JUMPSTART YOUR ABS
A six-pack of core secrets from Andy Speer, the trainer who created TheAnarchyAbsWorkout
New tricks that will get you shredded from the man behind The Anarchy Abs Workout.
This isn’t what I expected: it’s early in the morning in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and I’m getting worked over by trainer Andy Speer in an odd abs-and-cardio session. First I’m learning to jump all over again; then I’m doing a reverse plank. It’s 30 minutes of surprises from The Anarchy Abs Workout, Speer’s new DVD and streaming programme ( anarchyabsworkout.com). The plan blends metabolic training with strength work and gymnastics to fry your core. And it taught me a six-pack of lessons.
1/ HOLLOW HOLDS MOLD ABS
Conventional wisdom tells us to push our shoulder blades down and in during most traditional gym exercises. It’s a way of countering the hunch associated with desk jobs. But in the gym, this posture causes your abs to relax, allowing your rib cage to expand and limiting oxygen intake.
Enter Speer and the hollow-body hold: a textbook gymnastics move, it’s a key part of his abs-and-cardio routine. Lie on your back with feet together, arms overhead, and entire body tight. Now raise your arms; keep your shoulder blades, head, and legs a few inches off the floor and your lower back pressed into the floor. This forces your abs to contract deeply, pulling your rib cage downward.
2/ SMALL MOVES EQUAL BIG GAINS
Over the course of our workout, Speer finds other ways to make the hollow-body hold, a challenging move in its own right, even harder. First I’m rocking back and forth while maintaining the position, then kicking my feet in and out, and then flaring my arms out to my sides while remaining in the hold.
Each tiny adjustment challenges your already stressed core to counterbalance the movement and stabilise your body.
Add a challenge to your own workout: the next time you do, say, a plank, lift one foot off the floor and contract your glutes. Different feeling in your core, right?
3/ HEART RATE FUELS RESULTS
Speer’s routine mostly alternates between hollow-body hold variations and a series of jumps: basic vertical jumps, 180-degree jumps, side-to-side bounds, and more. Everything is done against the clock. We perform the hollowbody hold for 45 seconds, rest briefly, and then immediately begin the next 45-second set of jumps. The purpose is simple: it’s a creative way to raise my heart rate between
sets of hollow-body work, adding to the challenge of the core training while also honing athleticism. “You can do a plank or hollow-body hold when you’re fresh,” he says. “But maintaining those positions with an elevated heart rate is a really athletic way to train.”
4/ PROGRESSION IS A WORKOUT
I’ve probably jumped a million times in my lifetime, but this morning we’re starting from square one. I explode onto my tiptoes but never leave the ground during my first set of “jumps”.
But this is by design. Speer is guiding me through the oftenoverlooked technique of a jump, learning to load my hamstrings correctly before eventually leaping side to side. And it all combines to nudge my heart rate upward. “Sometimes it seems a little like, ‘All right, when are we getting to the workout?’ ” Speer says. “But if you do the steps properly, you’re going to get a workout from the technique work.” It’s a way to turn any complex athletic motion into its own workout. Try working through the phases of a running motion the next time you’re planning to run.
5/ TIME COUNTS MORE THAN REPS
It’s incredibly easy to fall into a habit of counting reps and sets in the gym, especially if you train alone. But a separate 15-minute arm workout with Speer, which he puts me through after the abs-and-cardio routine, is a reminder that there’s another way.
Every Anarchy workout pits you against time – working 40 to 50 seconds, and resting 10 to 20 seconds. Speer adapts that same formula for the arm session as I battle the clock in JM presses for triceps and curl-to-presses for biceps. Incorporate this into your next arm workout, banging out curls for 40 seconds and resting for 20 during a 4-minute set. You’ll want to use a lighter weight than usual, but the change in the pace of your workout will leave your biceps crying.
6/ SPIDER LUNGES ARE SCARY GOOD
Speer introduces a variety of stretches throughout the Anarchy workout, but today he has me performing just one: a variation of the spider lunge. To do it, start by assuming a push-up position; then, keeping your left glute tight, move your right foot just outside your right hand. Finally, reach your right arm overhead.
This is the one stretch you should do daily, says Speer, whether you’re working out or not. Do 5 to 8 reps per side, 2 or 3 times a day. “You get a whole lot of bang for your buck with the spider lunge,” he says. “It’s a commonly used stretch drill for a reason.”
“Sometimes it seems like, ‘When are we getting to the workout?’ But if you do the steps properly, you’re going to get a workout from the technique work,” says Andy Speer, left