How Markus Kaulius slowly built one of the best midsections in the business.
By Mike Carlson
Markus Kaulius walks around looking like this, but it wasn’t always this way. Even though the long and lean Kaulius looks like he came out of the womb with photo shoot–ready abs, his midsection is actually a product of long-term planning and a relentless hunger for improvement.
“It is something I had to develop. I was a skinny-fat guy. Even at my skinniest—124 pounds and 6’4 ½” inches tall—I still had a belly. People would pick on me for having a belly,” he says. “Over the last eight to 10 years I have really focused on the core.”
You pick up a lot of wisdom over 10 years, and here we pick Kaulius’ brain on how he developed and maintains an industry-leading abdomen.
Training: With the help of his trainer, Jean-Jacques Barrett, Kaulius has synthesized the program shown here. He hits his abs five days a week for about 15 minutes at a time. He will choose two exercises (from a long and ever-growing list) and perform them in superset fashion.
“I always train abs first. That is one of the keys to my success. I always start with abs,” he says. “You need that quality, being able to squeeze hard enough. At the end of a workout, you just don’t have the energy left in your body.”
Kaulius’ other training also contributes to his ripped abs. Five day a week he does an hour of fasted cardio first thing in the morning. Additionally, his weight-training workouts with Barrett burn a ton of calories and focus heavily on drop-sets, supersets, and overall intensity
Nutrition: “You can’t out-train a bad diet,” Kaulius says. “‘Diet’ is my answer to 90 percent of the questions I receive. When I get asked, ‘Why am I not getting the results I want?’ ‘Diet.’ Or, ‘How do I lose the last 10 pounds?’ ‘Diet.’”
Kaulius credits his training with Barrett for bringing his abs into sharp relief. Second to his trainer is his recent reliance on meal prep company MealsAweight.com. “Having food prepped every day is incredible. And they have it down to the calorie,” he says. “I am getting exactly what I need every day and nothing else. That has made a hug difference in the quality of my muscle.”
Deprivation and calorie-slashing is not part of the plan, though. By his own admission, Kaulius eats a mountain of food every day and eschews extreme calorie-cutting or ultra-low-carb programs. In fact, even on his “low carb” days he was still eating approximately 250 grams of carbs a day.
Supplements: As founder and CEO of Magnum Nutraceuticals, Kaulius has access to unlimited amounts of one of the most high-quality supplement lines on the market. No surprise then that he takes full advantage.
Before he begins his morning fasted cardio, he pops the L-carnitine supplement Carne Diem as well as the thermogenic Heat Accelerated. (If he’s taking a break from stimulants, which he does every few months to give his adrenals a rest and allow his tolerance to come back down, he will skip the thermogenic.) During cardio he’ll drink the BCAA-based performance enhancers Hi-5 and Opus. In the morning hours, he’ll also take Magnum’s testosterone-supporting supplements Tonic and Thrust. Ultimately Kaulius feels that one of the most important weapons in his supplement arsenal is the estrogen-suppressor E-Brake, since estrogen has been linked to belly-fat accumulation
“It just takes one step. Put one foot in front of the other. If you look at this huge mountain, you think it will never happen,” Kaulius says. “I just look at the step in front of me and then the next step and the next. It takes years of practice, but you have to train your brain that this is how you think now.”
Pick two of the following exercises and perform 15 reps of each in superset fashion. Complete four supersets for a total of 120 reps. Kaulius will do this program five days a week and always before his main workout. By maintaining a deep pool of exercises and constantly mixing up the variations, Kaulius feels you don’t have to overthink movement patterns and planes of motion. With this kind of frequency and variability, it’s nearly impossible not to cover your bases.
|Exercise Ball Pike||15|
|Exercise Ball Exchange||15|
|Lithuanian Corkscrew||15 each side + 15 finisher|
|Cable Rope Crunch||15|
|Incline Bench Knee-Up||15|
|Dumbbell Push Crunch||15|
Dragon Flag: This is the ab exercise made famous by Bruce Lee. Lie flat on your back and grab something solid behind your head, such as a post or the pad of a bench. Extend your legs towards the ceiling and bring your hips off the floor, so that only your head and shoulder blades are making contact with the surface. Point your feet at the ceiling, keep your legs straight and maintain a straight line from your torso through your legs. Very slowly, lower your legs until they are parallel with the bench or floor, then bring them back up just as slowly. Kaulius considers this the most difficult exercise in his repertoire and has spent a lot of time working up to 15 reps. Beginners should start with four reps and focus strictly on control.
Exercise Ball Pike: Get into a push-up position with your shins on an exercise ball. Keeping your legs straight, exert force through your arms and shoulders and pull your knees toward your chest. Hinge at the hips and allow your butt should move toward the ceiling. To initiate movement, focus on and control the lower abs. This is a great stabilizer workout because it forces you to keep the ball from moving back and forth.
Exercise Ball Exchange: Find an area with plenty of floor room, and lie faceup with an exercise ball held between your outstretched hands. Flex your abs and bring your arms and legs slightly off the floor. This is the start position. Raise your straight legs and your torso so your body forms a V. Pass the ball to your feet and return to the ground. Touch the ball to the floor and then come back up to a V and pass the ball back to your hands. Return to the floor and touch the ball to the ground. That is one rep.
Lithuanian Corkscrew: Lie faceup on a bench, and point your feet at the ceiling with your knees slightly bent. Lift your hips off the bench and push your feet toward the ceiling. As you extend your legs, rotate your feet and lower body to one side. Square your hips as you come back to the starting position. Perform 15 reps to one side and then 15 to the other side. As a finisher, rotate your bent knees left to right 15 times.
Russian Twist: Sit on a decline abs bench, with your feet positioned under the pads. Grasp a 25-pound plate with both hands and lean back until there is maximum tension on your abs. Slowly rotate your body to the right, bringing the plate to the outside of your right hip. Pick the weight up and slowly bring it across your body to your left hip. Make sure the motion comes from your torso and not just your arms. Bringing the weight to both the left side and right side equals one rep.
Cable Rope Crunch: Kneel below a high pulley that is holding a triceps rope attachment. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand with an overhand grip. Put a small bend in your hips and allow the weight to slightly hyperextend your lower back. Hold each end of the rope close to the top of your head. Flex at the waist and contract your abs so your elbows come close to the floor. Forcefully and audibly expel all the air from your lungs when you reach peak contraction. Slowly return to the start position.
Incline Bench Knee-Up: Lie faceup on an incline bench. Grasp the end of the pad behind your head for support. Contract your abs and bring your knees in between your elbows and close to your face. Slowly roll the spine back down to the starting position. Lightly touch your feet to the floor and begin the next rep without releasing the tension form your abs. This is a relatively short movement that is challenging not only for your abs but your upper body as well.
Dumbbell Push Crunch: Sit on an abdominal bench and secure your feet under pads. (You can do it with unsecured feet, but it is much harder and you’ll need to use lighter weight.) With a moderately weighted dumbbell in each hand, lie back and extend your arms holding the weights in a shoulder-width grip at arms’ length over the chest. Flex at the waist and raise your torso while keeping your arms locked. Come all the way up until your torso is perpendicular to the floor and the weights right above your head. Do not take off the tension at the top. Slowly return to the start, keeping your arms straight and extended the whole way.