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ATHLETE Leo Burke WORKOUT Eric Velazquez IMAGES Dallas Olsen

Great abdominal detail is determined by genetics and then defined in the kitchen, right? Maybe there is some truth to that statement. However, no one is going to rip themselves a set of herculean abs with that kind of defeatist attitude. We all have a genetic threshold; the challenge is putting in the hard yards to achieve it. With our six-week program you can begin to uncover the midsection you’ve been craving for years. We’ve thrown out the usual suspects (goodbye, crunches) and advocate a fail-proof training tool: resistance. As each week gets progressively harder, you’ll give your abs the impetus for change and develop that drum-tight detail you so covet.

Maybe you’re abs are already in amazing shape. In fact, maybe they’re just downright flawless. Congratulations. Now it’s time to take it to an entirely different level. Even the most conditioned mid-section will evolve through this program. But if stronger, perfectly polished abs are what you’re chasing, you’ll need to stick it out to week six.


Select a weight on the resistance exercises that allows you to reach failure by the target rep.

> No more than 60 seconds rest between sets or exercises.

> If you’re able to complete more than the recommended number of reps in your first set, use the “Level Up” tips provided

> If you’re falling short of the recommended rep range, scale the exercise down by reducing the weight of slightly shortening the range of motion

> Workout should be performed twice a week, with at least 72 hours recovery in between.



Set-up: Hang from a chin-up bar with both arms extended using either a wide grip or a medium grip. The legs should be straight down with the pelvis rolled slightly backwards.

Action: Slowly raise both feet until your legs are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you perform this movement and hold for as long as possible at the top of each rep. Keep the movement controlled as you lower back to starting position.

Level-up: Place a small dumbbell in between your ankles for added resistance or increase the range of motion by performing ‘toes-to-bar’.




Set-up: Attach a rope handle to a high pulley and then kneel down facing the weight stack, with your knees shoulder-width apart. Split the rope handles and hold beside your head; your arms will remain locked in this position for the entire movement.

Action: Draw your elbows towards your knees as you crunch down. Hold the contraction for a count and then return slowly to starting position. Ensure you don’t sit back here.

Level-up: Once you can achieve 10 controlled reps, add another 5kg at a time until you reach failure within the recommended rep range.




Set-up: Get into a push-up position with your forearms on the floor. Make sure your body is straight from your heels to the top of your head – don’t sag, pike at the hips or drop your head.

Action: Pull your abs in tight, hollowing out your lower abs without changing your body position. Control the position using the strength of your core and hold for 60 seconds.

Level-up: If you can hold your plank for longer than 60 seconds, have a training partner place a weight plate across your lower-middle back for all sets.




Set-up: With your feet hip-width apart, stand straight and hold a dumbbell at your side in one hand only. The opposite free hand should be hanging straight down.

Action: Using your obliques, bend your waist explosively away from the dumbbell, exhaling as you do so. Slowly return to starting position before bending in the opposite direction, towards the dumbbell.

Level-up: Stay within the recommended rep range by adding resistance as you improve.




Set-up: Sit on a decline bench with your legs positioned securely. Grasp the weight plate with your hands and hold it just out from your torso in front of your chest. Head should be straight and eyes focused forward.

Action: Keeping your arms locked in position, lower your body just short of your shoulder blades touching the bench. Then perform a crunch to lift yourself back the upright position.

Level-up: Increase the angle of your bench, hold the weight plate over your head, and/or use a heavier weight.




Set-up: Sit on a decline bench with your legs positioned securely. Grasp the weight plate with your hands and hold it just out from your torso in front of your chest. Head should be straight and eyes focused forward.

Action: Keeping your arms locked in position; twist your torso to one side until your arms are almost parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a count before returning to the middle and twisting to the opposite side. This is one rep.

Level-up: Increase the angle of your bench and/or use a heavier weight.




Set-up: Using a D-handle on the high pulley, stand straight next to the machine with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Grip the D-handle with both hands above your right shoulder. Knees are unlocked.

Action: Holding your core tight, powerfully bring the weight down across your torso, until it reaches just outside your left knee. Remain controlled as you reverse back to starting position.

Level-up: Use an extended negative (7-10 seconds) to fully return the weight back to starting position. This will recruit more total fibres throughout your obliques.




Set-up: On a flat bench, lie face-up and grab the top of the bench over your head with both hands. Extend your legs straight out in front of you.

Action: Inhale as you raise your body upwards, lifting your legs and back off the bench so only your shoulders, neck and head remain in contact. Your body should be tight and straight. Lower yourself down slowly until you are just a few centimetres off the bench – this will give you those Rocky-like abs!

Level-Up: Perform the same move, only on a decline, with your head placed at the higher end of the bench.




Set-up: Take an overhand grip of the pull-up bar and raise your ankles to eye level, or above, to create a ‘v’ shape with your body. Novice gym-goers can do these by lying on the floor, with your arms by your sides roughly 30cm from the body, and lift your legs straight up into the air (a slight bend at the knee is optional).

Action: Slowly begin to rotate at the hips and lower your legs from one side of your body to another, keeping a roughly 90-degree angle at the hips. Your legs should come as close to parallel to the floor as possible, and the torso should remain still throughout the movement.

Level-Up: As you progress with this movement, attempt to increase your range of movement through the obliques by taking your legs closer to parallel with each rep.


BARBELL AB ROLL (not pictured)


Set-up: Load a barbell with large bumper plates (ideally 10kg each side) and set it down on a smooth surface – not carpet. Standing with the barbell in front of you, bend at the waist and grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip.

Action: Roll the bar forward until your arms are fully extended out in front of you and your body is almost parallel to the floor. To return to the starting position, drive your hips up towards the ceiling and contract your abs.

Level-Up: Use larger weights to increase the resistance needed to reverse the movement.

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