Abs Anatomy 101





In putting together the ultimate ab routine you want to make sure to hit each of the four visible muscle groups, but by the same token, don’t want to create such a long, arduous routine that you’ll never want to do it. So, a combination of thoroughness and efficiency is key, and the best way to achieve that is by figuring a way of hitting the most areas of the abdominal region using the fewest exercises.


As you probably know, there’s a wealth of ab exercises at our disposal that cover every square inch of the midsection. But for our purposes we will limit your workout to six of our favorites, to be performed in three different pairings twice a week, followed by what we call “Gut Busters” [see Exercise Descriptions].


That’s six workouts a week — a lot to be sure — but the right amount if you want standout abs come June 21st. Also keep in mind that each of the three distinct workouts should take you a total of around five minutes — brief, but intense and effective.



While the Rectus abdominis is colloquially known by many as the “six pack,” some people may display four “rows” of abs, giving them an eight pack, while others (most notably Arnold Schwarzenegger) show just a four pack. Rather than indicate anatomical variations in the actual abdominis muscles, the number of packs a person displayed is determined by the number of bands of fascia (a kind of connective tissue) crossing the abdominal region.


Think of rubber bands stretched around a balloon. The bulges in the balloon represent the parts of the Rectus abnominis that we see. Just as strips of the balloon are pulled in and obscured by the bands, so too are strips of our abdominals pulled covered by fascia. So, no matter how many sets of crunches or leg raises you ever do, the number of rows of “abs” you have now will never change.



While it goes without saying that proper breathing is important during your training for every bodypart, during ab work it’s especially important. When you follow up a deep inhale with a forceful exhale you actually work your intercostals—muscles that lie over, under and between your ribs. In effect, you’re training them. Strong intercostals give you the ability to take deeper breaths, which helps move oxygen to hard working muscles. Think of dynamic breathing during your ab workouts as a Catch-22 with benefits.


Each of the following workouts is to be performed for four rounds, with one minute’s rest between rounds.



WORKOUT #1 [Monday]

EXERCISE                                               SETS          REPS

Captain’s chair knee raise                        1                 20

superset w/

Alternate knee crunch                               1                 20 to each knee

superset w/

Gut Buster                                                    1                 30 second hold


WORKOUT #2 [Wednesday]

EXERCISE                                               SETS          REPS

Flutter kick                                                    1                50 total

One-arm kettlebell crunch                         1                10 per side


superset w/

Gut Buster                                                     1                30 second hold


WORKOUT #3 [Friday]

EXERCISE                                               SETS          REPS

Weighted lying knee-in                             1                 15

Weighted twisting Roman Chair             1                15 to each side

superset w/

Gut Buster                                                    1                 30 second hold





via MF