4 Reasons Your Normal Ab Routine Sucks

Every time I go to the gym I cringe when I look over at the “Ab Mat” or “Ab Area”.  You know what I’m talking about.  That part of the gym that has the huge black vinyl gymnastics mat.

I’ve learned not to judge people’s routines because they may have a particular reason they’re doing something that I never know about.  But then there are times when I KNOW they’re doing it wrong…

Here’s a hint: I. NEVER. GO. TO. THE. MAT. I got my abs the same way I got my pecs, biceps, and quads…good old fashioned weights.

This is what a normal ab routine looks like:

Flutter Kicks: 3×30

Crunches: 3×20

Roman Knee Raise (or leg swings): 2×20

Bosu Ball Crunches: 2×20

Crunch Cross-overs: 3×16

Sit Ups: 4x Burn out

Well that was good for gym class, but here are the reasons an ab routine like that will never work to get you ripped abs.

  1. Lack of full ROM. I’m very big on resistance through a full range of motion.  That’s why I don’t generally recommend crunches past the beginner stage.  Your abs develop best, like any other muscle, when you work them through the full range of motion.  This allows the entire fiber to fatigue, and thus the full fiber has to repair itself and grow stronger/bigger.
  2. Very little resistance. Your body can provide great resistance when done from the right angle, such as hanging knee raises.  But these exercises just give you a “burn” without really fatiguing the muscle in a range that’s best for hypertrophy.
  3. All the exercises are from the same angle. In most of these exercises, your back is flat against an immovable object.  Your abs are designed to move you through every motion imaginable.  Why limit yourself to the mat and laying flat backed.  Work your abs from different angles and you’ll see better growth.
  4. Lack of oblique stimulation. Your oblique muscle runs along the side of your torso and is responsible for twisting the torso mainly.  Most ab routines that people do only use the “front abs” and not the “side abs”.  And if they do use the obliques, it’s incorrectly, as in Crunch Cross-overs.

So, a few takeaways here.  Check out my post on the best ab workout to see my version of what a true ab routine should look like to build maximum size.

You need to work your abs through a full range of motion.  That means you need to curl your torso fully and breath out.  Curling just the top or just the bottom isn’t enough.

Add some resistance.  True, the best range for building abs that I’ve seen is 15-20 reps.  But you must use the fundamental principle of muscle building which is Progressive Overload.  You can’t do that with only using your body.  Add some weight and you’ll experience a world of difference.

Come at your abs from different angles.  Use twisting motions, start on your back, start facing the ground, start on your knees, start standing, you get the picture.  I guarantee you that you’ll find muscle fibers you didn’t know existed.  The result will be a more full looking six pack.

Don’t leave your obliques out of the picture.  Most guys neglect this muscle because they don’t know how to train them properly.  However, if you strengthen them, they’ll set you apart from the rest of the chumps in the gym because you will look A LOT more ripped.  Use twisting motions and side crunch motions for these.

Like I said, check out my post on the best ab workout to get an idea of how to train your abs from every angle and hit every muscle – in only 3 exercises!

You don’t need to blast your abs all day to get a great workout.

Want an ab routine that works? Check this out Rapid Ripped Abs.

Stay Ripped,


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