To Top

Another Brick In The Wall

For a stunning set of abs, you have to add some weight to your workout

By Eric Broser


In my 27-year career as a trainer and contest prep coach, I have never come across anyone who wasn’t interested in making significant improvements to their midsection. For some that simply means losing belly fat and achieving a flatter tummy. For others greater core strength is the primary goal. However, for most serious gym rats the ultimate achievement is a rock-hard, shredded six-pack. While many “gurus” out there might claim that great abs are not manifested in the gym, but rather via diet and some cardio, let me assure you that in order to present a truly impressive abdominal wall, each “brick” must be built—both thick and deep. With that in mind, here are three of my favorite exercises meant to do just that.



Exercise 1: Parallel Bars Straight Leg Raise

Stand in between a set of parallel bars and lift yourself into what would be the starting point for performing dips. While holding your torso locked in this position raise your legs to just above parallel by flexing the hips. Hold at the top for about one second and then slowly lower your legs back down while keeping your abs tight throughout.

Tip: Try your best not to focus on your hip flexors, and think to yourself, “Lift with the abs.”

Exercise 2: Barbell Push Crunch

Sit down on an abdominal incline bench set between 30 and 60 degrees, making sure to secure your feet under the pad before lying back into the starting position. Have someone hand you a moderately weighted barbell, which should be held with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and positioned at arms’ length over the chest. Flex at the waist to raise your torso while keeping your arms locked in position. Do not allow your lower back to rise off the bench. Squeeze your abs hard at the top for a second or two before lowering carefully back to the starting position.

Tip: Pick a spot above you on the ceiling and remain fixated on it throughout the set. Pretend the goal is to touch the barbell to that spot on every rep.

Exercise 3: Cable Twists

With both hands, grasp a stirrup handle set at about shoulder height on a cable pulley. Your far hand should be placed over your other with fingers interlocked. Facing sideways to the weight stack, step away from the pulley until your near arm is both horizontal and straight. With your feet spaced just beyond shoulder-width apart, bend at the knees slightly and lift your near heel off the floor, resting on the ball of your foot. While keeping the arms straight, rotate the torso to the opposite side (across your body) until the cable makes contact with the shoulder. Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.

Tip:  Attempt to initiate the movement by using abdominal power and not by pulling with the arms.


Ab-Etching Workout

  1. Parallel Bars Straight Leg Raise: 3 x maximum reps
  2. Barbell Push Crunch: 3 x 12-15 reps
  3. Cable Twist: 2 x 16-20 reps per side

*This workout can be performed two times per week, with two days’ rest in between.




Why Don’t I Have ABS?

Okay, so your body fat is now in the single digits and you are in the gym hitting abs two to three days per week, but yet, your stomach looks nothing like the dudes in the magazines. Let’s take a quick look at a few possible reasons why.

No Resistance: Abs are muscles just like your delts and triceps, so why not train them in a similar manner? Doing sets of endless reps of leg lifts and crunches are not going to build jaw-dropping abdominals any more than bodyweight push-ups will develop an Arnold-like chest. If you really want some deep “squares” in your midsection, you should not be afraid to perform weighted abdominal exercises that limit you to just 12 to 15 slow and controlled reps.

Quick Choppy Repetitions: If there is any muscle group that should be exercised with slow-paced, meticulously performed reps, it’s the abs. Pay careful attention to achieving a full range of motion from stretch to contraction, and make sure to get an intense squeeze at top. Fast reps will do little to overload the abs and will more likely result in injury or inferior results.

Lack Of Intensity: So many lifters are working under the false notion that all it takes to create a truly outstanding six-pack are a few easy sets of crunches and leg lifts at the end of a workout. But and if you really want to carve bricks into your belly, you have to train them with similar intensity to all of the other muscles on your body.  So don’t leave the gym without putting a serious hurting on your abs!


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Abs

  • The Ab Exception

    Does everyone need dedicated core training? Yes, they do. By Vince Del Monte   Let me frame the question we’ll be...

    Sharon OrtigasAugust 21, 2017
  • Signature Abs

    How Markus Kaulius slowly built one of the best midsections in the business. By Mike Carlson   Markus Kaulius walks around...

    Sharon OrtigasMay 4, 2017
  • The Mechanical Advantage

    This relatively painful intensity technique can lead to rapid gains in size. By Vince Del Monte This month I want to...

    Sharon OrtigasApril 14, 2017
  • Mad Abs

    To get an insane midsection, you’ll have to get a little bit crazy By Nick Nilsson   The abdominal area is...

    Sharon OrtigasFebruary 3, 2017
  • Athletic Abs

    Your core needs to be strong, functional, and ready for anything.  By Cooper Graham   Sit-ups and sports have traditionally gone...

    Sharon OrtigasJanuary 11, 2017
  • Ground Control To Major Abs

    Develop your core musculature with these three novel exercises.  By Mike Carlson   It’s not often that something new hits the...

    Asim NaveedOctober 21, 2016
  • Core Power

    Five exercises that develop your midsection for total-body strength. By Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex LBC   It seems that strength...

    swarnavaSeptember 15, 2016
  • Every Day Is Abs Day

    Ab Training The power and glory of a ripped midsection can be yours with this user-friendly format. By Jay Ashman  ...

    swarnavaAugust 26, 2016
  • Crazy Abs with Ako Rahim

    The journey of building muscles into a beautiful and symmetrical physique is filled with starts, restarts, doubling back, and entering unassigned...

    Iron Man MagazineMay 31, 2016