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Hard 'Core' ABS - A Ripped Midsection For 2006!

Want that ripped midsection or a six pack for 2006? Strengthen your core, and shred those abdominals fast with the right nutrition, science, and this unique 3 day Abdominal Split Routine. Try it out!

Physical beauty has been described as the absolute average of everyone. If we were to reduce everybody's visual traits to simple numbers, and then those numbers were converted back to a human form, this average would constitute ideal human beauty.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Jaime Girard Competing.

Evolutionary biology states that it is innate for us to be attracted to a certain measure of human. An attractive individual is perceived by the subconscious mind as having good genetics for reproducing. Good genetics equals a good mate.

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A smaller waist on a woman suggests, to the male mind, greater fertility. To a woman, a man with larger shoulders and a smaller waist meant a good provider.

Although these are primitive ways to look at one another, we still do it... and some times for more superficial reasons. Looking good is something we all want, and one of the classic signs of a well-conditioned physique is a lean, cut midsection.

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Variations in body shape are dictated by genetics, distribution of fat and muscle, and the size and precise shape of the bones. Although genetics cannot be completely overcome, it is only by a small margin. The first key to developing a chiseled abdominal region is to realize that in reality you will never see your ab muscles unless you get rid of the layer of fat that lies across them, covering up all of your hard work.

There is an apron-like sheet in the thoracic cavity of the body, covering the entire abdominal area, called the Greater Omentum, its only purpose is to store fat, and that it does. It acts like a thick carpet covering up the separation and lines of a nice tight midsection.

Reducing overall body fat percentage will reduce the amount of fat covering the abdominal muscles and then they become more visible. Developing them further, through precise training and consistency will provide the sought-after rock hard belly. But it is not just aesthetics that we look for when training the core and abdominals.

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Complete Core Conditioning

Complete conditioning requires complete training of all the muscles in the abdominal and lower back (erector spinae) region, this is known as core training. We want to train the body to use our core muscles as its support and solid foundation and then correct and strengthen these muscles in order to do this job efficiently for us.

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It is known that our bodies adapt to the stresses put upon them. This is true for good and bad stresses. If we continually sit or stand incorrectly, our bodies will adapt and do this as if we are supposed to sit or stand incorrectly. In the long term this causes the actual muscles we are suppose to be using to atrophy and become even less able to do their intended job.

What Is Atrophy?
Atrophy is a decrease in size of an organ or muscle from its fully developed normal size, caused by disease or lack of use. Disuse atrophy of muscles and bones (with accompanying loss of mass and strength), can occur after prolonged immobility, such as extended bedrest.

Temporary atrophy may occur in muscles that are not used, as when a limb is encased in a plaster cast. This type of atrophy can usually be reversed with exercise.

The abdominals are a very common area where people tend to be very weak. This causes a great increase in the risk of lower back injury as the abdominals support the spine and surrounding structures. Weak erector spinae (lower back) muscles can cause the back to become hyperextended more oft than usual, and even more so when abdominal muscles are weak also.

The abdominal muscles will tilt the pelvis forward to improve the mechanical positioning of erector spinae, specifically when the lumbar spine becomes straight.

Erector Spinae
Click To Enlarge.
Erector Spinae.
1. Iliocastalis (orange)
  • Lumborum
  • Thoracis
  • Cervicis
  • 2. Longissimus (red)
  • Thoracis
  • Cervicis
  • Capitis
  • 3. Spinalis (purple)
  • Thoracis
  • Cervicis
  • Capitis
  • When abdominal strength and endurance is not sufficient to counter the pull of the antagonist erector spinae under this load of weight, these lower back muscles are then at a mechanical disadvantage - further placing stresses on these same lower back muscles. Iliopsoas can pull on the spine during hip flexor activities if abdominal muscles are weak. This is compounded if the hip flexors are also weak.

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    Weak abdominals and erector muscles can also impair the ability to do other important exercises in the weight room - such as squats, deadlifts, standing military press, barbell rows, and full extension lying leg raises.

    Postural Deviations

    The abdominal/core region consists of several muscles interacting together as a sort of girdle and support for the entire body. When these are weak, certain postural deviations are visually apparent.


      This is a condition where the pelvis is positioned forward and tilted slightly downward. The hips are flexed and lumbar spine is excessively hyperextended; hip flexors, and erector spinae are shortened and tight. This causes an increased risk of injury with standing or lying hip extension and flexion and stabilization exercises.

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    Posterior Pelvic Tilt

      This is sometimes referred to as a 'flat back'. Posterior pelvic tilt involves the reduction of the natural curvature of the lumbar spine. This is thought to be caused by tight abdominals and lax hip flexors. This is less common than the aforementioned lordosis.

      These postural deviations, as well as the overall discomfort and weakness caused by unconditioned core and abdominal muscles, can be overcome in a relatively short amount of time with well-disciplined consistency with the program I am about to outline.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    BiologyBabe Hittin' The Iron.


    For starters, let's look at the actual anatomy of the abdominal/core muscles that we will be working to condition.

    Anatomy Of The Abdominals
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Anatomy Of The Abdominals.

    Abdominal And Core Muscle Anatomy.
    Muscle Origin (Where Does It Start) Insertion (Where Does It End) Primary Functions
    Rectus abdominis Pubic crest Cartilage of fifth through seventh ribs and xiphoid process Flexion and lateral flexion of trunk
    External oblique Anteriolateral borders of lower eight ribs Anterior half of ilium, pubic crest, and anterior fascia Lateral flexion of the trunk
    Internal oblique Iliac crest Cartilage of last three to four ribs Lateral flexion of the trunk
    Transverse abdominis Iliac crest, lumbar fascia, and cartilages of last six ribs Xiphoid process of sternum, anterior fascia, and pubis Compresses abdomen
    Erector spinae Posterior iliac crest and sacrum Angles of ribs, transverse processes of all ribs   -

    Abdominal/Core Exercises

    Although many exercises are referred to as being for the upper or lower abdominals, there really is no difference as it is one lone muscle, known as the rectus abdominis, this is the muscle that is most superficially visible, known as the '6-pack.'

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    It runs continually from the sternum to the pubic bone and does not separate into upper/lower portions. In this abdominal program, exercises will be referred to as being for the lower or upper rectus abdomonis.

    It is imperative that when performing moves for the lower rectus abdominis that perfect form is constantly maintained. It is true that exercises for this area are actually performed by function of the hip flexors, rather than the lower rectus abdominis - in most cases.

    However, when performed with absolute perfect form, discussed later, it is necessary for the entire core region to maintain a constant contraction, so I use it, teach it, and find exercises for this area to be very effective.

    Do You Use Perfect Form On Core Exercises?

    Yes - Essential!
    Not Sure.
    Nope - I Don't Think It Matters.
    Nope - I Know It Matters, But I'm Too Lazy.

    The upper rectus abdominis is the most often exercised, and usually the only one. Basic crunches are a staple and a favorite, but done at standard, only work the upper portion of rectus abdominis.

    Variation is the key here. The obliques (sides of the waist) are an important aspect of this area that is very often overlooked, and with that, undertrained.

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    Due to the fact that the erector spinae acts as the antagonist to all abdominal exercises, we will also be sure to condition this area as well, as it is needed to support the entire region and a part of complete conditioning.

    6-Week Training Split

    Here is how the split works: There are three days of continuous abdominal training, and one day of total abdominal rest; and then the cycle starts again. This should continue for 6 weeks and then the program changed to the advanced version (coming soon!) to prevent the muscle from adapting and no longer progressing.

    Each training day, a different area of the abdominals will be specifically worked; the next day a different area and so on and so forth.

    Ab Training Split Schedule.
    Timeframe Area To Be Worked
    Day 1 (of 3) Lower Rectus Abdominis/Hip Flexors/Core
    Day 2 (of 3) Upper/Total Rectus Abdominis/Core
    Day 3 (of 3) Internal/External Obliques/Core
    Day 4 (Rest)

    I have used this program for clients male and female, as well as myself before a competition. It is very, very effective in cutting the abdominals and greatly increasing the strength of the core muscles, and it also helps with balance and stability - another by product of core conditioning.

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    This cycle is repeated every three days, with the fourth day off, continually for the period of six weeks.

    Each set is to be performed to absolute failure. Training to failure is very effective in the induction of hypertrophy. Failure is defined as no longer being able to execute another repetition with good form. Nothing I hate worse than bad form, makes me cringe.

    Hypertrophy Vs. Hyperplasia
    Hypertrophy refers to an increase in muscle size, due to the enlargement of the size of the cells, as opposed to an increase in the number of cells (by cell division, a.k.a. Hyperplasia). Hypertrophy is most commonly seen in muscle that has been actively stimulated, the most well-known method being exercise.

    The abdominal/core muscles carry our bodyweight, often incorrectly, around everywhere, so training them to failure is essential. They are used to moving and flexing and won't change and morph with just a few crunches here and there.

    Please note that perfect form is absolutely essential, and will be described with each and every picture and exercise description. Any deviation from perfect form will result in less-than-optimal contraction of the target area, resulting in less-than-optimal results.

    You will find that with perfect form it is not possible to do nearly as many reps as one can do with poor form. This is okay! If, during your first few weeks, your sets are only 10 reps long, because you fail at 10 reps with perfect form - that is okay.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Will Find That Perfect Form.

    The goal is muscle failure. When the muscle fails, it then tries to repair and rebuild itself, and with proper feeding, we get new muscles. If the muscle fails, with perfect form, at 10 reps or 100 reps, either way the muscle failed, mission accomplished.

    Remember, each set of each exercise - to absolute failure.

    Hard 'Core' Abs - 3 Day Split
    The Program

    Remember these vital tips when performing this program.

    • Perform the following exercises exactly as described, being careful to pay close attention to form. Do each move in the same sequence in which the program is laid out.

    • When performing abdominal exercises it is important to exhale during the contraction (concentric phase) of the muscle, and inhale during the relaxation (negative/eccentric phase) of the muscle.

    • Always keep the space of your closed fist between your chin and your chest, look straight up at the ceiling when executing the moves, and never tuck the neck.

    • At the top (hard part/concentric) of each move, contract (squeeze) the muscle as hard as possible, hold one second, then release and continue.

    • Perform each move, slowly, in a very controlled manner. The slower the better to fully activate each and every muscle fiber.

    And now, without further ado... the program.

         1. Day One

      Goal: Lower Rectus Abdominis/Hip Flexors/Core Isolation

      • Reverse Trunk Curl
      • Straight Legged Hip Raise
      • Bench Knee Raises
      • Straight Legged Stability Ball Raise
      • Hanging Straight Leg/Bent Knee Raise

      Goal: Core Isolation (just finding & contracting our core to learn where it is)

      • Namaste Sit-Up & Hold

      Reverse Trunk Curl

        Lie on the floor on your back. Put your hands by your sides or behind your head with elbows flared and wide - with your feet up and your thighs perpendicular to the floor. They should not go down lower than this during the movement.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Reverse Trunk Curl.

        Using your lower abs, roll your pelvis backward to raise your hips off the floor - be sure that the tailbone has completely been raised off the floor. Your knees will now be over your chest. Return slowly to the starting position. You can use ankle weights to make it more difficult.

      Straight Leg Hip Raise

        Lie in a supine position, completely straighten legs, and flex the feet. With the hands behind the head and abdominals partially contracted, raise the entire lower body off the floor, as if you are going to step on the ceiling - and then lower the hips down again. Be sure to use the abdominals to contract and roll the hips up and off the matt.

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    Straight Leg Hip Raise.

      Seated Flat Bench Leg Raise

        Sit on the end of a flat bench. Place your hands behind your butt and grab the sides of the bench. Extend your legs straight out. Bend your knees slightly and raise your legs above your heart, contracting the midsection. Return to the starting position. Concentrate on working the abs. You can hold a light dumbbell between your feet for added resistance.

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    Seated Flat Bench Leg Raise.

      Supine Straight Leg Stability Ball Raise

        Lying flat on the floor, secure a medium-sized stability ball between the lower leg and feet. Place hands behind head with elbows flared, keeping the legs straight and partially contracting the abdominal muscles, slowly raise the legs off the floor, until a full contraction is felt in the abdominals, slowly lower (although not all the way) to the floor and repeat.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Supine Straight Leg Stability Ball Raise.

      Hanging Straight/Bent Leg Raise

        Hang from a bar with your legs straight down. Raise your legs by flexing your hips while flexing your knees until your hips are fully flexed. Continue to raise knees toward shoulders by flexing your waist. Do not swing and use momentum.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Hanging Straight/Bent Leg Raise.

        Go slow and concentrate on using your abs to pull your legs up. Return to the starting position. Repeat. You can place weight between your ankles for added resistance. You can also raise your knees to one side of your body to work the obliques.

      Namaste Sit-Up & Hold (Core Isolation)

        "Namaste: The Divine within me, salutes the Divine within you."

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Namaste Sit-Up & Hold.

        Lie on back with legs extended toward ceiling, feet flexed. Pull belly button toward spine and open legs into a wide V. Press palms together in front of chest at start, in a prayer position, slowly push palms towards legs, and raise them in a "scooping" motion while contracting the abs hard and lifting the shoulder blades off floor. Reach arms through legs. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

         2. Day Two

      Upper/Total Rectus Abdominis/Core Activation

      • Feet On Wall Crunch
      • Stability Ball Jackknife
      • Decline Crunch
      • Jackknife Sit-Up
      • Rope Crunch
      • Resistance Band/Ball Crunch

      Core Activation:

      • V-Sit And Hold

      Feet On Wall Crunch

        Lie flat on the floor, near a wall. Place both feet flat on the wall, with the calves parallel to the floor. Press the small of the back into the floor, hands behind the head, elbows flared. Maintain that space of a fist between the chin and the chest. Exhale as you lift the entire shoulder girdle off the floor, fully contracting the abs, slowly lower and repeat.

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    Feet On Wall Crunch.

      Stability Ball Jackknife

        Start in a push-up position and place your lower shins on top of the exercise ball. While keeping your back completely straight, pull your knees in toward your chest, allowing the ball to roll forward under your ankles. Exhale and squeeze your abs and then straighten your legs, rolling the ball back to the starting position.

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    Stability Ball Jackknife.

      Decline Crunch

        Using a decline bench, position yourself with your feet locked in at the top. Your upper body should be raised off the bench so that you have to contract your abs hard just to stay in place. Place your hands on each side of your head, or straight over your head. Don't lock your fingers!

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Decline Crunch.

        Raise your body slowly while you contract your abs. Hold and flex your abs, and then slowly lower your body back to the starting position. Don't lower your body all the way down to the bench! If you can, hold a weight plate across your chest for added resistance.

      Jackknife Sit-Up

        Lie on the floor on your back. Place your arms straight back behind your head. Bend at the waist while raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position. Lower arms and legs back to the starting position. Keep your elbows and knees locked! Exhale hard on the contraction of this move.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Jackknife Sit-Up.

      Stability Ball Resistance Band Crunch

        Using a stability ball made for your height, and a moderate intensity resistance band, find a stationary object in your gym or fitness center; wrap the resistance band around the stationary object (be sure it does not slide or move), position yourself onto the stability ball as if you were going to do crunches.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Stability Ball Resistance Band Crunch.

        Holding the resistance band at each side of the body, pull it taut and crunch forward, fully contracting the abdominal muscles, hold, and release. Repeat.

      Rope Crunch

        Kneel below a high pulley. Grasp cable rope attachment and place wrists against the head. Flex hips slightly and allow the weight to hyperextend the lower back. With the hips stationary, flex the waist so the elbows travel toward the middle of the thighs. Return and repeat. Exhale hard while pulling abs in towards spine.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Rope Crunch.

      V-Sit (Core Activation)

        Sit on the floor with your knees bent at a 45 degree angle, feet flat on the floor and hands out to sides, palms up. Sit as upright as possible by pulling your abdominals in and your shoulders back and away from your ears. Align your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips to achieve a neutral position through your spine.

    Click Image To Enlarge.

        Inhale, lift your chest and tuck your chin in slightly; as you exhale, lean back by straightening your arms (or simply lean back), straighten the legs and raise them up toes towards ceiling, forming a V shape with the body, holding those abs and core muscles tight, and while maintaining the neutral spine position. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release and repeat three times.

         3. Day Three

      Goal: Internal/External Obliques/Erector Spinae/Core Integration

      • Supine Drop Knee Oblique Crunch (Each Side)
      • Prone Swimmers (For Erectors)
      • Bridge To Side Pike (Core Integration)
      • Russian Twist On Stability Ball (Core Integration)

      Supine Drop Knee Oblique Crunch

        Lie flat on your back with your knees bent (placing your knees dropped to one side on the floor or resting on a bench). Place your hands behind your head, elbows flared. Roll your upper body straight up towards the ceiling until your shoulder blades fully leave the floor.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Supine Drop Knee Oblique Crunch.

        Concentrate on tensing the sides of your waist and holding contraction throughout the movement. Slowly lower to the starting position. After completing a full set of reps on the left side, switch to your other side and do the same thing.

      Prone Swimmers

        Lie prone on the floor, arms extended overhead palms down. Exhale and simultaneously raise the left arm and right leg and the head partially, looking straight ahead - hold for 5-10 breaths, and switch sides. Repeat three times per side.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Prone Swimmers.

      Push-Up To Side Balance (Core Integration)

        Start on floor in a push-up position. Lean to left and place left hand on floor under shoulder; extend right arm up towards ceiling. For beginners, straighten right leg out to right with foot on floor, resting on left knee for support.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Push-Up To Side Balance.

        For an added challenge, extend both legs to right, keeping knees of floor. Contract and hold the core muscles to keep body straight and in position. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Return to start; switch sides. Repeat three times per side.

      Russian Twist On Stability Ball

        With a medium to large stability ball, lie back placing the middle and upper back onto the ball, feet flat on the floor. Be sure the hips and butt are raised up forming a nice straight back. Place your palms together, straight up in the air. Your arms should be stretched completely out at a point just below your chin.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Russian Twist On Stability Ball.

        You may hold a weight in your hands for greater resistance. Exhale and slowly rotate your shoulders to the left side. Your hips should stay rigid and your palms should move a complete 90 degrees. Repeat this movement to the opposite side. Continue until failure.

      Namaskar Sit-Up (Core Isolation/Relaxation)

        "Namaskar: The Divine within me salutes the Divine within you (more respectful version for elders, or very dear friends)."

        Yes, it is the same move essentially as the Namaste sit-up. I like to begin and end the split with this move as it also means Hello and Goodbye. It is also an excellent way to relax. Breathe very slowly, and exhale deeply.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Namaskar Sit-Up.
    Program Model/Subject: Sid Bista; Denver, CO.

        Lie on back with legs extended toward ceiling, feet flexed. Pull belly button toward spine and open legs into a wide V. Press palms together in front of chest at start, in a prayer position, slowly push palms towards legs, and raise them in a "scooping" motion while contracting the abs hard and lifting the shoulder blades off floor. Reach arms through legs. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

         4. Day Four

      Rest. Rest should be worked into your program, if at all possible, to make this a total rest (recovery) day from all strength training.

      Drink at least one gallon (128 oz.) of water. The body needs this tremendously during active cellular repair and regeneration.


    I understand this program is quite labor intensive, but that is the line that is drawn between a flat stomach and washboard abs. Remember, diet is 80% of the equation and the key to letting your newly-hardened and cut abdominal muscles show through is to rid yourself of that layer of bodyfat covering this area. This can be accomplished through a clean diet.

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    A clean diet is free of processed foods and excess sodium and sugars. Full of fibrous carbohydrates, complex carbs (simple ones after that weight lifting), free of excess alcohol and other illicit substances and chalk full of complete proteins like lean meats (preferably not red, I don't eat it as a principal - I will eat buffalo), whey protein isolate, casein protein, egg white protein, and of course, the most important and key to all life - water.

    It is essential to drink (in ounces) at least half of your bodyweight (in pounds) - every day. Thus, if you are a 150 lb. man, than you need to drink, at the very, very least, 75 oz. of pure, clean water. This is if you are doing nothing, this is just to have efficient metabolic function.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Trust Me, This Program Works!

    I recommend drinking at least 128 oz. to 2 gallons water every single day. This aids in cellular turnover, muscle repair, body fat oxidation, decreased heart rate, and increased vascular flow. The essence of life is water, drink it!


    After six weeks, providing you have followed this program at least 95% to the letter, you will see and feel definitive results in the strength and visual condition of your abdominals. And remember - eat clean, drink up, and your new chiseled abs will be hard to miss. Remember, science can help to perfect the temple that is your body.

    If you have any questions, e-mail me at