Top 5 killer calisthenics ab exercises for faster results

Top 5 killer calisthenics ab exercises for faster results

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When we hear the word abs, the first thing that pops in our minds is Zac Efron’s rock solid, beach-ready abs. No? Just me? Fine, but one reason he was able to attain those are from the most important ab exercises.

But wait, Ab exercises have too many benefits.

These are not only for aesthetics. Benefits are well spread into function. Having strong abdominal muscles assist in providing good posture, balance,  translates into your sport and provides power for your compound movements. It’s overall good balance in our system.

Especially in calisthenics, the number of skill work requires you to have superb ab muscle strength and endurance. But why do it on a bar?

Hanging on the bar requires you to work your abs even more.

If your form is correct, the simple act of hanging already puts stress on your abs. Your core works to stabilize you on the bar and part of the core is the abdominal muscles. Gravity is not your best friend for these types of exercises. Plus, you’ll have stronger grip and forearms for hanging around.

Bar ab exercises are challenging and will definitely build your towering 6 pack. Just remember that form is everything and shift to an easier progression or similar exercise first if you can’t do the proper form yet.

Top Exercises to Maximize your Ab Gains

If you’re going to train your abs, might as well use the top exercises to maximize your ab gains in no time! Here they are:

KNEE UPS

This is the entry point in your bar journey. The easiest in this list but still a contender among all of the ab exercises. Your lower abs will do most of the work and contraction so prepare for upcoming pain the next day.

How to Perform

1. Grip the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart.
2. Make sure your arms are straight and shoulders, back, hip, legs fall in a straight line.
3. From this position, bend your knees and lift your knees up towards your chest. The closer to chest, the better.
4. Come down slowly to the first position.

Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back slightly round as your lift your knees.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and comedown slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

LEG RAISES

This is like the harder version of the previous exercises. Instead of bent knee, keep the legs straight. Aim to reach the top of the bar with your toes. The increased leverage puts more stress on the abs. Your upper and lower abs will work together to execute the movement. You should also perform mobility exercises prior to your attempt since mobility is required for the exercises. Don’t be lazy now!


How to Perform

1. Grip a hanging bar with hands placed shoulder width apart
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Keep your legs straight and close. Keep your feet off the floor.
4. From this position, lift your legs straight up till the feet touch the bar.
5. Come down in a controlled manner.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when you’re doing the movement.
6. Perform mobility exercises so you can reach the top portion of the movement.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

WINDOW WIPERS

This is an advance and quite a challenging ab workout. Lower and upper abs will do work but your obliques will also come to play as you move your legs side to side. You can train this movement on the floor if hanging is too difficult for you. This is a difficult exercise, but don’t leave it be because window wipers can wipe your way to a strong and complete rock solid abs.


How to Perform

1. Grip a hanging bar with hands placed shoulder-width apart.
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Keep your legs straight and close. Keep your feet off the floor.
4. From this position, lift your legs straight up till the feet are above the bar.
5. The back is rounded and almost parallel to the floor
6. Now twist your lower back such that the legs move slowly towards each side as much as possible.
7. Feel the side abs, back rotators, upper and lower abs tense while lifting and moving the legs.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Perform the movement with control.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

WINDMILLS

Another excellent core building exercise that targets your abdominals, obliques and hip flexors. This is like a leg raise but instead of going straight up, it moves side to side.


How to Perform

1. Start by hanging from bar with overhand grip.
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Bring legs up by creating a circle starting from left around to the right, then returning to side you started.
4. Repeat bringing legs up from the right circling to the left.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and comedown slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Perform mobility exercises so you can reach the top portion of the movement.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

KNEE RAISE KICK OUTS

It basically what it is named. As you knee raise, you kick out. This additional movement to the knee raise brings additional stress to your abs, making the move a lot harder than it already is. Bring this to your work out when knee raises becomes too easy.


How to Perform

1. Grip the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
2. Make sure your arms are straight and your shoulders, back, hip, legs fall in a straight line.
3. From this position,bend your knees and lift your knees up towards your chest. The closer to chest, the better.
4. Extend your legs away from your body to create an L position for a brief moment.
5. Come down slowly to the first position.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back slightly round as your lift your knees.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when you’re doing the movement.
6. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

Now that you have an arsenal of exercises for your abs, plan and set out your routine.

 

Treat your Ab Workout like any other Workout.

This means that you don’t have to do your ab workout everyday and only with high reps. Just like other parts of your muscles, the same principles apply to your abdominal muscles when creating a routine. Train with proper rep ranges, sets, difficulty and rest periods..

And if you’re aiming for that luscious 6 packs, eat well as you train. That goal relies more on your caloric deficit. But no worries, we got you covered regarding your eating.

Try it out and let us know in the comment section below what you think.

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“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”
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How To Train At 50 And Dare To Bare Your Arms & Abs

How To Train At 50 And Dare To Bare Your Arms & Abs

Let’s face it…  We all want nice arms and a waistline we can show off to the world. Better yet, we all want to be fit no matter our age.

Women want Michelle Obama’s arms, Kelly Ripa’s abs, and Rachel Mclish full package.

Men want Arnold Schwarzenegger”s arms, Daniel Craig’s eight pack, and Sylvester Stallone’s physique.

And they want to have these at any age.

But why does aging past 50 years mean you can’t have a sexy waistline and strong arms?

Older and wiser does NOT have to mean fatter, weaker and jigglier.  

In this post, I will teach you a different way to approach your body training.  It is less conventional, yet very effective if you are over the age of 50.  Because training daily, as a habit to better your body, should be as natural as brushing your teeth.

The “rules” changed when you entered your 50’s. Do you change your approach to match the new rules?

In my experience, the most frustrating thing for my older clients is the realization that they are no longer 23 years old. But age is not the problem. It’s your body that changes.

What worked in your thirties no longer works in your fifties.

So how can you train now that you are in your 50’s?

Improvidus, apto quod victum

As most U.S. Marines will tell you, “Improvise, adapt, overcome.”

Age-related muscle loss and fat gain are not for YOU.

Most science suggests that as we age we have little to no control over these things.

We need to take action to overcome our own bodies.

Many age-related issues can be avoided with strength training and good nutrition. Aging does NOT mean more aches and pains, unless YOU allow them.

Yes, the “rules” did change somewhere along the way. But it is up to us, athletes, to challenge those “rules.”

[VERY IMPORTANT] If you are new to training, go easy, get guidance and be patient. If you ARE over 30, overweight and in chronic pain – visit your trusted medical professional before taking on any exercise program.

The biggest rule I suggest you break is your training frequency.

As we age, moving more often is really helpful. Training daily helps keep things going, and if done right, leads to less frustration and better results.

Are you ready for a paradigm shift?

A training session can be done in 5 minutes.

Read that again.

Five minutes to train? NO WAY.

Yes way.

5 minutes for A Training Session.

Here’s an example – Set a countdown timer for 5 minutes.

NO… Really.  Stop, grab your phone and set a countdown timer.  Do it now.  I’ll wait.

C’mon… Just do it.

OK. Start the timer.

Perform 21 “air” squats, followed by 8 straight bridges or wall walks.  Repeat this sequence as many times as the timer allows.  That’s One Training Session, done.

If you did it… Congratulations!

You could have done that session literally ANYWHERE and anytime.

Now do that 4 more times today.  Whenever you can.

NO gym required.  NO wasted/lost time.  Just 15 to 25 minutes of focused exercise for an entire day.

“But Steeeeve…  You said ARMS and ABS!?”

Yes, I did.  Fortunately, I am a “responsible” training specialist.

Deep squats DO work your abs, especially your lower belly and pelvic floor.  The straight bridge hit the back of your arms, didn’t it? There’s your arms.

Now, how’s your Plank?

Can you hold a Straight Arm (Push Up Position) Plank for 2 Minutes?

If NO, Start here.  It really is important for your shoulder health and core strength.

Clockwise from top:  Low Plank, Reverse Plank, Prone Back Extension, Side Plank, Front Plank

The basics of the plank must be practiced and developed.

plank positionHere’s your core training if the 2 minute plank eludes you:

Work on holding each of these for 20 seconds a few to several times per day.  Increase your time to build up toward 60 seconds each. Test your plank in 3 weeks and let me know where you’re at.

Clockwise from top:  Low Plank, Reverse Plank, Prone Back Extension, Side Plank, Front Plank

push up, bridge

If your plank is solid, try this:
  • Push Up  (pick the version that challenges you for 13 reps)
  • Straight Bridge

Stick to the 5-minute timer.  Alternate back and forth between exercises (8 reps each), resting as needed.

How do your arms feel?

Continue to do this session throughout your day.

ADIT – What does it mean

You might be able to do 5, 8, or more 5-minute training sessions per day.  Each session “Hits” your metabolism pretty hard.

Each session makes a barely noticeable dent in your time.

I call this, All-Day Interval Training (ADIT).

Yes, I just made that up and I claim dibs for infinity!

Why wouldn’t ADIT be great for your fat reduction efforts??  Rhetorical. It will.

If body fat reduction is a priority – Prioritize 5 minutes (One “mini-session”) of exercise before any meal, snack, or beverage (other than water).

If muscle growth is a priority – Get a solid 10-12 minutes of targeted work 4 times per week.  Your targeted muscles should feel “Pumped Up” after these.

I’m gonna share with you another another secret.

Work your whole body, or most of it, all the time, with every exercise.

Sorry, machines really won’t cut it. Not most of the time. Or at all, in my world.

The first combo I shared worked your core hard.  Upper back and glutes…  so what  muscles are left?

More importantly (if you tried it), How Do YOUR Arms FEEL?

We targeted the arms and the back of the arms.

Tomorrow we target something else. Could be legs. But WHY?

calisthenics training over 50

It’s all about the arms and abs, right?

Top secret:  Do one session every day for legs, like the 5 minutes we did above.

Here’s for tomorrow:  grab a moderately heavy Dumbbell for Biceps Curls.  You only need one as you will be doing one arm at a time (more challenge for the core).

Alternate 8 or more

  • Dips (bench, chair, box, bars, etc.) with,

1-Arm Strict Biceps Curls for the same number of reps on each arm.  (Concentration Curl shown)

If it’s a busy day at work…  Every 30 minutes, do one round, more if you can.  Don’t forget 5 minutes for the legs.  You could do “double step stairs”, up and down in the stairwells before lunch.  In the picture, I did Picnic Bench Step Ups.

Hopefully by now you’ve picked up on my concept of increased training frequency and exercising as a habit.

The most important thing is to successfully turn exercise into habit

  • Train every day. Don’t kill yourself everyday.  Target the important areas (Arms & Abs) daily.
  • Accumulate 20 or more minutes of total training per day.
  • Focus on multi-jointed movements that require your core (not a bench) to support you.
  • You don’t need a gym or special clothing to be strong and sexy.
  • Mobility training is still training. Two 5-minute mobility sessions per day is a great idea.

If it’s important, DO it every day.

Train your arms and core daily.  You can find more training sessions on my Instagram.

One more secret

This is an “AB” or core training secret – Do NOT focus on crunching the “6-pack”.  Instead, imagine a ball inside the middle of your abdomen.  Crush down on the entire surface of that ball – Squeeze from all sides.  Doing a Kegel helps here.

Using calisthenics and bodyweight protocols/progressions can thoroughly train you for strength, fat loss, mobility, and power in for short sessions every day.

The key is to Do It Every Day.

This helps to solidify the HABIT of exercise.  How many days would you go without brushing your teeth?

It’s not some competitive gym thing.  It’s about YOU and YOUR body.

This is real world, common sense physical culture.

To learn more different techniques of weaving your “workouts” into your day, leave questions in the comments below.

Are you ready to Overcome your 50’s?

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Trainer Steve

P.S. – Below are a list of trainings I did while writing this article:

  • Tactical Pull Ups
  • Ring Rows
  • Close Push Ups
  • Bridge Push Ups
  • Pike Push Ups

Each session provided a nice break from the keyboard and took me about 3-5 minutes.

Bonus Arms:  Halo Arms, Halo Tri-Extensions and Halo Curls

Halo Arms, Halo Tri-Extensions and Halo Curls

Bonus:  Whole Body Circuit

whole body circuit

calisthenics assessment

Calisthenics abs like an ice tray? Focus on these!

Calisthenics abs like an ice tray? Focus on these!

I recently got a really interesting question from one of our readers and thought its worth a whole article. Getting a six pack, a really nice, visible, like an ice tray is not easy and there is a few things you need to get right, but before anything you need to know that it will take time, so be ready to put work into it for a long period of time.

Bruce Lee is rumored to have done over 1,000 ab workout repetitions per day. Everything from sit-ups, to leg raises and leaning twists. Based on this picture, there is no doubt Bruce’s core strength rivaled that of a great sequoia. But there’s much more to acquiring razor sharp calisthenic abs than just sit-ups.

1. Core Focused

Abdominals are only one of 4 muscles that make up your core. You have your right and left obliques, and your lower back muscles. Together, this group of muscles forms a sleeve around your midsection, and is imperative to preventing injury during exercise. When trying to strengthen one muscle group, it’s equally important to strengthen the surrounding and antagonist muscles. The muscles in your body are all dependent on each other and your body likes to keep things proportionate. Having massive quads is hard to do without building your hamstrings. Same with abdominals, if you truly want a strong core, you need to work all the above mentioned muscle groups. Here are a few exercises that will help:

  1. Swiss Ball Jackknife. 3×12

 

  1. Bosu Crunch 3×10

 

  1. Side plank 30 seconds (each side), 3X

Apart from those Leg Raises Progression Its a killer abs workout. You can use this basic leg raises progression from Convict Conditioning which is depicted here, or an extended one which I am using. There is actually a lot of really good and really advanced ab exercises like which you can check in our progression spreadsheet like Hanging V Raise Windshield Wipers

Your diet

Now that we’re sure you’re doing [tweet_box design=”box_03″]the proper exercise to get those ice tray calisthenics abs[/tweet_box], I’m going to let you in on a secret: well-defined abdominal muscles have little to do with exercise, and everything to do with body fat percentage. For those of you who workout regularly, chances are you already have a rockin 6-pack hidden under a thin layer of belly fat. The models who flash their stomachs on the covers of Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines have body fat percentages in the low single digits.

How do you get that layer of belly fat to dissipate?
Through diet, particularly a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. Your daily intake of macronutrients should be broken down as follows:

  • Limit carbohydrates to 100 grams per day
  • 1-1.5 grams of protein for guys, per pound of bodyweight, per day / 0.7 grams of protein for girls,per pound of bodyweight, per day
  • The rest of your calories should come from healthy fat.
    • Nuts, nut butters
    • Eggs
    • Olive oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Butter from grass-fed cows
    • Avocados
  • Get enough green vegetables. Make a green smoothie making sure you are getting enough nutrients

To get more direction on a diet read this article on a Lean Mean Calisthenics Diet, but keep in mind, the diet is what will make it work.

Genetics

The unfair truth is that genetics play a huge role in how much fat your body stores. Dropping down to 4%-5% body fat is not sustainable for most of us, even those magazine cover models who spend weeks cutting down to that size. There are the select few whose bodies are more comfortable with little body fat, but they’re the exception.

Having a 6-pack along with a well-defined muscular body; typically has more to do with being skinny than anything else. Remember Brad Pitt in fight club? While he had some serious muscle tone, he’s wasn’t that muscular, what made him look so cut-up was an extremely low body fat percentage. 80% of body composition is diet, so even though exercising plays an important role, what you eat is the ultimate determining factor.

If you really want a six pack you ve got to focus.

 If you are looking for a complete guide on what to eat while training calisthenics to get your abs ripped, Renegade Diet is the place to go. Check it out. 

calisthenics diet

It's TIME to get your DIET RIGHT!

DISCOVER 10 BIGGEST NUTRITION LIES! 

Bodybuilding Calisthenics Routine

READY TO GET ON TEH JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

See what our users are saying:

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

GET A LIFETIME ACCESS TO THE CURRENT CALISTHENICS ACADEMY AND NEW MOBILE APP

(+ all the future updates and help us build the product you will love)

TODAY $97 ($399 AFTER)