As you look through the weight lifting workouts within this manual, you will notice that there are no abdominal exercises within the workout plans. They are left out for a reason.
Personally, I don't add abdominal isolation exercises to any of the weight lifting programs that I design. Some people need extra abdominal work while others don't. Compound weight lifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, and chin ups work the abs very well.
Some people need more than just the compound exercises, though, to strengthen the abs.
Some people might need more just because it's in their heads that they must work the abs separately and give them more attention.
Some people might have weak abs and their weak abs might be holding them back on the big compound exercises. Some people might want better looking abs because their abs just don't look that great at a low body fat percentage.
Not everyone will have great looking abs at a low body fat percentage. The majority of people will have great looking abs at a low body fat percentage. For those that do not, you'll have to do specific ab exercises to get the abs you want.
If posture is bad, you may need extra ab work. If your main lifts have been stalling for a while, you might add ab exercises into your next workout plan. If your abs just don't look that great at a low body fat percentage, then add some extra ab work.
If you think your abs might need extra attention for whatever reason, start working your abs before OR after your cardiovascular workouts. One to two workouts per week will be plenty of work for your abs.
Simply work on making progress with the ab exercises you have chosen. For each ab workout, choose 1 to 3 different exercises and do 3 sets each. No need to go to failure until you see how well your abs recover.
A good plan is to start in Week 1 with only 1 ab exercise per workout for 3 sets. In week 2, add another ab exercise to the workout. Do 3 sets each exercise for a total of 6 sets. In week 3, add another ab exercise to the workout for 3 exercises of 3 sets each. In week 4, start back at just one exercise and continue the cycle.
Do 8 to 15 reps per set of each ab exercise. Once you reach 15 reps on all sets for a given exercise, increase the resistance on that exercise by a small amount. Increasing the resistance will help increase the strength of your abs and add muscle to the abdominals.
Here are the best ab exercises you can choose from:
• Hanging Leg Raises
• Hanging Knee Raises
• Swiss Ball Crunches
• Swiss Ball Alternating Crunches
• Swiss Ball Plank Holds
• Abdominal Roller / Wheel
• Cable Crunches
• Reverse Crunches
• Lying Leg Thrusts
• Swiss Ball Knee Tucks
• Side Plank Holds
• Ab Vacuum
That's all you need to do to increase strength and build the abdominals. There's no reason to work the abs any more than 1 to 2 times per week with a maximum of 9 sets per workout. Simply work on adding resistance to the exercises once you reach the maximum number of reps.