Training for brick-like abs with Eric Broser (pictured).
Q: I’ve noticed that your abs are not just ripped — they look like bricks. Did you always have thick abdominal muscles? I have a six-pack, but it doesn’t look like yours even at four per cent body fat!
Eric Broser: No, I absolutely did not always have thick ab blocks (as I like to call them). The washboard you have been seeing online in more recent photos is a direct result of my training and the focus I have been putting on thickening my abdominal muscles in recent years.
While I have most definitely been blessed with a small waist and rather narrow hip structure, it was not until I reached my early 40s that my abs became a truly impressive aspect of my physique.
Here are the key actions that led to my abdominal metamorphosis. Try them, and see what they can do for you.
- Train your abs twice weekly.
- Treat them as you would any other muscle group, not an afterthought.
- Slow the tempo, and focus on the stretch and squeeze of each exercise.
- Add more resistance to every abdominal movement so that you can perform fewer reps.
- Take every set to failure.
Find a core of abdominal exercises that you ‘feel’ the most, and stick with them.
In regard to that last point, the most productive exercises for me are weighted floor crunches, cable crunches, seated machine crunches, hanging straight- and bent-leg raises, incline straight- and bent-leg raises, lying side crunches and cable side crunches.
Although I’m the creator of the Power/Rep Range/Shock training system and use it and its hybrids most of the year for all of my muscle groups, I rarely included abs in that regimen until recently. Instead, I would simply throw in a few sets of ab work at the end of one or two workouts per week with no real strategy. Once I took stock of my physique and realised that my abdominals were decent but lacking the wow factor, I decided to get serious and attack them with the same focus and ferocity as I would hit back, bi’s or delts. With that decision the following P/RR/S ab-zapping program was born:
Weighted floor crunches (with heavy DB on chest) 3-4 x 10-12
Hanging or supported straight-leg raises (DB between feet) 3-4 x 10-12
Rep Range week
Cable crunches 2-3 x 13-15
Incline straight-leg raises 2-3 x 16-20
Lying side crunches 2-3 x 21-25
Seated machine crunches (drop set) 2 x 16-20(8-10)
Hanging or supported bent-leg raises 2 x 16-20
Incline bent-leg raises 2 x 16-20
Cable side crunches 1 x 13-15; rest 10 seconds, max reps; rest 20 seconds, max reps
After two P/RR/S cycles I shuffle the exercises around a bit to provide variation and keep stimulating the muscles, mind and central nervous system in a unique manner. I should also point out that I have built a very strong mind/muscle connection in my abdominals, which helps immensely in keeping the hip flexors out of all leg raise movements.
There is no magic formula behind building ‘bricks’ for abs. What it takes is committing to treating them just as you would any other major muscle group!
— Eric Broser
Photo credit: Neveux