The extreme abs program is a series of 6 exercises that has been created to incorporate the tried and tested methods that both power lifters and body builders use to build their incredible strength and physiques but for some reason do not apply to their abs training.
If you were to visit any gym anywhere in the world, it is still possible to see the majority of people training their abs with set after set of high repetition exercises despite the fact that they wouldn’t train any other muscle this way. For most people this is due to the mistaken belief that doing so will increase the size and strength of the muscles or burn the fat that hides them.
The universally accepted method for developing strength dictates that the repetitions for each set in an exercise should fall within the range of 1-6. For building a combination of strength and muscle the range is increased to 6-10 repetitions. Therefore, it goes without saying that doing abs exercises that are in the 30, 50 or even 100 repetition range cannot achieve this aim. In fact once you do this you are no longer building either strength or muscle but have moved on to developing endurance.
Furthermore, doing high rep sets to burn the fat around the waist or ‘spot reduce’ as it is known, is not possible because you cannot choose where the body will metabolise fat for energy. Instead, the body has a genetically programmed pattern by which it determines which adipose cells to access stored energy from.
So doing high rep sets does not provide enough resistance to build muscular size or strength and trying to remove fat from one particular area by exercising it is scientifically impossible. In addition, because the rectus abdominis and external oblique’s are predominantly fast twist muscles used for explosive tasks such as sprinting, jumping or twisting forcefully they are designed for low repetition exercise. However, when you do high repetition sets of crunches and sit ups they are being asked to also perform the role of slow twitch stabilisers and this is why it is quite common for high rep abdominal exercises to lead to lower back pain.
How to train the abs
Over the last 100 years every system of training has been experimented with and time and time again the results have shown that the best formula for building a combination of strength and muscle is to do 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises of 6-10 repetitions.
This method is what legendary body builders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane used 35 years ago and is still the method used by champions today.
For reasons best know to themselves most people ignore this fact with abs training and conclude that the accepted principles for building muscle and strength will not apply to them when it comes to exercising this particular muscle group. This is a flawed theory as building strong muscular abs requires exactly the same methodology as other muscle groups and therefore you need to train them using the same 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises of 6-10 repetitions.
The high repetition way of training the stomach is in part explained by the fact that most abs exercises rely on your bodyweight to provide the resistance and with abs isolation exercises you are either sitting or lying down when you do them.
The result of this is you use only a small percentage of your bodyweight, the exercises soon become too easy and you end up doing the high repetition sets that we know should be avoided.
The extreme abs program prevents this by changing from basic isolation exercises to compound ones which require you to support far more of your bodyweight and are therefore far more difficult to execute. Each of the 6 exercises also has a series of progressions which begin at a foundation level and progress to versions that most people would find impossible to do unless they have trained specifically to do them.
An example of one of the 6 exercises that makes up the extreme abs program is the dragon flag. This demanding compound exercise has a system of progressions that begin with the
basic bent leg version
builds up to the full dragon flag
and then progresses even further to mastering the one arm dragon flag that can take months or perhaps years to achieve.
Therefore, by implementing this system with this exercise the extreme abs program ensures that you can always keep to the 6-10 repetitions per set that muscle and strength building dictates.
To build the strength needed to move from one progression of an exercise to another the extreme abs program also incorporates the same fundamental principles of adaptation, overload, progression and specificity that all tried and tested systems of improving physical performance use to ensure success.
The principal of adaptation is based on the human survival instinct. Just as all animals will adapt to their environment over many generations to increase the chances of species survival, so too will the individual human body try to prevent possible injury or damage by adapting to any physical activity that is demanding and performed on a regular basis. For the extreme abs program this means that each exercise progression will cause the body to increase in strength and muscle size to better cope with the demands that progression places on it. This in turn allows for further progress to take place.
This principal is what allows adaptation to take place. Unless the body is subjected to an ever increasing overload or (increased intensity) the body will not change as there is no reason to do so. For extreme abs training, the principal of overload means that once your body has adapted to an exercise progression you need to move onto the next progression in order to make further progress.
This principal refers to the rate at which the exercise overload is applied in order to cause body adaptation. To become as efficient as possible there is an optimum rate at which an exercise overload should be applied. If the rate it is too easy progress will be slow or stop altogether and if it is too difficult it is likely to result in injury and disappointment. For the extreme abs program this means that you need to be able to perform 10 reps of a progression using the correct technique before you move on to the next one. However, failure to move to the next progression will result in stagnate progress.
The principal of specificity means that to become good at something, you must practice it or to quote Bruce Lee; “In order to have powerful kicks, you must practice kicking”. Therefore, the best way to increase strength is to participate in activities that require it. This principal can be taken further to conclude that the closer the practise to the event, the better the results will be. For example; two sprinters could both practice running, but the one who practised short sprints would make better progress than the one who practised running long distances.
For the extreme abs program specificity means that practising basic isolation exercises such as crunches will not improve your ability in compound movements such as dragon flags. Nor will practising isolation exercises be particularly helpful in sport, as no sport requires only the abdominal muscles to contract, but instead require the participant to be able to bring several muscle groups into play at any given time.
Therefore, do not do hundreds of crunches in the hope of one day doing a dragon flag as this is a total waste of time and only a dragon flag progression or an exercise very similar will help with that aim.
So the next time you train your abs remember
Doing high repetition sets of isolation abs exercises in the hope of building strong muscular abs is fundamentally flawed as this type of training can only build endurance regardless of the muscle being exercised.
Trying to spot reduce the fat that hides the abs with high rep exercises will also not work as reducing the fat in this area can only be achieved by reducing the fat levels of the whole body by implementing a calorie deficit through correct diet and exercise. Furthermore research has shown that high rep sit ups and crunches can result in lower back pain for many people.
The extreme abs program uses the 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises 0f 6-10 repetitions method for the abs that generations of body builders have consistently shown to be the most successful way of building muscle and strength.
The extreme abs program includes 6 compound exercises and each exercise consists of a series of progressions starting with the basic version and building up to an advanced level which ensure that you can always keep the reps in the correct 6-10 range.