Why You Aren’t Getting a Six Pack!

Recently, someone in the gym asked us about an exercise we were performing, specifically inquiring if it was targeting our abs and then questioning how it differs from the abdominal crunch machine he was using. We explained that this particular variation of the abdominal crunch would activate more muscles in his core, since the weight could force his body left or right as well. 

When he showed obvious frustration and explained how he’d been using the machine for years with no progress, we asked how he was using the machine, specifically referring to how many reps and sets he was doing. When he told us that he performed 30-40 reps per set, we asked him if he was happy with his upper arms. When he said that he was indeed happy with that body part, we asked him how he trained his arms, specifically referring to how many reps and sets he was doing. When he told us that he performed 8-12 reps per set, we presented the question: why are you training your abs differently?

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With a quizzical look on his face, we explained that an overall change in his training style might yield greater results. While the abdominal crunch machine isn’t our favorite way to train abs, it certainly isn’t a bad machine. Companies have invested tons of time and money into their equipment, but not every machine can work the same for every person. 

Considering the idea that there are many ways to train abs, since they recover relatively quickly compared to other muscle groups, we’re giving you one of Hungry’s favorite core workout programs. Now, keep in mind that you can customize the exercises being performed, but there should be exercises that focus on all parts of your core. That includes the abs, obliques, lower back, glutes, and hips, since they all work together so closely. For those that acknowledge the lower and upper abs as different body parts (they’re all connected), make sure you have exercises where you bring your lower body towards your center (knee to chest) and your upper body towards your center as well (chest to knee), but let us know if you have a question about that.

They are all supersets (which means two exercises paired together), where you’re performing each superset 3 times. Each superset contains two exercises: the first exercise in the set is weighted, with a weight that will allow you to only perform about 10 reps. The second exercise strictly uses body weight (unless you want to really challenge yourself down the road) and you should aim for 30 high-quality reps. No rest within the superset and minimal rest when you move onto the next superset. Here are the exercises (each exercise is linked to an instructional page/video/picture you can follow).

1. Kettlebell Swing / Leg Raise

– If you don’t have a kettlebell, you can use a dumbbell instead… or even a jug of water. You can perform the leg raise flat on the ground or on a captain’s chair in the gym.

2. Back Extension / Plank

3. Cable Crunch / Knee Raise

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– You can substitute the knee raise for a reverse crunch, laying on the ground or on a bench. 

4. Torso Rotation / Mountain Climbers

– If your fitness facility doesn’t have a torso rotation machine, try some Russian Twists with a pause instead.

5. Abdominal Crunch / Side Plank

– We usually perform weighted ab crunches on a bench with a plate, or even a loaded barbell depending on our strength that day.

6. Wood Chopper / Inverted Row Raise

– Perform the wood chopper with cables or a heavy band for constant tension in both directions. For the inverted row raises, which is the most obscure exercise on this list, have your arms extended while hanging in an inverted row position and slowly bring one leg up towards your chest at a time. 

If you have questions about the exercises, please let us know in the comments section. Remember, the key here is to consider how effective your current ab/core routine is and make any adjustments considering our discussion with that nice man at the gym. Repetition is important, but you need to find the right program first because success is needed to stay hungry and fit!

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