If you train your abs really hard but don’t have any delayed onset muscle soreness, did it really even happen? For some reason — some primal, cerebral wiring shared by die-hard athletes — the absence of soreness after a solid abdominal workout results in the kind of deep-soul sadness that can only be replaced with another solid abdominal workout. Or donuts.
There’s just something utterly rewarding about a thoroughly destroyed midsection. Sure, you can’t reach for things and sitting forward on the couch to grab the remote is an activity suddenly fraught with pain and torment, but those aching abs feel like progress. Anecdotally, most people with sore abs tend to perceive their waistlines as being smaller — a minor psychological victory that can prevent tonight’s dessert and tomorrow’s ritualistic hit of the snooze button.
So how does one go about achieving that down-to-the-spine abdominal soreness week after week? Well, a few perfunctory sets of crunches at the end of your workout — the preferred abdominal methodology of far too many gym-goers — certainly isn’t going to do it.
Keeping in mind that DOMS is largely a result of eccentric muscle damage. You need to use a routine that makes prudent use of it with a buffet of challenging exercises, ideally without adding too much time to your gym session.
These two routines are built on the principle of constant tension but also pay respect to your schedule. Both routines take exactly five minutes — there is no built-in rest — and can be done as end-of-the-day finishers or as stand-alone workouts. In the case of the latter, you can follow your midsection training with a quick cardio bout to make use of mobilized fat. These routines are designed to be performed in the same space with minimal equipment, keeping transitions between exercises quick and easy.
WORKOUT 1: INTERMEDIATE
This workout makes use of the plank, an underrated abdominal exercise that taxes the deep transverse abdominis. When these muscles are well-conditioned, the abdominal wall (rectus abdominis) is kept tighter to the spine, giving you a slimmer waist while also fortifying you against injury.