Ultimate Core Workout

When it comes to building your ultimate physique, some heavy lifting is probably essential. When it comes to building eye-popping abs at the center of that physique, Cellucor athlete Craig Capurso says heavy lifting is no substitute for direct core work. All of those heavy standing movements– the deadlifts, bent-over rows, and military presses– do work your abs, but they do it mostly isometrically. Capurso says that to build your abs you’ve got to do targeted exercises that actively shorten and lengthen your ab muscles. Think about it: You wouldn’t expect to build world-class biceps just by flexing them isometrically, would you?

craig capurso ball slam

Capurso recommends training abs largely in the classic hypertrophy-focused 8-12 rep range. That’s definitely not all he does. In his routine, he also subjects his core to “combination Tabata” pairings that have you alternating two movements for four of the most grueling minutes you’ll ever experience.

If you need to accelerate your progress to a gleaming six-pack, look no further. Capurso says that his Ultimate Abs Workout is intense enough that you only need to do it once a week. But if you’re really jonesing for a summer washboard, he’s giving the green light to do it twice a week.

Ultimate Core Workout

Standing Cable Ab Crunch – 4 Sets X 12 Reps (1 min rest in between)

Superset: Plank – 20 Sec / Bicycle Crunch – 20 Sec (8 rounds, rest 10 seconds between exercises and rounds)

Stability Ball Pike Crunch – 4 Sets X 12 Reps (1 min rest in between)

Superset: T-Bar Landmine Twist – 20 Sec / Medicine Ball Slam – 20 Sec (8 rounds, rest 10 seconds between exercises and rounds)

Toes to Bar – 4 Sets of 12 Reps

Superset: Slalom Twist – 4 Sets of 12 Reps / Weighted Oblique Twist – 20 Sec (8 rounds, rest 10 seconds between exercises and rounds)

Craig’s Technique Keys

Standing Cable Ab Crunch

Watch Capurso’s little finger as he demonstrates proper form. The point of his demo is to make it clear you have to crunch and bend at the hips to make this movement work. This is not a straight-arm pull-down or some kind of reverse deadlift here! Your hips shouldn’t move, and your legs shouldn’t move. The only thing that should move is your upper body. Use a weight that’s 60-70 percent of your 1RM (hard to calculate on this move, granted) and keep it on for all 12 reps. It should be heavy, but not so heavy you can’t do all 12.

craig capursos standing cable ab crunch


Keep your body straight, making sure not to sag at your hips. You’ll only be doing it for 20 seconds, so if it seems too easy, focus on really contracting your abs to make it more difficult.

Bicycle Crunch

Some people like to grab their head when they do crunches, but this can lead to neck strain. Breath out as you bring your elbow to the opposite knee.

craig capursos bicycle crunch


There are a few ways to do this. Craig favors the seat of a rowing machine. You can put your feet on an exercise ball if you don’t have a rowing machine handy. That may sound easier, but it’s not. No matter how you perform it, focus on sucking your belly button in toward your backbone and isometrically squeezing your abs as you come to the top.

craig capursos stability ball pike crunch

Landmine Twist

Make them work hard, but keep your spinal integrity while you do it. Keep your arms straight, and both resist the bar on the way down and move it with your obliques on the way up.

Ball Slam

Pay attention to how you engage your core to do this exercise. Bring the ball up and behind your head, stretching your abs at the top.

craig capursos ball slam 2

Toes to Bar

The key to a good toes to bar is knowing how to bring your hips up underneath. He maintains that most people use a leg raise that involves way too much hip flexor and not enough core. Instead, make sure you tilt your pelvis, bringing your pubis bone into your bellybutton to make sure you’re targeting the lower abs.

Slalom Twist/Oblique Twist

For the slalom, keep your upper body straight– even if you have to hang on to something, like Craig does. The goal is to keep your upper body still while your hips rotate fully. The oblique twist is the exact opposite of the slalom twist: Keep your hips and lower body still, and get good rotation out of your upper body with the help of the weight.

craig capursos slalom twist

Article and Images Source: Bodybuilding.com