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Advice on Good Ab Exercises?

Hi Dr Darden,

Is there any heavier time efficient excercise or routine on abs you would recommend?

I have a hard time finding a good replacement to excercises being performed on the floor (trunk curl/lift, crunches etc). Even alternating series of such excercises takes a lot of time, and leaving me with more left in the tank. I often end up doing too many reps, meaning the set extends into forever. Not very HIT-ish compared to my other routines.

I do use the abs machine a lot, which works well doing slower cadences, but the movement feels a bit unnatural to me. Also doing some variation with the full military sit-up, which of course uses an inappropriate amount of iliopsoas.

I could use some fresh tip on heavier, more demanding absercises or routines (or should I just accept the reality for what it is)?

Unf I don’t have access to a decline bench variation with the legs fixated (whatever that excercise is called).

Thanks in advance!

Chirnups work your abs. Try a 60-second negative, or one-time down in one minute.

At the top, with your chin over the bar, bring your knees up to your chest. Hold them briefly on your chest and start your lowering, very slowly. As you reach the half-way position, your knees should be down in line with your torso.

As you approach the bottom, pull your knees down and back, and stretch your abdominals before you place your feet on the floor.

If you can do the above in 60 seconds, your abs will get a good workout . . . and you’ll feel it the next day or so.

I really like this

Thanks Dr Darden,

This means I already have the foundation (neg chinup 60 sec) built in my routine. I now use 20 kg extra on belt. Will put some emphasis on the knees/abs then.

Thanks Voxel,

Yes, I had that routine in mind as an alternative. Is it from the “old school” book? Sounds like you’ve actually tried it. Do you do it as recommended - or apply any changes of your own?

Andy McCutcheon has some of the best abdominals I’ve ever seen. If you are interested in his take, then you must read and try his routines in Chapter 19 of The New Bodybuilding for Old-School Results. Andy grew up in England and trained with Dorian Yates at the Temple Gym. Andy is very knowledgable.


Dr. Darden, what is your opinion of the ab roller, I had one when I was teenager in the late 70s and still see a few in the gym using them


Splendid! I successfully tried the McCutcheon A cycle yesterday, and failed on the fifth excercise! It felt good. Will proceed with cycle B and C in a similar fashion to McCutcheon (though never ever coming close to his six-pack).

I’ve never used an ab roller. What’s your take on it?

I have used an ab rocker, which I like.

i recall the ab roller being hard on the lower back…i would not use it now due to my age, but as a teenager it worked very well because of being more limber

i think work the vacuum also is very important, if u can work like that x)

Pierre Van den Steen. I agree the vacuum is extremely important. The rest of that article… blurgh…

Shivering is better result producing than sweating to lose fat
Training to momentary muscular failure using 30-10-30 is better than 200 reps to stimulate muscle
Moving in a controlled manner is better than swinging leg raises for safety reasons

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aha is a old training so for sure 200 reps… but still, always peoples forget the vaccuum when that give a lot of benefice if u do it correctly even for the breathing , abs is not just for esthetic body, i was lazy to training them, but in a full body u work also your abs by squat and so on, good Abs whatever exercices, is just to not have a high body fat… but a strong core is more important than any esthetic abs

if u are not fat, u will have good abs even if u training them a bit, also some exercices for abs can be bad for the perineum, i just forget which one

I have an ab roller, which I haven’t used much. But just by coincidence, I did a couple of sets a few weeks ago, while playing around with some other programming ideas. My abs were quite sore the next day. It was a novel stimulus for me, so the soreness isn’t a surprise. But clearly it was working my abs, because those were the muscles that got really sore. Also, the roll-out part might create some degree of eccentric contraction, so that would contribute to extra soreness.

I do have a recollection from years ago of doing some standing overhead barbell presses, after a long stretch in which I had only done seated dumbbell presses. The abdominal bracing from doing the standing overhead presses also left my abs noticeably sore.

In general, I think any kind of heavy exercise where you have to brace your trunk muscles (i.e., dead lifts or squats) will do the same thing, and maybe make planks or crunches somewhat redundant.

If you have a gym membership, and it is still open, I have found that using the vertical chest press machine, but keeping your back off the support is very good. Two arms up, one arm slow negative down.