The PERFECT Abs Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

What's up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.


Today we continue our perfect workout series.

This time, with one of the most requested:The Perfect Ab Workout.

Guys, you have to realize we're not just talkingabout the rectus abdominus when we're talking about an ab workout.

A lot of times people use the all-inclusiveterm of 'abs' to mean much more than that.

To mean the obliques, to mean the transverseabdominus, maybe even to mean the serratus because all these muscles matter, and they'reall going to be included, and worked in our workout here.

But how are we going to dictate what's soperfect? Guys, you know I've said it before; there'sno such thing as one, singular, perfect workout.

But we have to include some features to makeit a really damn good one.

When it comes to the abs, it's less aboutthe exercises – because we know we have, literally, hundreds, if not thousands of opportunitieshere to pick from different exercises.

It's more about making sure we hit the mainfunction and make sure we hit the main sequence of how we want to train these muscles.

I'll start with the sequence.

When you're training your abs, because thebottom up movements tend to be heavier and harder because the weight of your legs isalways going to be more difficult than lifting your torso, you want to start with those whenyou have the most energy.

You're going to find if you save your bottomup movements toward the end you're not going to get as much out of them.

So, we work in this particular sequence that'sgoing to work its way all the way through both variations of this workout.

That's right.

I said 'both' because I'm going to includea beginner and a more advanced version of these workouts because I know people are atdifferent levels that want to follow this.

As a matter of fact, to make it really easyI'm going to include the use of just a band and a pullup bar.

So even if you're doing this at home, you'renot going to have a hard time following along.

Guys, when we talk about the function, theabs do a lot of different things.

They don’t just do this.

That's what a lot of people think they do.

They think they just crunch.

As a matter of fact, they control motion inthe opposite direction.

They'll pull you back and control that.

We want to make sure we make that functionif we're going to have a complete workout.

They also control motion in other directions.

They prevent us from lateral movement if it'sunnecessary or unwanted.

And we can work exercises that can do that, too.

They'll also prevent rotation.

We can stay right here in the middle and havesomeone push our arms left or right and not have them go anywhere, and the main functionthere is attributed to the abs and the obliques.

We also know that they can control rotation.

They can let it happen but happen under yourcontrol.

As a matter of fact, they can become maindrivers of rotation.

Explosive, powerful drivers of rotation.

Any workout that overlooks this aspect ofit isn't doing its due diligence.

So, we want to make sure that we include thatfunction as well.

We're going to include all the proper functionsand hit them in the right sequence, and go through all the anatomy here, so you guysunderstand what it is you're trying to accomplish, and get a peak at the muscles that are doingthe job for you.

When it comes to the anatomy part, sometimesit can be confusing.

But it's all made so much easier when we dowhat we always do with the “Perfect” series, and that is breaking out the muscle markers.

As you can see here, the six-pack muscle, the rectus abdominus, is pretty identifiable.

As a matter of fact, what I want you to lookat is not just how easily noticeable it is, but what is the direction of the fibers? What is it attaching? It's going up and down, north and south, attachingthe ribcage down to the pelvis.

It's driving the movement of flexion of ourbody, top down or bottom up.

We know we can take advantage of this motion, at the same time realizing that it's not the only thing that happens because all you'vegot to do is look at another muscle here, like the obliques.

If you look at the external obliques, whichare the visible muscles above the internal obliques, you can see that the direction isoriented at an angle.

At an oblique angle.

That's where they got the name from.

The driver of this is that it has a differentfunction.

It's going to be really good at helping usto rotate and control rotation like I talked about.

So, we're going to have opportunities to dothat if we follow the fibers, like always.

The internal obliques, ironically, run atthe direct opposite direction.

But it does the same thing.

It controls rotation in another way, again, working in concert with the obliques on the other side to produce some really magnificentthings when it comes to rotation.

But then we can look at another muscle here.

That's the transverse abdominus.

This one runs more like a weight belt.

Literally, around your waist.

With the idea being this is driving stability.

We want to take advantage of that becausewe can do that on certain exercises better than others to really get more out of it.

I'm going to show you how to do that.

Finally, the forgotten core muscle, as I'vealways eluded to, the serratus.

The interdigitation – that's right, I said'interdigitation' – of the obliques with the serratus itself is there for a reason.

There's a reason why they work together andprefer to work together.

If we can do that, we will achieve a levelof perfection that other workouts that don’t do this are missing.

So, we kick this off with a bottom up movement.

Remember, we talked about wanting to do themwhen we're stronger or have more energy.

The bottom up movement will drive this.

If you look at the beginner version here, we start with the iso reverse crunch, with the main function being focused on that pelvis.

In the beginning I talked about how the attachmentof the ribcage to the pelvis means we're trying to bring the pelvis toward the ribcage, notget a swing.

You don’t see me doing this.

You don’t see me swinging the legs downand up, down and up.

That becomes a hip flexor driven movement.

If we just isolate the lifting of the pelvis, we're going to do a better job of hitting the abs and making them do what they're supposedto be doing.

Now, if you want to make this more difficult, we'd look over here at the advanced side.

This is a hanging X-Ray.

The advantage of the hanging x-rays is twofold.

Number one: it's more difficult because wehave to lift the weight of our legs, as opposed to having a bent leg.

Number two: we're lifting them for a longerperiod of time than we are when we're laying down.

The strength curve of these exercises aredifferent.

More prolonged tension on the hanging raisethan we would be in any variation of a laying down raise.

More importantly, another thing we have isthe accessory movement of being able to bring the legs together, to adduct the legs, stabilizingthe pelvis from the bottom up with the activation of the adductors.

So, the x-rays allow us to do that.

So, either way, if you're starting to buildthe perfect beginner workout, or if you're starting to build the advanced workout, thisis where you want to start.

Moving onto the next exercise here, this isour bottom up rotation movement.

If you look at the beginner version here, we have something called the seated ab circle.

This is an exercise where we get some upperbody stability because we can keep our hands in contact with the ground, which is perfectfor the beginners doing these workouts.

We're going to make clockwise circles andcounterclockwise circles.

If you want to make it more difficult, wejust step it up a little bit.

We do these hanging leg spirals.

Again, this is like a hanging leg raise, whichwe know is more difficult with the extended length of the legs, but we're going to adda little bit of a hip twist at the end to get that rotation.

In either case what I want you to notice isthe rotational stability function.

We mentioned it in the beginning.

We're not trying to prevent rotation here.

As a matter of fact, we're not trying to doanything explosive with rotation, but we are trying to control the amount of rotation wehave.

Once again, as we glimpse back, we start tosee this ab workout take shape.

Whether it be in the beginner's form or themore advanced form, we're on our way to hitting both the functions and the sequence we'reafter to make this thing work its best.

Sticking with the rotational theme now, we'removing up to the obliques.

Again, this is where I like to situate thesemuscles when it comes to the entirety of the workout.

If you train the obliques too late, once again, I think you wind up feeling too fatigued to do them well.

So, what we want to do at the beginner levelis perform this recliner elbow to knee tuck.

The main thing to focus on here is the function.

We're driving rotation here and we're drivingit in the direction of the fibers of the obliques.

Remembering that both the internal obliqueand external oblique are going to work together to drive rotation in one direction and thenthe opposite pair are going to drive rotation back in the other direction.

As we move onto the more difficult versionhere for the advanced, now we're looking at something called the tornado chop.

This is where we're going to first utilizethe band with the hanging pullup bar.

What we want to do here is add some resistance.

Driving the band down into the side.

Again, creating rotation.

The idea being, no matter what you do foryour obliques, you'd better be twisting or moving in some direction left or right ifyou really want to hit them the hardest.

This is a great opportunity and as we buildout these workouts, yet again, here's the beginner, here's the advanced.

You can start to see this is really startingto take shape.

Now we start to move on and transition awayfrom all the bottom up driven movements into some midrange movement.

We're still involving the bottom up, but we'recombining with some top down motion.

You can see at the beginner level we're doingsomething called the opposite side elbow to knee.

This is a variation of the plank.

You guys know I'm not a huge fan of a plankwhen it comes to using it as an exercise that's more remedial.

If we know we can hold a plank for 2, 3, 4minutes then you're not doing a hard-enough version of the plank.

This is the first place I would have a beginnerstep up because what we're doing here is challenging some rotational stability and that anti-extensioncomponent.

That function of the ab to prevent our lowback from caving in when we do lift two points of contact off the ground.

If you want to do this for the advanced, we'regoing to move the top down and the bottom up, but we're going to do them at the sametime, and we're going to add a little bit of a twist to it with this scissor V-up.

Here, we're just trying to keep the leg scissorgoing and the V-up going at the same time.

This is a little easier than it looks becausethe top down motion is going to help shorten that lever arm of the legs, in relation tothe torso.

But don’t be fooled.

This is not easy.

But it is doable.

Especially at this point in the workout.

As you see, once again, we keep building upthese workouts here.

No matter which one you're following, thisis a challenging workout, but it will be rewarding.

I promise.

Here is probably my favorite part of the workout.

Some of my favorite exercise choices occurright here with top down rotation because most of the time they are top down drivenwith our feet in contact with the ground.

The first exercise here, if you're more ofa beginner, is going to work on that anti-rotation component and function of the abs.

That is this oak tree step out.

Here you want to get the band out in frontof your body, extended as long as you can.

You're going to step out as far as you canwithout letting any movement of the arms go back in the opposite direction.

If you're strong enough, if you can preventrotation, your arms wont budge.

If you start to see that they drift back tothe anchor point every, single time, then you're not strong enough.

You either need to lighten the resistanceof the band or you need to step out a little bit less.

Now, when we move to the more advanced sideof it, this gives us a great opportunity t become more explosive.

Here we can do something called the sledgehammerswing, which is a very explosive rotational, ground-based movement.

Again, why I love these top down rotationalmovements.

You can see here; I'm driving a lot of rotation.

Even from – you can see the pivoting ofthe foot on the ground to help me get as much power and force as I can.

This could easily be a med ball throw againsta wall where you can express full power because you're getting rid of the ball.

As I've said, we're not limited to just theseexercises.

There are so many options, but if you understandthe mindset of why we selected what we did here, then the opportunity to add differentexercises in here will be infinite.

Now that we've fully transitioned to the topdown movements, we have an exercise in common.

Differentiating only between the beginnerand advanced version by the resistance of the band you're using.

Before you think you have to run out and buya different band, you don’t.

You just have to wrap it in a different way.

If I wrap it through itself like this, wehave the single band that we're going to pull down on, as you see me doing here in the beginnerversion.

If I want to make this more difficult, allI have to do is wrap it over the bar, and then grab one portion of it in each hand, and I've effectively doubled the resistance by shortening the length of that band.

But either way, there are two things I wantyou to focus on in these top down movements.

The first one is how we're doing it.

You will not see me doing this.

I'm not sitting back with my hip flexors.

I'm not just allowing my pelvis to drop downtoward my heels.

As a matter of fact, if I do this right mypelvis should never go toward my heels.

We want to do what the anatomy dictates.

That is, pulling the ribcage down, and forward, toward the pelvis.

Just sitting back in there is just cheatingyour way through every, single rep and you're not going to get anything out of it.

The second thing you want to focus on is what'shappening here with the transverse abdominus.

Remember I talked about that muscle in thebeginning.

This a great opportunity and place to workit.

Can we create some stability of the core bracing, if you will, before we do that? As a matter of fact, you'll find less tendencyto want to drop down into that hip flexor cheat if you do this bracing first.

To do that, you just want to flatten yourstomach out.

What would it feel like if you just walkedyourself into an ocean full of ice-cold water? You'd want to pull in and flatten becauseof how cold it is.

You want to do the same thing here.

You flatten, and tighten, and use that internalweight belt to create the stability.

Once it's there, then you pull down and forward, toward the pelvis.

We are constructing these perfect workoutsside to side so you can jump back and forth, if need be, or follow on one track.

Either way, you're on the right track.

Finally, where most ab workouts would be overat this point, ours is not quite there yet.

We've got one more exercise.

We want to work the serratus.

I talked about its involvement in integrationwith the obliques and why we want to do it.

As a matter of fact, it's part of our HolyTrinity when we talked about this in a previous video.

The fact is, we can do this pretty easily.

If you're a beginner I want you to do thisexercise here called the plank push away.

What we do is get ourselves in that plankposition – but not to do planks, to do something more – and that is, we're going to driveour forearms down into the ground.

Get the shoulder blades to be separated.

Start with them pinched together and separatethem as far as you can by protracting them, by pushing through the forearms into the floor.

You'll feel this activate the muscles rightthere in the serratus, that will create some stability of the shoulder blades as they relateto your entire ribcage.

That is important.

That is a function of core stability.

So, we can work that here and at the sametime, help develop the muscles that are going to be clearly visible as they work togetherwith the obliques.

If we want to make this more difficult, wecan do this plank punch out.

As I punch the band out and away from my body, it's that extra push.

Don’t just get it out in front of you.

Push out in front, and then another 2″ or3″.

You'll really feel the serratus doing thework.

There you have it, guys.

The perfect ab workout in the books.

Regardless of whether you're following thebeginner version you see here, or the advanced version I'm going to show you in a coupleseconds, the fact of the matter is, you have to understand there is no such thing as 'perfect'.

We know we can have a lot of other ab exercisesthat could comprise this workout, but when you understand why you're doing what you'redoing, and how to do what you're doing you can come pretty damn close to perfect.

This is my best attempt.

If you're looking for programs where we dothe same thing, we try to put the science into the selection of what we do because weknow how much it matters, all our programs are based on that same principle.

They're all available over at ATHLEANX.


If you're looking for more of the perfectworkouts, they're all available for you on this channel.

You've just got to make sure you've subscribedand turn on your notifications, so you never miss one.

At the same time, anything you want me tocover, I'll do my best to do that for you.

Just leave it down in the comments below andI'll try to do that in the days and weeks ahead.

All right, I'll see you soon.


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