3 Killer Low Ab Exercises You Need To Try

One of the most common areas I get asked about around this time of the year is the lower abs. This can easily be the trickiest part of the body to work for so many because a lot of us especially males tend to hold fat around this spot so it can sometimes be one of the last areas to have noticeable results. My advice is simple, eat in a caloric deficit, train abs often especially the lower abs with the right exercises like what I am about to show you and stay consistent with this because it will take time but it will be worth it!

#1 – Hanging leg raises


I watch a lot of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel and I believe he had an science explained video on abs. He went over how the lower ab exercise that hit the highest on the EMG scale was the hanging leg raise variations.

I enjoy this (not really) because this exercise, when done correctly really works core strength and makes those low abs start to pop. It can be a more difficult exercise for beginners so just start with low reps such as 5 and do as many as 5-10 sets until you start getting better at these, then start doing 10 or more each set.

#2 – Scissor kicks to a leg hold


This is one I started doing when I was in the gym experimenting with core work. I then implemented it with clients and got feedback. Of course they hated it so I kept doing it. They don’t pay me to take it easy on them. They love the challenge though! I like to do these towards the end of the workout to burn out the core. I will typically do 2-5 sets of 20 seconds on scissor kicks then straight to 10 seconds of leg holds. We will do this a few times without rest and then try to push out a couple more sets.

#3 – Hanging scissor kicks

This is one I came up with a while back and it burns the abs like a mo-fo. I like to just hold on to the pull up bar when I do these but you can also use the arm slings if it is more comfortable for you. I like to do these for 50 total reps or for 30-60 seconds. I will do about 3-5 sets of these.

Bonus AB Training Tip

Abdominal muscles are a little different compared to the rest of the muscles in the body because they are constantly firing and being used. I mean think about it, you drop your pen on the ground and go to pick it up and the first thing that fires is your core. With that being said, you can handle more training frequency with your abs then some of your other muscles so you could technically train them everyday, which has been a great tool for me. I have done it before and I know plenty of other fitness experts that have done it.

I would recommend switching the exercises up each day. Have a list of 10 ab exercise you want to hit for a couple weeks straight and split them up evenly through the week. Do a total of 100 reps all together each night for the exercises you picked.

You could also use my Iron Core Challenge to go off of. It is a month of different ab exercises that you do 100 reps each night. They can all be done at home by the way! It has videos and the lay out plan on that page. I loved it, and so did a lot of others around the world that tried it!

Something you could do with these 3 low ab exercises is set it up like the following:

Monday:

-Hanging leg raises 5 x 10
-Hanging scissor kicks 5 x 15 seconds
-Scissor kicks to a leg hold (15 seconds – scissor kicks, 15 seconds leg raises) 5 sets

Wednesday:
4 sets of 30 seconds each – no rest at all, get through it and you’re done for the day.

Hanging leg raises
Scissor kicks to a leg hold (15 seconds each)
Hanging scissor kicks

Friday:
As many sets as possible in 12 minutes

Hanging leg raises — 10
Scissor kicks to a leg hold –(20 seconds each)
Hanging scissor kicks –40 total reps – 20 each leg

Thank you for reading todays article, I hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions, reach out to me and I would be happy to help you out!

Have a great Tuesday!!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday (Chest and Back Pump)

Welcome to another Workout Wednesday! Today we are hitting chest and back! We are going to use the “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes” technique that we saw in yesterdays post.

Start this workout with a good warm up. Here is an example warm up I would perform before this workout:

Bike – 5 minutes
Shoulder swings – 10 each way, 20 total
Band pull aparts – 2 x 15
Push ups – 2 x 10

Now that we have a warm up in, lets get started with 3 sets of pull ups till failure. If you can not do a pull up, do assisted pull ups if possible for at least 8-10 reps each set. If you have no access to assisted pull ups, do lat pull downs. Set the weight stack to your body weight and do as many as possible.

After that comes the dumbbell bench presses. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post on the 3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes then check it out so it all makes sense for you. You will do 2-3 sets with 60 seconds of rest after a whole set is complete.

We are making our way to the cable machine after for some reverse cable flys to target our rear delts.

Picture was used from google images.

We will then hit seated cable rows with a close grip. We will start heavy and decrease the weight as the reps increase. The catch here is that after every set you complete, switch weight and get right back to work. This will pump the back up before you leave the gym.

All in all, this workout should be something you can complete in 30-40 minutes if you get to work and don’t get distracted. This will be a solid workout though, use your better judgment for the weights you pick. Do something challenging but nothing that will break down form.

Try this one out next time you go to the gym and let me know what you think! Have a good Wednesday!

-Alex Costa-

3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes

Click here for the video!

I was in the gym experimenting with a few exercises and training methods these past couple weeks and I feel like I have struck gold with some of these. I want to share one of them with you today! I have tried this with some clients and they have a love/hate feeling for this one haha. I call it “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes”. If you are tight on your schedule then this could be a great tool for you to use or if you’re looking to add in extra volume or just get a solid pump, this will most definitely get the job done!

I am a huge fan of hitting a muscle from different angles but it can take up quiet some time during training if you are doing a few sets of 10 reps. Nothing wrong with that approach at all but here’s a method that can take far less time and increase the total work volume put in during your workout which in turn can create more muscle damage (in a positive way).

As you can see, to the left I have a picture of the pectoralis major muscle. I wanted to show you this so you can see how the muscle fibers run. The muscle fibers run laterally and insert into the top of the humerus. As we do our incline angle it will target what I have marked in the blue. As we take the bench angle down to a flat bench it will target more of the red area. Then the decline angle we finish with will help target the green area.

As you can see, we can manipulate this exercise to target different areas of the chest. After 1 set your chest will be begging for a break. If you think you can handle a little bit of a challenge try it for 2-3 sets total. Take 1 minute of rest after one whole set is complete. Afterwards I would target a different muscle to ensure to you do not overwork that muscle for the session.

Another key note to take into thought is to properly warm up the body and chest/shoulders to make sure your body is ready for the workout. This is a little more intense so if you are a beginner and have never lifted weights before, I would start off by breaking this down into 2 x 10-15 reps at each bench angle for a few weeks then start with 1 set of the 3 bench angles in 3 minutes and gradually increase sets to 2-3 as you get the feel for it.

I hope you like this one! Try it out and give me your feedback. Have an awesome day!

-Alex Costa-

3 Exercises For A Stronger Squat

When it comes to adding pounds on the squat, it can get very aggravating. It takes time, practice and a lot of work to develop a stronger squat. One thing that can help speed up the process is picking out the correct auxiliary lifts that will help increase muscle strength in those muscles that we use for the squat. In todays post, I will be covering 3 of my top exercises I use for my clients and myself when we need to add some pounds to the bar.

As I said above, exercise selection is crucial when strength training to increase weight to the main lifts like the squat. When I first stated I would just do a couple sets on the quad extension and seated hamstring curl machine. Don’t get me wrong, those machines are good and have their purpose but I noticed I never really added much to my squat when I only did those exercises and a little bit of calves. As I furthered my knowledge and started experimenting with myself, I noticed a select number of exercises that I would do when my squat would increase. Then I learned how to hit weaknesses for the individual when I got into powerlifting which literally changed the game for me as a trainer. I will get into this in a different article, today I am showing some of the best exercises that will help you develop a stronger squat. So let’s get started.

My first one I have on my list is the GHD. Now not everyone has the luxury to have one in their gym, I didn’t when I was at my previous gyms in the past and I didn’t even have one at my private gym at first. When I researched how beneficial the GHD is and researched countless studies on strength, performance, speed, and injury prevention I knew I needed one in Iron Strength and Conditioning. I dropped the money and got one of the best on the market, the Rogue Abram GHD 2.0 for my private gym. This puppy is one of my favorite pieces of equipment not only for me but for a lot of my clients as well. With the GHD, you can perform glute ham raises, back extensions, side bends, crunches and a lot more when you start to get creative.

The GHD works so well because because it is essentially a bodyweight hamstring curl. It is a difficult move to get down at first if you’ve never done it but it’s worth the practice because this can be one of the best exercises to increase your squat and deadlift. As you get better at these, add more resistance by adding bands or holding a dumbbell.

My second exercise is another solid hamstring/glute exercise. I watched a video of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel that goes over a study with a different variation of this exercise being one of the top listed exercises for reaching the highest Electromyographic (EMG) level for the hamstrings. This is primarily due to being a movement that keeps the hips in an extended position which activates the glutes and hamstrings, then as you bring the ball in, it is a knee flexion motion which will active the hamstrings even more. A couple things to remember is to keep your glutes engaged and keep them extended so your butt doesn’t drop down, that will take tension off the glutes and lower back. I also think about digging my heels into the ball as I bring it in as if I were trying to pop the exercise ball. A way to increase difficulty is to do one leg or use ab slider for your feet.

My 3rd exercise I have for you is one of my favorite lower body exercises, walking lunges. I used to use these here and there in my leg training when I started, I would use a barbell variation and do them in the rack but the lunges changed when I learned more from Cory Gregory. I learned that you can use walking lunges as a form of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) which in theory is literally strength conditioning. It is a movement that will work the muscle and be used as a form of cardio when lengthening the distance. This will then lead to increased training volume and increasing weak areas and will have your squat going through the roof. These lunges aren’t just a 3 sets of 12 each leg type of deal, were talking some serious distance. 400-800 meters worth in one session. Yes like the 400 meters that make a lap around a track. Now if you are starting off with these, start with something like down and back a few times in your gym then try increasing to 100 meters, then 200, then 400 and more if desired. I have found that 100-400 multiple times a week worked best for me. I added about 90 pounds to my squat back when I did these just about everyday combined with a squat everyday program Cory came out with. It worked wonders for me, but find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try new things. That is what has made me a better trainer and let me know my body better as far as what works for me and what doesn’t. I could add on to the lunges and write pages about how beneficial they are but I will save that for another post.

These 3 exercises are not the end all, be all theory that will save your squat but these 3 have been very beneficial for me and my clients I have trained. I have seen multiple clients add 30lb to their squat and even some that had 70-100lbs added in a couple months. That does not mean it will happen for you but this is a perfect example of trying new things because you never know when you will find the perfect list of exercises that will address weak points in your lifts.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me over the years, I appreciate you reading this post. Please try to share this with a friend, family member, teammate or coach to help others increase strength.

Have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday – Arm Pump


Happy Hump Day, time for another Workout Wednesday! Today we will be hitting arms. I did this a couple weeks ago and got a solid pump, one of the best arm workouts I have had in a little while. So give it a try!

*If you don’t know how to do some of the exercises, I should have them all in my Vault of Gainz page on my website –>https://costafitness.org/workout-page/

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

How to Shovel Snow Properly

There are about 11,000 injuries due to shoveling snow each year. A lot of back pain/injuries from incorrect movement patterns when shoveling are drawn from that number. I want to help by teaching you how to shovel properly so you don’t have to suffer any pain during the winter! .Share this so you can keep your friends and family clear of back pain this winter season!

Workout Wednesday (Bench Edition)


How much ya bench bro?? 

Yea, we’ve all been asked this question, so lets do a workout that will give us some confidence when we answer that! 

We will start off with bench press. Do the bar for your first warm up, don’t just slap on 45s on each side and start. If you want to work technique and get a better bench, warm up properly. After you find a good working weight, we will take that on for 4 sets of 3 reps to start off the workout.

After we finish with bench, we will move to bent over rows with an under grip position on the bar. We will work to a heavy set of 8 reps for 4 sets.

Next is a superset of incline dumbbell bench press and wide grip pull ups. For pull ups, try going for failure but go until it gets to at least 10 reps. If you can’t do that many pull ups, you can do assisted pull ups or use a lat pull down machine and put about 75%-100% of your bodyweight number as the weight on the machine.

We will then finish with a tri-set of overhead tricep extensions with a dumbbell, close grip push ups and dips. 

After you have finished the workout, go eat and get some good quality food in to help your body become stronger! I hope you like this workout, please give me feedback on how it works for you and let me know if you have questions! Have a great Wednesday! 

-Alex Costa-

Zombie Survival Workout

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! So very sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time, I got so busy opening my gym, training and coaching. I want to try posting more because I have sooooo very much I want to share and teach you guys! I hope you enjoy this workout I made today. Something that should really give ya a challenge and make you work! Let me know how you do, time yourself each set and try to beat the previous times!

Have a great day and great Halloween!

-Alex Costa-

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Straight Bar Curl With Slow Eccentric

Straight bar curl with slow eccentric💪🏼

Looking for something new to try in the gym? Try this curl variation! Some call it a cheat curl, some call it a curl with a slow eccentric. All that’s different about it is that you will proceed with a normal curl then go slow on the way down. This is the eccentric portion of the movement. The reason this can be so beneficial is because muscle and tissue damage is happening primarily on the eccentric portion of the lift. This is allowing more time under tension which can lead to more hypertrophy in the exercise!

This was my second bicep exercise today with a few sets in. You can either overload the biceps with a cheat curl and go slow on the way down or keep it pretty controlled the whole way through with lighter weight. Try these next time you hit biceps. Start with 3-4 sets of 8 reps, with about a 4 count on the way down. Let me know what ya think 👍🏼

 

 

Was going to start vlogging more on a daily basis and then I dropped my camera today… Going to try fixing it later so I can keep the better quality videos coming! Much love, have a great day!

-Alex Costa-

Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Smoothie

choc avocado smoothie.png

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their week. I have an article and recipe for all of my avocado lovers out there.

I discovered a few different chocolate avocado smoothie recipes the last couple days and switched some things around to get this delicious smoothie recipe. One thing I will say is don’t knock it till you try it!! This may sound like it could be gross but it is the exact opposite. This is definitely one of my favorite smoothies I have thrown together so far.

This is super simple and easy to make so lets get into what you need.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of chocolate almond milk
  • 1 TBS of organic almond butter
  • 1/2 of an avocado, should be about 60-90 grams
  • 1 banana, 100 grams is what I used
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Throw all ingredients into a blender and mix for about 30-60 seconds.

DSC01050.JPG

Importance of fiber and healthy fats:

Fiber can be a key for weight loss. It doesn’t stop there, it helps your digestive track move smoother and faster to help digest the food you are consuming. When you consume fiber, it can clean your intestines and colon which in turn keeps bacteria away helping to reduce chances of colon cancer.

I found a study by Joanne Slavin that discussed how an increased fiber intake can reduce chances of cardiovascular disease. They state that “adequate fiber intake consistently lowers the risk of CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD), primarily through a reduction in low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.” So in other words, it lowers your LDL cholesterol which is the bad cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol in the blood stream.

Avocados are a stocked house full of health benefits and can be used in so many recipes. They are mainly comprised of healthy fats which are crucial for cells in the body and play a role in brain function. They can reduce inflammation and reduce cravings as well.

I am also a big chocolate fan so if you are like me then you may find yourself making this smoothie quiet a bit. I have the macronutrients listed in the photo above for anyone interested in tracking macros. If you try this out then reach out to me and let me know what you think!

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

 

Sources:

https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/why_fiber_is_so_good_for_you/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/#B31-nutrients-05-01417