Want better abs? Diversify your routine and add some weight to your core movements to build them up stronger.
This workout from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. is an uncomplicated method to both change up the angle of a classic core crusher, the situp, and to add a load.
“This one’s mechanically simple on the surface (decline situp, then punch one kettlebell upwards), but there’s a lot more core challenge than that going on under the hood,” says Samuel. “You’re getting a strong bracing test for your entire core when you own that torso-parallel-to-the-ground position, and you’ll battle some underrated anti-rotation as you control yourself back down to that position after each upwards punch. You’re also testing your own pure shoulder flexion too, since that punch occurs with a closed ribcage that’s incredibly busy thanks to the situp.”
To take on the decline kettlebell core crush, you’ll need a decline bench and some weights. Samuel says you can use either dumbbells or kettlebells, depending on your preference. If you need a set, check out this kettlebell option from Yes4All. Just be prepared to use lighter weights than you’d otherwise expect—the ab challenge might be tougher than you think.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Set up on the decline bench, with your legs braced at the top.
- Hold the weights near the top of your chest in both hands, and brace your core to keep your lower back off the bench so that you torso is parallel to the ground.
- Squeeze your abs to perform a situp. At the same time, press one of the weights straight up, keeping your torso as tall as possible. Make sure the opposite side weight is in a strong rack position.
- Repeat with the other arm.
The name of the game here is patience. “Aim to live for a 1-count in that torso-parallel-to-the-ground position, and let the kettlebells create challenge here,” says Samuel. “You do this by holding the kettlebells near the top of your chest. The closer those kettlebells get to your abs, the shorter the lever for your core and the easier the exercise becomes.”
Just make sure to concentrate on the lowering portion of the movement, since it’s harder than it looks to get back to parallel. “The bells are coming down in imbalanced fashion, Samuel says. “One is already at your chest, but the other is being lowered to your chest, bringing with it extra downward force. You’ll need to lock your core in more than you may think to keep your hips and shoulders tightly square to the ceiling.”
Add the decline kettlebell core crush to your workout for 3 sets of 10 to 12 total reps. Focus on moving deliberately to make the most out of the workout.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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