You’ve probably been doing ab exercises forever, and you probably hate them, especially since you’ve never achieved the six pack you wanted. To help you achieve your goal, Men’s Health presents Epic Abs, a new program led by the fitness director ebenezer samuel. Epic Abs takes you through intense core workouts, during which you won’t be doing a single sit-up. Yes, you read that right: you can build Spartan abs without doing crunches.
“The idea is to challenge the abs to work the glutes (Top 30 Glute Exercises: Tone and Strengthen) and lower back as a unit,” says Samuel. “That gives us the six pack we want and also makes us stronger for everything else.”
Samuel’s workouts focus on total body movements that emphasize the abs and teach him to engage his core to stabilize your body while working full body movements. One of those movements is the hollow rock, as you probably already know, through which you can address all the functions of the core.
4 Core Features That Will Help You Build Epic Abs
Orthosis and Anti-Extension
“When done correctly with the lower six pack pressed firmly into the ground, legs extended, and arms extended overhead, you are teaching your spine not to arch, which is the definition of anti-extension,” he says. Samuel.
The longer the levers, the more difficult the movement becomes, but only extend it as far as you can with your lower back pressed into the ground. If your lower back rises up, adjust the levers on your arms and legs until it doesn’t. In the hollow rock position, the abdominals, obliques, intercostals, spinal extensors, really everything but the glutes, come together to stabilize and protect the spine. Also avoid back pain with these exercises.
In rotational movements, we rotate through a range of motion. Think about throwing a punch, swinging a baseball bat or golf club, or throwing a suitcase in the trunk. And as we do those movements, the core stabilizes the pelvis and spine.
From there, add a Russian twist, aggressively rolling your shoulders from side to side while keeping your hips square. “Acquire the position, then rotate your shoulders to alternately reach each elbow toward the ground without moving your hips,” Samuel says. “The more we move our shoulders while keeping our hips stable, the more we challenge our obliques (Top 20 Oblique Exercises for Men).
To keep the spine safe during twisting movements like the golf swing, we should be able to prevent rotation before it occurs. We resist rotation with our core.
To train our bodies to fight against rotation, extend into the hollow body position and hold the trunk to prevent it from leaning to the side. “The arm that’s out to the side is going to pull you to that side,” Samuel says. “Use your core to keep your hips and shoulders square.” Improve the movement by adding a hollow and keeping the hips and shoulders in line with the ceiling by stabilizing with the torso.
Spinal flexion bends at the waist. This is what we do in crunches and crunches, but a V-Up is a more effective way to strengthen the core. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, bend up and try to touch your toes before returning to the hollow rock position and hold for a second before moving on to the next rep. “Don’t lie down between reps,” Samuel says. “And think about smashing an insect into the ground with your lower back.”
Mastering this and its variations will protect your core from other movement patterns. Here are the best exercises for your abs and core.