A six-pack of core se­crets from Andy Speer, the trainer who cre­ated TheA­nar­chyAb­sWork­out

Men's Health (Malaysia) - - Cover Stories -

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.


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.


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?


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.”


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.


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.


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

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