The Sure-Fire Way to Make Your Ab Workout More Challenging? Adjust the Tempo

Photo: Getty Images/Fat Camera
Let's face it: There are few fitness moves quite as boring as holding a multi-minute plank or doing a zillion sit-ups in a row for the sake of a stronger core. And while there are plenty of ways to spice up your ab routine—a la creative crunches or props—after a while, they all start to feel pretty snoozy, too. But one thing you may not have tried before? Changing up the speed of your movements.

Not only will applying the principles of "tempo training" to your ab workouts keep things interesting, but it can also help make the moves more effective. "Switching up the speed adds dynamics to your ab routine. By playing with those dynamics, it forces you to not only engage your mind by making it nearly impossible to zone out but it challenges your muscles to fire in two different ways," explains Kendall Roach, founding trainer of New York City's newest invite-only fitness studio, The Ness. "When you add speed, you trigger your muscles to fire up and react quickly. When you slow it down you can focus on the length and integrity of the movement. Those two dynamics together create a one-two punch for challenge and performance."

By moving your body in what Roach calls "multifaceted ways," you're able to enhance the results you're working toward. "Working any muscle slowly allows the body to burn fat faster, by firing up slow twitch muscle fibers, while adding speed to that same movement increases agility, stamina, and strength," he explains.

Ready to try it out on your own mat? Roach suggests blasting a high speed hit (his go-to's are “Midnight City” by M83 (BPM of 105), “Hot in Herre” by Nelly (BPM of 107) and “You Owe Me” by NAS (BPM of 110)), and circuiting through the following series:

  • 4 x basic crunches at half tempo
  • 4 x basic crunches at full tempo
  • 4 x full sit ups at half tempo
  • 4 x full sit ups at full tempo
  • 4 x cross crunches at full tempo
  • 4 x cross toe crunches at full tempo

See if you can repeat the movements for the entire song (you definitely won't be bored!) and your abs will be hurting in the best-possible way.

Tempo training can also be ultra-effective in your squat routine, too. And here's the 3-in-1 move that J. Lo's trainer swears by to end every workout.

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