Shock your muscles into delivering a solid six-pack
Your hard-core training plan
First a warning: this is an abs workout that won't have you doubled up for days after. It focuses on spinal stabilisation instead of isolating your abdominals. But that doesn't mean they're not working. "In fact, after using this method, my clients are seeing faster progress than ever," says Alwyn Cosgrove the programme's designer and author of The New Rules Of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle (Avery). "This workout will make your core strong and stable." Find your training level and do this workout twice a week. You'll be as surprised as your muscles by the results.
Beginner (0-3 months)
Exercise 1. Plank on elbows
Assume a press-up position, but with your elbows bent and your weight resting on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Now brace your abs as if someone were about to punch you in the gut. Hold for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds and repeat once.
Exercise 2. Mountain climber with hands on bench
In a press-up position with your hands on a bench, brace your abs and slowly lift your left knee toward your chest. Pause for 2 seconds and then raise your right knee. Alternate for 30 seconds, rest 30, and repeat once.
Exercise 3. Side plank
Lie on your left side and prop your upper body up on your left forearm. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from ankles to shoulders. Now brace your abs and hold for 30 seconds. Roll over onto your right side and repeat. Rest 30 seconds, and do 1 more set.
Intermediate (1 year)
Exercise 1. Plank with feet elevated
Use the guidelines for the beginner version of the exercise (above), but place both of your feet on a bench.
Exercise 2. Mountain climber with hands on Swiss ball
Follow the beginner instructions, but place your hands on a Swiss ball instead of a bench.
Exercise 3. Side plank with feet elevated
Do this the same way as the beginner version, but with both of your feet on a bench.
Advanced (+2 years)
Exercise 1. Extended plank
Do the beginner version but place your weight on your hands, which should be positioned about 15-20cm in front of your shoulders.
Exercise 2. Swiss ball jack-knife
In the press-up position with your feet on a Swiss ball, raise your hips and pull the ball forward. Do 2 sets of 15 reps, with 30 seconds of rest.
Exercise 3. Single leg side plank
Do the beginner version, but once you're in position, raise your top leg and keep it raised for the duration of the set.