How I Train Abs

I have a confession: as much as I love to work out, I hate training abs! It has never been fun to me or something that I focus on.

I do have to admit though that all through middle school and highschool I did tons and TONS of crunches all the time...because back then I had the mindset that the more crunches I did, the better my stomach would look(if only)!

Well, now of course I know that's not really true and that's it's mostly nutrition that produces 6 pack abs. I didn't realize that I couldn't get the stomach I wanted because I was eating Happy Meals and Reese cups every day(oh, to be a teenager again)!

Now that I eat much healthier, I can finally see the abs I was never able to see before. Although I have now come to the conclusion that I will never have 6 pack abs, as that would require extremely strict dieting and very low body fat and is just not worth it to me. So a 2 or 4 pack will have to do. ;)

My abs routine when I was doing bodybuilding style workouts consisted of 2-3 ab exercises at the end of a workout 2-3 times a week. I did exercises like leg raises, decline bench crunches, ball crunches, reverse crunches, bicycles, cable crunches and all that boring fun stuff.

However, my ab training in the past couple years has changed. I don't train abs near as much as I used to or do the same exercises. People are usually surprised when I tell them that I don't really do that much for my abs. What they don't realize is that I'm working them with all the heavy lifting that I do. Overhead presses, squats, pullups, pushups-they all work the abs.

So here's what I do now: at the end of a workout, 2-3 times a week, I pick one(maybe two) exercises that target the abs for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, depending on the exercise. The exercises that I choose from are: ab wheel rollouts, ball pikes or knee tucks, hanging leg raises, decline bench situps with weight, and L-sit holds. In addition to that, I may do a couple sets of some sort of plank variation and that's it!

So I'd say that if you want abs, don't focus on training them! Focus on the bigger, compound lifts that work your whole body as well as your core and burn a ton of calories. As long as your diet is good, I guarantee that you will start seeing a those abs show a little bit more. ;)

Here's a video that demonstrates a few good core exercises:


  1. Haha, I can definitely relate to this. I HATE doing ab work. I used to do so much of it when I was a teenager. I was a ballet dancer, and danced 5 days a week where I had to engage my core the whole time, and then I did like 20 minutes of ab work on top of that every night! I had a raging six pack, but only because I barely ate anything.

    I recently went six months where I didn't do a single isolation exercise for my abs. It was marvelous. Unless I'm at a low enough level of body fat, why would I waste time doing crunches?!

  2. I love this mentality! I was the same way---crunches all the time believing that it was the only way to work my core.
    But after changing my strength chaining to heavy compound lifts, I really only work my core with 1-2 exercises maybe 2x a week.
    I mean I am not going to lie-- I would LOVE a six pack and I constantly strive towards achieving it-- but either way a muscular core with an attainable body fat % that I can easily have day in and day out is much more important to me!


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