[WOTM, 06/2014] Tear Your Core Inside Out With The Superset Circuit Abs Workout
HERE. WE. GO. 2 rounds, 4 hyperfast supersets, zero rest — absolute abdominal incineration.
Mentally prepare yourself for one of the most intense ab workout gauntlets we’ve ever concocted. It’s about to contort your conception of core training and push your midsection to places it’s never even fathomed. The abdominal burn will feel like a shower of pure napalm and your abs will feel like they were hit with a wrecking ball (not Miley’s), but you’ll be rewarded with a turbocharged metabolism, sweat streams galore, and an explosion of aesthetic new core growth.
The Superset Circuit Core Workout is a unique routine built from 4 distinct multi-exercise supersets, or “pillars,” each comprised of 3-5 killer exercises circuited back-to-back (supersets = no rest). Every superset is designed to demolish a specific section of the abs, and when chained together, to carve out a picturesque, well-rounded, rippled core. In aggregate, it blasts the rectus abdominis (the upper abs or six-pack muscles), lower abs, obliques, and transverse abdominis (the inner abs).
Here’s what you’re getting yourself into:
- 1. The Swiss Ball Ab Shredder — Leverages 4 Swiss ball exercises to smash the upper abs and rectus abdominis, and chisel out visible six-pack definition.
- 2. The Lower Ab Trifecta (LAT) — Combines 3 lower ab exercises to flatten the bottom half of the core and carve out a plunging V-cut.
- 3. The Plank Power Progression — Uses 5 plank-based exercises to steamroll, tighten, and compress the entire core. Planks beat up the transverse abdominis, which sucks the midsection in like a vacuum.
- 4. The Oblique Obliterator — Attacks the obliques and serratus, the finger-like muscles running along the sides of your upper abs, with 3 different exercises to create deep, zig-zagging cuts and phenomenal definition.
It’s going to hurt, it’s going to burn like 1000 hells, and you will manufacture sweat like a faucet. But persist. The rewards are rather lucrative.
The Superset Circuit Abs Workout
Image: Women’s Health and Fitness
Here are the rules to complete the Superset Circuit Abs Workout like a pro:
- Do each superset without rest. To the best of your ability, move from one exercise to another without stopping.
- Take 1-2 minutes of rest in between each superset.
- Complete 2 rounds. That means do all 4 supersets, and then do it again.
- Do the workout 2-3x per week, with at least one day off in between ab workouts.
The workout is designed to be incredibly difficult. Do your best to complete it as intended, but I fully expect that you won’t get through it. As with any of our workouts, tailor it to your own individual level of fitness. Reduce the # of reps, increase the rest time, or nix round 2 — the goal is always to push yourself, progress over time, and do it with style.
And conversely, if you’ve got an irrationally strong core and can tear it up, add weights and/or up the reps. Or go back for round 3.
*Click on each applicable exercise name for a full pop-out video demo.
1. The Swiss Ball Ab Shredder
Protocol: 2 rounds — 15 + 12 + 10/side + 12.
Target Muscle(s): Rectus Abdominis (the upper abs, aka six-pack muscles)
- (1) Swiss Ball Crunches, 15 reps — Rest the middle of your back on a Swiss ball. Crunch all the way up, hold the squeeze for 1s, and hyperextend over the top of the ball on the way down. Do 15 reps.
- (2) Swiss Ball Rollouts, 12 reps — Stand on your knees and place your wrists on a ball. Slowly roll the ball out and let your arms glide over it, until your body is completely straight. Contract your core and return back up to start. Repeat for 12 reps.
- (3) Swiss Ball Side Crunches, 10/side — Lie sideways on a ball and anchor your feet firmly against a wall or weight. Fall all the way over the ball and crunch back up to start. Hold the squeeze for 1s. Repeat 10 reps for both sides.
- (4) Swiss Ball Overhead Crunches, 12 reps — Extend your arms out overhead. Bend all the way back and powerfully crunch up to the sky. Keep your arms long at all times. Complete 12 total reps.
2. The Lower Abs Trifecta (LAT)
Protocol: 2 rounds — 12 + 12 + 30 seconds
Target Muscle(s): Lower Abs
- (1) Ab Pulse Ups, 12 reps — Lie on a flat bench or on the floor. Raise your legs up, contract your lower abs, and thrust your feet straight into the air. Your butt should come off the floor. Tap down and repeat for 12 reps.
- (2) Ab Reverse Crunches, 12 reps — Bend your knees, contract your lower abs, and pull your knees up into your chest. Complete 12 reps.
- (3) Ab V Holds, 30 seconds — Lie flat on the ground or a bench and raise your legs up to 45º. Raise your torso so that your body forms a V. Hold it for 30 seconds.
3. The Plank Power Progression
Protocol: 2 rounds — 30 seconds + 10/side + 10/leg + 20 seconds/side + 10/side
Target Muscle(s): Transverse Abdominis
- (1) Plank, 30 seconds — Do a traditional flat plank. Keep your core tight and back straight. Hold it for 30 seconds.
- (2) Side Plank Knee Tucks, 10/side — Roll over onto your side and prop your body up on your elbow. Bring your bottom knee into your waist and squeeze the contraction. Repeat 10 reps per side.
- (3) Plank Leg Raise, 10/leg — Roll back over into plank position. Kick your right leg into the air and hold it for 1s. Repeat 10 reps per side.
- (4) Elevated Side Plank, 20 seconds/side — Extend into an elevated side plank position, with your right hand firmly on the floor. Throw your left arm into the air and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat for the opposite side.
- (5) Plank Arm Reach, 10/side — One more. Roll back over into plank position. While keeping your body flat, stretch your right arm out in front of you as far as possible. Hold it for 1s and return back to the ground. Repeat 10 reps per side.
4. The Oblique Obliterator
Protocol: 2 rounds — 12/side + 30 + 12/side
Target Muscle(s): Lower Abs
- (1) Cable High Woodchoppers, 12/side — Connect a cable as high as possible. Maintain strong posture and pull the handle diagonally downward across your body, contracting your obliques and abs in the process. It should feel like you’re chopping wood. Repeat 12 reps per side.
- (2) Mason Twists, 30 reps — Balance on your butt with your back flat and feet raised. Vigorously twist from side to side, tapping the ball/weight against the floor. Each tap counts as 1 rep. Complete 30 total.
- (3) Elevated Knee Tucks, 12/side — Get into push up position. Keep your left leg straight, pull your right knee into your chest, and crunch your oblique into it at the top. You should feel a massive squeeze. Repeat 12 reps per side.
…and then run it back for round 2.
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto.
I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP
, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid
, and all-around fitness junkie.
I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine
When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses
and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
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