T Nation

Ab Training Advice


Hey all. Long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

I would like some advice on ab training. I need more effective exercises and/or variety. Not interested in getting a six-pack; I just want strong abs for squatting, deadlifting and pressing.

Currently, in addition to deadlifting 1x week and front squatting 3x week (obviously, alternating heavy days/light form days), I work abs 2x per week. I have been doing the following for 3 sets each:
Leg raise
Weighted situps on decline bench
Ab rolls (knees elevated)

The leg raises feel effective and challenging, and I still have room to progress. The problem are the other exercises. Although I try to be careful with form, but my neck hurts during weight situps (I hold the weight under my chin). Maybe just a form problem? Ab rolls have gotten too easy, so I tried elevating my knees; however, I feel like the added stress is going to my shoulders, not my abs. Again, maybe just a form problem?

Could anyone recommend any other effective exercises, or how to increase the effectiveness of the exercises listed above? The catch is, I have very limited equipment. Just a power cage, barbell and adjustable dumbbells in my office (yeh, I work out in my office cuz I'm cool like that!). Once a week I go to a nearby public gym, but the equipment there isn't much better--they do have some cables, etc.

I don't really want to buy any new equipment, because I don't have the money (Also, I live in Japan, and its difficult to get equipment over here. I once gave up on purchasing a trap bar when I saw how much it costs to ship something like that overseas...)

Anyway, based on the situation/conditions listed above, any ideas??

Sorry for the long post; just wanted to give all relevant information.

Wishing everybody good gains and health!!


Heavy dumbbell side bends have good carryover to squats and deadlifts.


One arm dumbbell farmers walks

ab fallouts using blast straps / TRX etc - I used to use D handles attached to a length of chain with a caribiner - aka homemade blast straps.now I have blast straps :slightly_smiling:

knee ins - fucking brutal

standing abs on a high pulley - loose belt on, abs pushed into belt hard and curl down.

heavy front squat holds - load a bar with something you can barely get off the pins. then stand there for time.

spread eagle sit ups

ab wheel - don't have one? load a curl bar or olympic bar with a 25 on each side, then roll out and bar with that. like a giant ab wheel. plus rolling the weight makes it harder.

planks of all kinds / angles. planks on the blast straps are pretty freaking brutal too.

along the same lines of the front squat holds, get a duffle bag and put heavy sin it. I like sand bags. hold it high on the chest and walk around with it. Don't have a sand bag? pay a hooker to let you carry her around. :slightly_smiling:

'landmines' are fun. with a bar or a sand bag or even just a plate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPzvjLcGWkU

hope this helps you out dude.


do you use the little wheel for ab rollouts? if you do try them with a barbell with some weight added for wheels, it adds to the difficulty without adding to much stress on our shoulders.


If you have access to a cable unit once per week, try performing some Paloff presses, they carry over great to keeping full-body tension while squatting and deadlifting.


Thanks, I'll definitely try these.


Thanks for all the great ideas. I'll try out the front squat holds, one-arm dumbbell farmers and spread eagle situps immediately, and I'll hit the standing abs on the high pulley when I can get to the gym.

For planks, do you wear a weight vest? Or do you just go for time?

I'm intrigued by blast straps, but I would have to make my own, since I don't want to pay for overseas shipping. Is it as simple as attaching some handles to a chain?


I'll give it a try at the gym (not enough space when training in the office).


Thanks for the reply. I'll try these too!


Yes, I go for time on planks and I drape chains across my neck to add weight. I've also thrown on a belt and attached a weight to a small chain kind of like doing dips. This pulls you down right in the middle and blows up my lower back / glutes. I've even put on a regular ol backpack with a 25# plate in it.

And as for the straps, Yeah its really that simple. Get some small chain and attach a handle to it. Then attach the chains to something up high. I loop mine to the top of my power rack via an axle strap I got at an auto parts store. They were $8 each.


That's a great idea about putting on a belt with a small chain for adding weight on planks. Definitely gonna try that. Thanks so much!