Tip: Block Training For Beefy Abs

Here's how to train your abs daily for rapid aesthetic improvements.

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Every Day Abs?

My strategy for ab training? Using blocks of intense abdominal training where I hit them every day for 4-6 weeks.

You can recover rapidly from pretty much any abdominal exercises except those full range GHD sit-ups you see in CrossFit. (This movement creates a powerful stretch of the rectus abdominis – especially when done with the speed they use – which will cause a lot of muscle damage, and require more recovery time.)

Daily ab training at an adequate level of intensity is one of the fastest ways of improving abdominal aesthetics, provided you’re lean enough to show them. The “abs are made in the kitchen” mantra isn’t quite accurate. Abs are simply revealed in the kitchen: you must be lean. Building them through direct training will increase the likelihood of seeing them. It’ll also make it easier to see them at a slightly higher body fat level.

For example, even when I’m at around 13-15% body fat I can still see a clear 6-pack because the muscle bellies of the rectus abdominis are so thick they create a contrast between themselves (the “packs” portion) and between the tendinous sections that separate them.

In contrast, I’ve known plenty of figure competitors who don’t do loaded abdominal work (or any abdominal work) to avoid “making their waist bigger” who show no abdominal separation even at very low levels of body fat. Training abs with added resistance – so that you fatigue at 6-12 reps – is how you increase the thickness of the muscle bellies and increase abdominal separation.

You also need to do your ab work the right way. Use this approach when training abs:

  1. Start by flexing the abs as hard as you can before even starting the rep. Imagine getting punched in the stomach.
  2. While maintaining the tension, initiate your rep. Don’t go up too fast. Focus on being able to maintain the tension.
  3. At the end of the concentric range of motion, once again try to contract your abs as hard as you can. They should already be contracted hard, but you likely can increase the contraction even more.
  4. Do the eccentric or negative while trying to maintain maximum muscle tension.

I like to superset one loaded ab exercise with an unloaded one. You do 3 sets of one superset every day. A few suggestions:

Option 1

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Seated Cable Crunch Facing Machine 3 6-12
A2 Swiss Ball Crunch 3 6-12

Note: The goal is to make each rep so hard that it’s impossible to get more than 12 reps.

Option 2

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Seated Cable Crunch Facing Away From Machine 3 6-12
A2 Hollow Body Hold (Max time 30-45 seconds) 3 45 sec.

Note: If you have other ab exercises you respond well to, feel free to use them instead.

Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.