I had abs before they were cool. I had no idea how lucky I was, or why my dating prospects improved so dramatically as the weather warmed up. All I knew was that I was skinny and I wanted to be bigger. My wish came true soon enough; with a desk job and a workout program that consisted almost entirely of lifting heavy things, the weight was easy to put on. My abs disappeared, but I enjoyed the modest strength gains more than I missed the jagged contours.
Over time, the unholy alliance of word-processing software and an unbalanced workout program left me with a series of injuries that made sitting easier but lifting nearly impossible: My body was, literally, molding itself to hunch over a keyboard.
So I returned to my core. Instead of a few random sets of midbody exercises at the beginning or end of my workout, core training became the centerpiece of my program.
Meanwhile, Alwyn Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, was searching for solutions to the same dilemma as he designed his workouts. Cosgrove noticed that clients were coming to him in far worse shape than demographically identical clients were just a few years before. Their posture was distorted, thanks to years of working ever-longer hours with ever-smaller technology. Even the clients who were "fit" often displayed unbalanced fitness: The strong ones lacked endurance, the ones with good endurance lacked strength, and most of them struggled with injuries related to training for one goal at the expense of all others.
The solution, Cosgrove discovered, was to spend less time in the weight room and more time on mobility, conditioning, and core training. Especially core training. You'd think that less time with the iron would mean a softer body and weaker muscles. But that's not what happened—not to me, and not to Cosgrove's clients. The focus on core training not only helped me recover from my injuries but also left me leaner and more athletic than I'd felt in a long time.
Cosgrove's new training approach, and my success with it, led us to write our newest book, The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. Read on to learn the top body-changing benefits you'll achieve using our core-centric approach. Then follow Cosgrove's training plan for ultimate abs, featured on this month's workout poster, and see your six-pack emerge.
Burn Fat Without Moving
Ab training is easy; core training is hard. An exercise like the crunch works a tiny amount of muscle through a minuscule range of motion. Core training works your abdominal muscles along with your lower back and draws in your glutes, hamstrings, and everything in between. Even your lats are involved; the connective tissue at the bottom of your lats play a crucial role in stabilizing your spine and helping transfer force between the muscles in your upper and lower body when you row, climb, or pull.
Training that much muscle at once burns a lot of calories, even if you're not moving.
Here's an example: Assume a pushup position, with your arms straight. Lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously, and hold that position. Concentrate on keeping your body still—don't let your hips drop or your torso rotate. Keep holding. A little longer. Wait... okay, you lost it. No problem. Just repeat by lifting your left arm and right leg. And hold that.
Unless you're a recreational acrobat, you're probably sweating, shaking, and wheezing like an asthmatic at a Snoop Dogg concert. Train like that for 10 minutes each time you go to the gym, and it's hard not to get lean.