ABCs of ABS – 9 Easy Rules For A Hardcore Ab-Training Program

ABCs of ABS – 9 Easy Rules For A Hardcore Ab-Training Program
By Vince Del Monte

Here’s some simple advice:

When you train your abs – kill them.

You’ll never get ripped-up and deep-cut abs relying on squats and deadlifts to “strengthen your core.”

And when I say kill your abs I mean kill your abs. For the final four weeks before my show I would train my abs for at least thirty minutes before I even started my weight training routine and I would do that at least six times a week.  I trained them when they were sore, I trained them when they were fried, I trained them when I felt they needed a rest.

I went against all convention and ended up with the best set of abs of my life.  Not only were my upper and lower abs popping but my external obliques and snakes looked shredded.

You don’t get abs like this relying on “heavy lifting to strengthen your core” and it wasn’t until I started doing HUNDREDS of reps with short rest periods and a variety of resistance that my abs started to pop.  

You gotta kill your abs! Every shredded fitness model knows this because it’s the common denominator between the world’s top pro fitness models.  You’ll see some guys with smaller legs or a smaller chest but you’ll never see a pro fitness model without shredded abs. It’s the common denominator you must master.

9 Easy Rules For A Hard-Core Training Program

1.  The Ideal Rest Period Between Exercises: Short and I mean very short.  Never rest longer than 15 seconds between exercises.  Abs are considered postural muscles, used primarily to keep you standing upright.  That’s why they recover so much more quickly than other muscle groups.  That allows you to keep the rest periods between exercises short – no more than 15 seconds.  The bonus of this is that you burn more calories which leads to accelerated fat burning to showcase your hard work sooner.

2. The Ideal Rest Period Between Sets: One minute or less.  Just enough to let your heart rate come back into a “talking zone” and then kill em again.

3. How To Structure Your Hardcore Ab Program: Use giant sets (three or four exercises for the same muscle group performed without resting between sets) are the best way to boost intensity, which means more fat burning and less overall gym time.   Over the course of the week I’ll rotate between two different series of giant sets.  Too much variety is not good and can backfire on you. It’s critical that you get stronger and last longer with each exercise.

4. The Optimal Training Frequency For Abs: At least six times a week. If you’re not there yet, scale up.  You’re never going to have razor sharp abs hitting them three or four times a week.  Come on, use some common sense. If three or four times a week was optimal than you wouldn’t be reading this because I bet that’s what you’ve already doing. Stop being lazy and stop making excuses for why you should not train them more frequently.  Some people say that abs need 48 hours to recover and I believe that’s applies to beginners only.  Train them every day and rotate between different exercises every other day.

5. The Best Rep Range For Abs: It should vary, just like every other muscle group.  For resistance style exercises I start with lower reps and scale up to higher reps.  With bodyweight style exercises I start with higher reps and scale down to lower reps by adding resistance.  Abs is a muscle group I rarely count reps on.  Depending on the exercise it’ll range from 8-10 reps, 10-20 reps, 20-30 reps and some sets I do 50-100 reps.  Stop being afraid of big numbers.

6. The Optimal Speed For Abs: I like to alternate between slow and controlled and fast and explosive.  Often times I start most exercises off with a slow and controlled tempo and then pick it up with momentum to squeeze out extra reps near the end.  To recruit the most muscle fibers in your abs and obliques it’s important to vary the movement speed.

7. A Typical Ab Workout Should Look Like This: Lower abs, obliques, upper abs and core.  Lower abs and obliques are often the weakest and least developed so start every workout while they are fresh and strong.  I don’t do a lot of core exercises but you can include them at the end.

8. Customize Your Ab Routine: It’s okay to break the rules when it comes to ab training. I learned this from my good friend Brock Aksoy who won the WBFF Fitness Atlantic Championships and became a WBFF Pro too.  We’re training partners and getting ready for the World’s together. Brock is big on customizing the routine to your physique. For example, if your obliques are invisible then do two exercises for that area.  For example, to bring up your obliques your ab routine might go like this: obliques, obliques, lower abs, upper abs, core.

9. Each Giant Set Should Be Balanced: If you don’t need custom-carved abs than be sure to include at least one exercise for every part of your abdominal region.  In a typical giant set you should have a lower ab, oblique and upper ab exercise.

Here is a sample workout with all the rules applied:

Hanging leg raises  3 sets of failure
Standing cable crunches 3 sets of 20-30
Cable oblique crunches  3 sets of 10-20
Planks off stability ball  3 sets of 2 minutes or longer

Got questions about designing a hardcore ab-training program?  Ask below!

Vince Del Monte

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10 Responses to “ABCs of ABS – 9 Easy Rules For A Hardcore Ab-Training Program”

  1. Lucky

    Hmm I got abs but I rarely did them more than 3 times a week, don’t see why you should KILL them every day??? They’re not a super muscle, they’re a muscle just like any other muscle….if I killed legs every day there’s no way I would be able to walk and abs hold your upper body straight, you could injure your back during DL’s if your abs are already trashed since the core is what stabilizes you.

  2. Alexandre

    Vince, good advice. I’ll start to train more frequently.

    But can you tell me some good obliques exercise that works more the “lower obliques”? The ones near the hips. I see more definition on my “upper obliques”, near my ribs.

    Can you give me some help bro?


  3. Brock Aksoy

    Hey Guys,
    Brock here! Thanks for the shout out in this Article Vince.

    I’d be more than happy to help try and answer your questions. Let me know if you all have specific questions about targeting a specific part of the abdominal muscles. You guys can also click “like” on my fan page and post questions there as well.!/pages/Brock-Aksoy-Fan-Page/180365338682156

  4. Mitchell

    @Vince@Vince – Right now I’m planning to come alone, but I’ll def see if I can get a friend of mine to tag along. I’ll be coming from Philadelphia. Looking forward to finally meeting you and the rest of the gang…you’ve been a part of my world since ’06 and have quite literally changed my life.


  5. ken

    I sometimes have problems with what you say. You talk in technical terms that
    I don’t understand. For instance when you say “lower abs then obliques, then
    upper abs, the core.” What is “core”? I thought we just discussed that. Then
    the final exercise: planks off a stability ball. What the heck is that? I don’t have
    any exercise ball, since I heard of one breaking.

  6. Vince

    @Ross. The logic behind doing your abs last is because you don’t want to fatigue your “core muscles” that stabilize your body while you’re doing your big laughs.

    But if abs are you weakest and lagging body part does it make sense to do them while they are fresh or fatigued? I train them first when they are fresh and strong so they see more improvement.

    There are always two coins to every argument and if abs are your priority, make them your priority by going first.

  7. Vince

    @Kimmy. Check out my wife’s site. She’ll take care of you :)

    Reply She’ll take care of you :)’); return false;”>Quote

  8. Vince

    @Robert. If your pecs are lagging, start doing 200 pushups EVERY morning. Take Sunday off. You can do variations of the pushups… close grip, wide grip.. I don’t care… off your knees… just get 200 pushups in..I don’t care how long it takes you to do. Just do it. As soon as you wake up, 200 pushups EVERY single morning until your pecs look the way you want them. 200 pushups EVERY morning. That’s it. Don’t change anything else in your program.

  9. Vince

    @Rocky. Just do it the way I showed you in the post.

  10. Vince

    @Ryan. Insanity and P90X are great… if they promise of their program is in alignment with your goals.