Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss

Quick Wits: Best Exercises for the Abs & Core (Lifting for Muscle Series)

February 19, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss
Quick Wits: Best Exercises for the Abs & Core (Lifting for Muscle Series)
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Show Notes Transcript

If you're looking for six pack or eight pack abs, we've got you covered today, which is all about those core muscles.

Philip (@witsandweights) reveals his top 4 exercises for sculpting your abs (sit-ups and planks are NOT on the list) in this special Lifting for Muscle Series of Quick Wits!


“Quick Wits” are short, 3-5 minute episodes between full episodes to give you an actionable strategy or hit of motivation.

These mini-episodes give you practical advice on fitness, training, and mindset based on my everyday experience with clients that you can implement right away.

If you enjoy these bonus episodes or have feedback on how to make them better, just send me a message on IG @witsandweights or hit me up in the free Wits & Weights Facebook community.

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Philip Pape:

If you're looking for that six pack or eight pack, I've got you covered today, leaving the last lifting for muscle series to the ab muscles the core as some people call it. We're talking about the best four exercises for sculpting your abs, and no sit-ups and planks are not on the list. Get ready for today's quick wits. Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Welcome to the last quick wits in the lifting for muscle series, where we cut through the fluff and get right to the muscle of the matter. Today, we're zeroing in on the abs, the centerpiece of core strength, and we're going to unpack my top four exercises for building a robust and defined midsection. Before we do, however, abs are kind of a controversial thing. You've heard the phrase that they are made in the kitchen, and, while it is true, for many people it requires a lower level of body fat to reveal those abs. The more overall strength and size you have, the easier it is to do it at a higher body fat. Also, keep in mind everybody's anatomy is different and the way that your abs pop or look is going to be very individual. But having said all that, the most important thing you could be doing for your abs is lifting heavy and doing compound lifts like the deadlift and squat, assuming you are doing those. Here are the four exercises I would love to add in to your routine to help you further develop those ab muscles Because, like any other muscle group, they need to be worked directly if you want them to respond even more. First, we have decline sit ups. So when it comes to ab muscles, we need to load them either with gravity-based kind of body weight load or with actual load from a machine or some other loaded implement. So decline sit ups you actually set your bench to a decline angle, so that's far below parallel, and then you lock your legs in and you do sit ups all the way down to the bench and then all the way back up, and this adds much more intensity than the traditional sit up, because you are unraveling your entire. It's kind of like a shrimp. It's the opposite of a shrimp. Right, you're curling in but you're then unraveling all the way to extension and targeting the upper and middle abs. The decline angle increases that range of motion and the resistance and so coming out of it is where the difficulty is. And again it's not about speed, it's really control. You can hold a plate in your arms or you can put your hands behind your head to add difficulty to the movement. So I love decline sit ups.

Philip Pape:

Number two I call these I don't know if this is the official name for it but incline reverse crunches. So take an incline bench and sit on it at somewhat of an angle, let's say 30, 45, 60 degrees, you know, fill it out and you're basically holding the bench with your hands and then using your abs to curl up your legs. Your legs can be kind of sticking out or they can be slightly bent, but that will target the lower abs and you really need to get your hips and butt off the bench and really squeeze into that at the top of the movement to maximize that ab engagement. And again, this isn't loaded, but you'll see how hard it is. The one way you can load it is to strap your feet to a cable machine with like an ankle what do they call them? Those ankle straps and you can add load that way, but most people don't need that. Number three hanging leg raises. You can either hang with straps, like a pull-up hang or a narrow grip hang, or you can use slings. The idea here is keeping your legs straight and then raising them using your ab muscles, not using momentum, not kipping right, and you're sort of curling your butt and having your butt face outward, if you will. These are very hard for some people, so you may not be able to do many, but you would definitely feel it if you're doing it the right way.

Philip Pape:

And then, number four, we have the ab wheel rollout. The ab wheel, the roller. It looks like out of a 90s infomercial, but it's actually very effective because it targets not just the abs but also your obliques, your hip flexors, sometimes even your shoulders and back. The trick is to roll out slowly, keep your core engaged, but you don't want to be in overextension either. You kind of want a slight curl at the beginning so that you can roll out and then really engage those muscles.

Philip Pape:

Remember ab movements. In addition to being loaded, the purpose of the abs is to round the back. So this is one of the very few cases where you want a rounded back in certain parts of the range of motion. So those are my four favorites. They may have surprised you because I don't do planks, I don't do regular sit-ups, I don't do crunches. I like these more loaded and gravity-based movements.

Philip Pape:

So that wraps up today's ab focused episode. Abs are important to the overall body's strength and stability, but you're going to develop that stability primarily through compound lifts. So these exercises are more for making these pop and giving you a little bit of physique development. And that's it for the lifting for muscle series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to hear more like this or any other quick wits topics, reach out to me. Send me an email, philip at witsandweightscom. That's Philip 1L at witsandweightscom. Until next time, stay strong, stay focused. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits and Weights. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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