No matter how or why you train, abs are a vital part of what you do. Bodybuilders and physique athletes covet that shredded, defined, and detailed midsection. Athletes NEED strong, durable abs that produce, transfer, and absorb force during competition. Powerlifters and strongmen know that they are only as strong as their weakest link – and it sure as hell isn’t going to be their abs that prevents them from hitting their next PR!

But maybe know this already and I’m preaching to the choir. How is this going to help you? Simple grasshopper – I’ve got 2 moves that done correctly will transform your training and your midsection.


99% of the ab training you’ll see in any “fitness center” involves flexion – the act of bringing the sternum and pelvis closer together.

But in sports, and in weight lifting we actually want to maintain a torso position that RESISTS flexion. Think about squatting, a basketball players defensive stance, a fighter squaring off, or a football player about to make a tackle…head UP, chest UP – not shoulders rounded forward and torso hunching over!

Ab Rollouts are by far my favorite anti-flexion movement. So if you’ve been doing planks and are ready for a new challenge, you’ll love these.

You can use an ab roller, a barbell, a medicine ball, a foam roller, or a dumbell – just stay away from the hex-head plates and dumbbells as they don’t roll smoothly.

Start from a kneeling position – you can progress to doing them standing as you’ll see Michael doing in the photo below!

The secret to this movement is to keep constant tension on the abs – don’t deload or rest between reps. To do this keep your weight out over your hands, never settling back onto your knees or feet between reps. As you extend out, keep your body in a straight line – either from your knees to your shoulders ot from your feet to your shoulders. Flexing the glutes (think: squeeze a credit card between your butt cheeks) will keep you spine in a neutral position, helping you avoid pain and or injury in the lower back area. These are hard. They are even harder to do correctly. Take your time, learn the form, and be patient. Most newbies can expect 2-3 sets of 4-8 reps on their first few sessions. Slowly progress to adding more volume, then try to do them from a standing position.



There was a time when EVERY weight lifter performed this move. Personally I think that should still be the case.

The vacuum targets the oft-overlooked transverse abdominis – the body’s natural “belt” that runs horizontally across the midsection. The transverse abdominis supports proper posture and controls deep breathing – like the kind you do when squatting heavy. Proper training of this muscle can lead to a stronger midsection (obviously) but also less back pain and a tighter waistline. A strong transverse abdominis will also help you get – and stay – tighter, which as we’ve discussed before, contributes to strength and power output.

The movement is simple and basic – but not easy. To perform a vacuum, you need to first exhale and completely remove all air from your lungs. Then draw your belly button IN, towards your spine. Hold these as long as you can – most people will only last a few seconds their first time (sound familiar?) Work to hold these longer and longer. As you’re able to hold the vacuum longer, you’ll need to learn to breathe while holding it. This is done by taking controlled, shallow breaths into your upper chest.

Start your vacuum practice laying on your back on a flat surface like the floor. Here’s the progression to a standing vacuum:

  1. Lying supine (on your back)
  2. Kneeling on all 4’s (hands & knees)
  3. Seated
  4. Standing
  5. Standing with arms overhead
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