Is it your dream to one day have washboard abs? Or do you want a stronger core? No matter what your fitness goals are, you need a killer ab routine to achieve them.
An intense ab workout targets more than your core; it attacks your back muscles, obliques, pelvic floor, and even your shoulders! Not sure where to start? Worry no more because this article has you covered. Read on to know more about exercises that will have you rocking a six-pack within months.
Intense Ab Workout - Warm-Up
The right way to perform an intense ab workout is to start with a couple of basic core exercises. These will help warm up the muscles in your abdomen and prepare your body for the burn.
Besides being a super simple warm-up, the plank is also one of the most effective. It engages the core and activates your muscles from head to toe. It even activates stabilizer muscles that may not always get attention.
- 1Keep your torso in a straight line for the starting position, extending from head to toe.
Avoid sagging hip or shoulders and don't arch your back or hang your head.
- 2Hold for at least 60 seconds. If you find yourself losing form, drop the position and take a quick pause for a few seconds.
Make It Harder
- 1Consider adding arm and leg lifts.
- 2After the first 60 seconds, alternate between arm lifts every 15 seconds.
- 3Hold the lift for 10 seconds on each side, then repeat with your legs.
- 4Hold your leg at least 5-10 inches off the floor and maintain the plank position for 15 seconds.
Repeat on the other side.
A warm-up is essentially incomplete without the side plank. It activates the lateral core stabilizers and charges up your obliques and traverses abdominis. Besides, the side plank stabilizes the knee and hip joints.
- 1Position your torso in a straight line on one side from head to feet.
- 2Hold for 30-60 seconds.
- 3Switch to the other side and repeat.
- 4If you feel yourself losing balance, take a quick rest for a few seconds before continuing.
Make It Harder
- 1Lift your upper leg 5-10 inches above the lower one.
- 2Hold for 10 seconds, then lower your leg for 5 seconds before repeating.
- 3Remember to do this on both sides.
Intense Ab Workout - Balloon Method
Once you finish warming up, it’s time to get into the actual abs workout. This section will walk you through a routine called the Balloon Method, where each move uses an equally advanced technique.
Remember that the details of the techniques and your form are equally important. Doing a core workout the right way guarantees you’ll progress as quickly as possible. These exercises are responsible for affecting muscle building’s three laws by developing joint flexibility, tendons, and the body’s core.
The upcoming intensity exercises are by no means easy. However, the outcome will be more than worth it. What’s more, this workout takes only 15 minutes, and you need to do it just 3 times a week!
1. WEIGHTED AB COCOONS
Weighted ab cocoons are an efficient exercise targeting the whole core, particularly the rectus abdominis. You need only perform this exercise in three sets of 10-12 reps. Don’t forget to take 60-second breaks in-between.
Check out the video so you can get down the perfect form for those chiseled abs!
- 1Get yourself a straight or EZ bar and a flat bench.
- 2Lie down on the bench while extending your legs out and your arms behind your head.
- 3Push the weight behind you with a complete extension.
- 4Bring your knees toward your chest and raise your butt off the floor. Pull your arms in with the weight under your chest.
- 5Go back to the starting position. This time lift your legs far enough off the floor, so your lower back is in complete contact with the bench.
- 6Repeat for each rep in each set.
2. Air Sprints
Lower abs, obliques
30 sec time under tension
Air sprints are another advanced exercise attacking both the lower abs and obliques. One way to make this exercise even more intense is to drop the traditional method of counting reps. Instead, perform it under tension for 30 seconds for maximum metabolic stress.
The best way to perform this exercise is in two sets of T30 with a 30-second rest in-between. Watch the video for more details on how to perfect air sprints!
- 1For the starting position, hang from a pull-up bar.
- 2Retract the scapula or the shoulder bone, and do a ⅓ pull-up.
- 3Hold this static position. Then start sprinting or running in the air.
- 4Ensure your abs contract every time your knee comes up.
- 5Keep this up under tension for at least 30-45 seconds.
3. Butterfly Crunch
30 sec time under tension
While this exercise does have the word in its name, it differs from the standard crunch. Targeting the abdominals, you need to perform this in a particular position that makes it more challenging. Once again, for this exercise, you can use T30 sets under tension instead of counting reps.
Two sets will work well enough for this exercise with a break of 30 seconds in-between. This short video will show you the perfect way to perform butterfly crunches, so take a look!
- 1Start by sitting in a butterfly position on the floor; join your feet and keep your knees open.
- 2Bring your feet closer to your bottom and ensure your legs are as close to the floor as possible.
- 3Place your hands on your temple, across your chest, or extend them out.
- 4Brace your abs and lift your upper body.
- 5Perform a crunch with a smaller range of motion while bringing your arms in between your legs.
- 6Your head should be an extension of your spine. Your lower back should not leave the floor.
- 7Hold the position for a few seconds.
- 8Contract your abs and lower your upper body to the floor.
4. XOV Crunch
30 sec time under tension
The final exercise in the Balloon Method workout for abs is the XOV Crunch. This one gets its name from the different positions you will be forming while you do it. You start with an X, move into an O, and finally make a V. While this may sound complex, it is quite the opposite and requires no equipment. Also, twisting and crunching your body into these three positions engages your entire core.
This exercise, too, works better in two 30-second sets under tension with a half-minute break in-between. Watch the video to get a better idea of your form when performing this one.
- 1Lie on the floor and make a wide X with your limbs.
- 2Follow this up with a crunch into an O-shape, bringing your legs toward the inside of your arms.
- 3Return to the beginning position. Perform another crunch but reach for your toes instead while keeping your arms between your legs.
Other Core Exercises To Try
The Balloon Method is very effective. That said, if you want to switch up your routine, here are a few other exercises that work your abs.
Medicine Ball Russian Twist Slam
The Russian Twist is an excellent exercise for an abs workout targeting the rectus abdominis and the obliques. Here's how you can perform it with a medicine ball:
- 1Lie down on your back while holding a medicine ball to your chest.
- 2Brace your core and raise your feet off the floor. Rest on your sit bones.
- 3Ensure you elevate your cheat and have a straight back. Then push the ball out six inches from your chest.
- 4Twist your body to the right by the torso and bounce the ball near your right hip.
- 5Repeat on the left side and keep alternating.
- 6Perform as many times as possible within half a minute. Repeat the circuit at least 2-3 times. Take a 5-second rest between each set.
The bicycle crunch targets your rectus abdominis, obliques, and hips. So without a doubt, it is a fantastic addition to a core workout. Here’s how you can do it:
- 1Lean back on the floor and place your hands behind your ears.
- 2Keeps your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and raise both feet off the ground. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor as well.
- 3Start by bringing your right elbow toward your left knee while stretching your right leg out.
- 4Reverse the movement for the other side. Bring your left elbow to the right knee while extending your left leg. Continue to alternate.
- 5Perform as many reps as possible in half a minute. Repeat the set at least 2-3 times.
Take a 5-second rest in-between each circuit.
The mountain climber is an exercise that should be part of your abs workout. After all, it works your core, your shoulders, hamstrings, triceps, and quads. Here’s how you can perform it:
- 1Get into a high plank position. Brace your core and place your hands right under your shoulders. Engage your core for stabilized hips.
- 2Push your right knee into your chest.
- 3Lower your right leg to the ground. Repeat the move with your left leg.
- 4Continue alternating. Also, pump your legs as quickly as possible to feel a good burn.
- 5Perform as many reps as you can in T30. Repeat for at least 2-3 sets. Rest for 5 seconds after each set.
The Cold Reality About Your Abs
Before you jump into the exercises, there’s something you need to understand. If you have over 15% body fat, your abs won’t see the light of day even if you do a million crunches. The simple reason being, core exercises have to do with building muscles. They have little to do with losing weight.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, remember that 75% of your fat loss boils down to diet. Unsure of how many calories you should be eating to get rid of the fat around your abs? Check out the free SuperHuman Calorie Calculator to make things that much simpler for you!
Now, you know that a core workout can only prepare your abs to look ripped once you lose the fat. However, there are a few other myths about these workouts:
So there you have it! A common misconception about ab workouts is you need to give up on your favorite snacks or food entirely. In reality, though, the perfect balance of training and diet will have you hitting those body fitness goals in no time.
The Balloon Method, in particular, will give you that six-pack while letting you have all the cheat meals you want! So try it out during your next workout.