There are some folks that obsess over their ab training. And when I say obsess, I mean they train abs far too long, and usually with exercises that aren't particularly effective.
Sit-ups and crunches. For hundreds and hundreds of reps. Heck, I met a female gym rat once that would perform two hour ab workouts three times per week.
Related - 5 Best (Non-Floor Crunch) Ab Exercises
My spine and lower back wept for her sanity.
Quantity never replaces quality. Only once you have mastered quality, should you start adding quantity. Get strong on the basics and then add volume. It's simple, really.
The abs are a smaller muscle group. While they are very important stabilizers, abdominal training shouldn't take up much of your workout time. 10 to 20 minutes a week is plenty.
This ab workout is designed to maximize your gym time with challenging exercises that will pack on thickness without placing unwanted stress on your lower back. Overuse of the abdominals isn't generally a good thing, and hammering away with spinal flexion for an inordinate amount of time simply isn't a wise idea.
Especially over the course of years and decades.
Each session will last approximately 10 minutes. It can be performed once or twice a week, depending on your workout split and how important core strength is to your goals.
10 Minute Abs Workout
|Best Abs Workout|
|Ab Wheel Roll-Outs||1||10-15|
|Hanging Knee Raise||1||Failure|
Perform this circuit two to three times, based on your conditioning levels. Rest only one minute in between circuits.
After ab wheel roll-outs, rest 15 seconds before moving on to barbell sit-ups. After barbell sit-ups, rest 15 seconds before moving onto the plank and knee raise superset.
It should be very easy to perform the first three exercises without feeling like an equipment hog. Simply perform your ab wheel roll-outs next to a bench station. After roll-outs, hop onto the bench and knock out your barbell sit-ups. Jump back to the floor for planks.
The only possible equipment issue here will occur during the plank and knee raise superset. If it’s not possible to jump over to hanging knees raises immediately after planks, perform bench knee-ups. This exercise will be explained below.
Ab Wheel Roll-Outs. This exercise can be performed with an ab wheel, an Olympic barbell loaded with a plate at each end, or one of the pre-fabricated mini-barbells that most gyms have on hand.
Keep your elbows slightly bent. Roll out until your lower belly or shirt touches the ground, then pull yourself back to the starting position of the exercise.
This movement can be intense at first. You might even notice the onset of a muscle cramp after a few reps. If this is the case, stop the set. You don’t want a cramp/Charlie horse ending your workout.
Barbell Sit-Ups. This movement is easier on a decline bench, where you are able to lock your feet in. If you do not have access to a decline station, either use bands tied behind the bench to lock your feet in, or place heavy dumbbells at the foot of the bench and lift your toes up during reps to remain locked-in.
Unrack the barbell and hold it straight over your chest like you were about to perform a bench press rep. Next, proceed to sit upright while keep the barbell directly overhead at all times. Lower yourself back to the starting position. This is one complete rep.
Plank. The plank is a well-known exercise. If you are unfamiliar with how to perform it, a video tutorial is presented above.
Before a plank for about 60 seconds. After you’re done, immediately hop over and knock out hanging knee raises or bench knee-ups to failure.
Hanging Knee Raise. Use straps or Versa Gripps here, if needed. The point is to work your abs, not your grip. Besides, by now you should be heavily fatigued.
From a hanging position, simply raise your knees up until your quads are parallel to the ground. Knock out reps until failure. By now your abdominal muscles should be toast.
Bench Knee-Ups. If you are unable to perform hanging knee raises, then insert this movement.
Place your backside at the end of a bench. Next, grab the bench behind you. Lean back, and move your legs straight out until they are parallel to the ground.
Draw your knees in towards your chest, and then move the feet back out until your legs are back at the starting position. Perform reps until failure.