The Best Ab Exercise You Aren't Doing

As a Personal Trainer the three most common questions I get asked are “What do you eat?” “How do you train your abs?” and “Can you really kill a man with just one bare hand?”

Now the answers to all these questions vary, but they are related.  What you eat will have just as much impact on your abs as how you train them.  Obviously if you have strong abs it’s more likely that you can kill a man with just one bare hand.  That goes without saying.

Gymnasts have the best abs.  Both aesthetically and from a performance standpoint.  They spend hours and hours a week training their core and visible abs.  We don’t have time for that.  I tend to train abs for maybe 10 minutes at the end of every other workout. 

This is a gymnastics exercise I have modified to make more difficult, so you can see great results in a shorter amount of time.

The hollow body is a staple in gymnastics training.  It is performed by lying on your back with your hands at your side (palms facing the ceiling).  Then you lift both your shoulder blades and legs a few inches off the ground.  This puts the entire abdominal structure under tension, forcing your muscles to get stronger.

Gymnasts will hold this for days, sometimes even weeks. 

The hollow body leg raise is a variation that is harder than the hold and will work your entire abdominal structure.

You start by lying on the ground.  You then extend your arms towards the ceiling, and lift your shoulder blades slightly off the ground.  To make it more difficult you can hold a weight.

Instead of lifting your legs off the ground and holding them there, you will perform 8-10 leg lifts. If you can perform 15 of these while holding a weight you are a stud and no longer need to read this website.

The point is not to contract the abs to touch your toes, but to keep them under constant tension while you are in the "reaching" position.  By locking down your upper abs, you will focus entirely on the lower abs.  Hitting a trouble spot for many people.

Your ab training routine does not have to last for 6 hours.  You can accomplish a lot in six minutes if you choose the right exercises and remember to add resistance.  Give this a try in your next program and let me know how much you hate it!


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I'm full of annoyingly hard ideas for exercises like this. If you're happy with the way you look, you can stop reading right now.  If you need a change, if you need to work smarter, if you need to build confidence you should train online with me.  I'll help you change your body and show you how to build the confidence that will last a life time.

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Patrick Henigan