layer of body fat and all of the crunches in the world won’t uncover it.

    Need some more convincing? Check out our weight loss myths page for a full explanation.

    Rather than trying to target your midesection, focus on reducing your total body fat and leave our Abdominal Workouts page for now and get started on one of our Weight Loss Workouts.

  3. You cannot isolate your upper and lower abs. Despite its segmented appearance, the rectus abdominus is one muscle, and you cannot isolate the “upper and lower” abs. Therefore, there is no reason to plan your workouts with ab exercises that attempt to target different sections. See The “Upper and Lower Abs” myth for more on this common misconception.
  4. Due to the nature of ab training, you should train your abs at least 3-5 days per week and can even do so on a daily basis. All other muscles can be challenged with progressively heavier weight, but most ab exercises are performed with only the weight of your torso, in a limited range of motion. While you’re in six pack seeking mode, you’ll rarely need an additional day of recovery after the early stages.

Knowing all that, there are generally two different schools of thought when it comes to constructing abdominal workouts: Giant Sets and more traditional workouts to build muscle and increase the size of the abs.

  • Giant sets consist of several exercises strung together that train the same muscle group. Each exercise is performed one after the other with little or no rest, which will make you “feel the burn.” Because of the little or no rest time between exercises, giant sets keep your heart rate elevated, which is important in reducing body fat. The Ab ripper X from p90x is an example of a giant set.
  • The other ab training approach is to attempt to work your abs like other muscle groups with lower reps, more resistance, and fewer sets. This form of ab training is most effective if you already have a low body-fat percentage and want to strenthen and increase the size of the abs.

In the table below, you’ll find each of our corny-named abdominal workouts ordered by type as “Giant Set” or “Traditional.” Our Best Ab Exercises make up the core of these belly busters, but we’ve of course added additional exercises for variety.

Be sure to choose a new ab workout routine every 4-6 weeks or even more frequently depending on your fitness level and training experience. If your abs are a high priority, we recommend doing the abdominal workouts prior to your normal routine on training days. This will help you stay focused on the abs and keep you from cutting corners after a tough workout. You can also perform the workouts on normal rest days without overtraining.

Workout Name Workout Type Days Per Week
WRW Beginner Belly Buster Giant Set 3-5
The Terminator Giant Set 5-7
WRW Burn Baby Giant Set 5-7
WRW Beginner Ab Builder Traditional 3-4
Abdominal Showman Traditional 3-5
Roaring Ripples Traditional 3-5

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