Craig Capurso's Ultimate Abs Workout
To build your ultimate abs, you've got to double down with a routine that makes your core cry. Here's how Craig Capurso does it.
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When it comes to building your ultimate physique, some heavy lifting is probably essential. When it comes to building eye-popping abs at the center of that physique, Cellucor athlete Craig Capurso says heavy lifting is no substitute for direct core work. All of those heavy standing movements—the deadlifts, bent-over rows, and military presses—do work your abs, but they do it mostly isometrically. Capurso says that to build your abs you've got to do targeted exercises that actively shorten and lengthen your ab muscles. Think about it: You wouldn't expect to build world-class biceps just by flexing them isometrically, would you?
Capurso recommends training abs largely in the classic hypertrophy-focused 8-12 rep range. But that's definitely not all he does. In his routine, he also subjects his core to "combination Tabata" pairings that have you alternating two movements for four of the most grueling minutes you'll ever experience.
If you need to accelerate your progress to a gleaming six-pack, look no further. Capurso says that his Ultimate Abs Workout is intense enough that you only need to do it once a week. But if you're really jonesing for a summer washboard, he's giving the green light to do it twice a week.
Craig Capurso Ultimate Abs
Watch the video: 04:00
Standing Cable Crunch (shown kneeling)4 sets of 12 reps, 1 min. rest
Superset: 8 rounds
Superset: 8 rounds
Superset: 8 rounds
Slalom Twist4 sets of 12 reps
Craig's Technique Keys
Standing cable crunch
Watch Capurso's little finger as he demonstrates proper form. The point of his demo is to make it clear you have to crunch and bend at the hips to make this movement work. This is not a straight-arm pull-down or some kind of reverse deadlift here! Your hips shouldn't move, and your legs shouldn't move. The only thing that should move is your upper body. Use a weight that's 60-70 percent of your 1RM (hard to calculate on this move, granted) and keep it on for all 12 reps. It should be heavy, but not so heavy you can't do all 12.
Standing Cable Crunch
You know how to do this. Get in a prone position on the floor, supporting your weight with your toes and palms. Make sure your palms are directly under your shoulders for maximum stability. Keep your body straight, making sure not to sag at your hips. You'll only be doing it for 20 seconds, so if it seems too easy, focus on really contracting your abs to make it more difficult.
Some people like to grab their head when they do crunches, but this can lead to neck strain. Hold your hands near your head, but don't grab on. Breath out as you bring your elbow to the opposite knee. Breath in as you switch to the other side.
There are a few ways to do this. Craig favors the seat of a rowing machine. If you don't have a rowing machine handy, you can put your feet on an exercise ball. That may sound easier, but it's not. No matter how you perform it, focus on sucking your belly button in toward your backbone and isometrically squeezing your abs as you come to the top.
This movement is all about the obliques. Make them work hard, but keep your spinal integrity while you do it. Raise the bar to shoulder height with both hands, with your arms extended in front of you. Keep your arms straight, and both resist the bar on the way down and move it with your obliques on the way up. Both parts are equally essential.
Pay attention to how you engage your core to do this exercise. Bring the ball up and behind your head, stretching your abs at the top. Then bring it forward and slam it down hard on the floor, curling forward at the spine. This exercise is effective when you really engage your core as you smack the ball down on the floor.
Toes to bar
The key to a good toes to bar is knowing how to bring your hips up underneath. He maintains that most people use a leg raise that involves way too much hip flexor and not enough core. Instead, make sure you tilt your pelvis, bringing your pubis bone into your bellybutton to make sure you're targeting the lower abs.
Slalom twist/oblique twist
For the slalom, keep your upper body straight—even if you have to hang on to something, like Craig does. The goal is to keep your upper body still while your hips rotate fully. The oblique twist is the exact opposite of the slalom twist: Keep your hips and lower body still, and get good rotation out of your upper body with the help of the weight.