On July 30, 2019 I began the 22 Day Ab Workout (NO REST!) by Jeff Cavaliere at ATHLEAN-X. I completed the first 22 days, liked the results I saw, so I continued for an additional 22 days. I have now completed 44 days in a row of this ab workout. This is what happened:
After 44 consecutive days of training abs with the 22 Day Ab Workout (NO REST!) by ATHLEAN-X, my abs are stronger and better capable of supporting all of my lifts in the gym. They feel and look more developed. In particular, my obliques are more visible and my love handles appear to be shrinking.
This article will be broken up as follows:
- The Training Routine
- How Much Time Does This Routine Take?
- Realistic Expectations
- Visible Abs: Exercise vs. Diet
- Highly Recommended
- YouTube Video
- Related Questions
The Training Routine
Here is a table of the 22 Day Ab Workout (NO REST!) and all of its elements.
|Heals to the Heavens||Bottom Up||45 sec.||10 sec.|
|Step Through Planks||Bottom Up Rotation||45 sec.||10 sec.|
|X-Man Crunch||Mid-Range||12 reps.||10 sec.|
|Alternating Thread the Needle||Obliques||10 reps.||10 sec.|
|Alternating Jackknives||Top Down||45 sec.||10 sec.|
|Stationary Bike||Top Down Rotation||30 sec.||10 sec.|
I love this workout for many reasons. Above all, I love that it uses time as a metric, not just sets and reps.
For most of these exercises, you perform them for a set period of time. If you succeed, you take a small break of 10 seconds and repeat the same movement. If (when) you fail, or go extinct, you take a 10 second break and proceed with the following exercise.
By tracking time and extinction instead of just sets and reps, I can focus on performing each movement with the best quality contraction and engagement as possible, for as long as I am able to. Form is never sacrificed.
It happens all too often: when people focus on sets and reps, they are tempted to sacrifice form to hit their predetermined routine numbers. For abs, this is sub-optimal. The quality of the contractions is much more important than anything else.
Focusing on quality and time, and not just sets and reps, has been a breath of fresh air for my training routine. I suspect that you might like and appreciate it, too.
I wrote in much detail about the six exercises in this ab workout in my 22-day results article. Click here to read it.
How Much Time Does This Routine Take?
Legend has it that Jeff Cavaliere is still completing sets of the first exercise, Heals to the Heavens, to this day.
As a beginner, I would estimate that it might take you between 5-8 minutes a day to complete the entire workout. As you get stronger, it could take between 9-12 minutes to complete the routine.
If you are lasting much longer than this, based on my experience, either you are very fit or you need to focus more on the quality of your contractions, slowing down, and controlling the movements even more. That should make you go extinct much more quickly and provide a better workout.
The very first time I completed this workout it took me about 7 minutes and 30 seconds, give or take. My form was terrible and I felt weak. Now, I am consistently performing the workout for between 10 and 12 minutes. My form is much improved, and I can engage my muscles much more deeply than when I started.
I find that the more I focus on the quality of the contraction, the shorter my workout. That is because my abs fatigue, or go extinct, much more quickly with quality contractions compared to just going through the motions.
So, in some ways, the less time I spend working out, the better. It means my workout is more intense, and my muscles are more engaged.
Regardless of your fitness level, you can increase the intensity of the exercises by slowing them down and contracting the muscles even more intensely. At the end of the day, the quality of the muscle contraction is more important than the number of repetitions that you complete in total.
I did not have a visible 6-pack when I started this workout on Day 1. I still do not have a visible 6-pack… yet!
If I may be honest with myself for a moment: I spent 33 years of my life neglecting my abs and core training. It would have been foolish to believe that I could have acquired a model’s physique after only 44 days.
That is absolutely fine by me. I’m just a regular guy looking to make some long term, permanent, personal change with my body. I know that with consistent training, over long periods of time, and with realistic expectations of myself, I will achieve wonderful results.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching those spectacular before-and-after videos of people who have achieved amazing body transformation results in relatively short periods of time, just like the rest of you.
But that’s not what I am doing with this workout routine, nor am I promoting crash dieting and binge exercising in short bursts. I am promoting consistent ab training, over long periods of time, completed by your average fat, broke and stupid person like myself. This is what I did achieve in 44 days. You can easily achieve the same, if not better.
Visible Abs: Exercise vs. Diet
It is commonly said that abs are built in the kitchen, not the gym. I would like to amend this expression based on my results after 44 days of daily ab training.
Abs ARE built in the gym, but they are seen thanks to your work in the kitchen.
As hard and intensely as you may train your abs, they will only be seen when your body fat percentage falls low enough for them to become visible. According to Live Strong, we need to achieve the following body fat percentages to see our abs:
- Men: between 6-9% body fat
- Women: between 16-19% body fat
While I can feel a big difference in my core muscles, without increased focus on my body fat percentage I will never see them.
The good news is that this does not necessarily mean that I must diet and starve myself. I can maintain the same weight, but change my body composition by developing all of the muscles in my body, and over time my abs will begin to become visible.
And honestly, even without visible abs, I am very happy with the progress I have made already and the progress that I continue to make. I am absolutely fine taking it slow and steady, and letting consistency and time work in my favor.
I highly, highly recommend this workout. It is simple, yet challenging. It is professionally designed, yet freely offered to the world. It is intense, yet appropriate for everyone’s fitness level from beginner to pro.
I encourage everyone to try this workout for 22 days.
Why 22 days? Well, they say it takes 21 days to build a habit. If you complete all 22 days like I did, you will be well on your way to including daily ab training into your everyday life, just like what happened to me. In fact, that’s why the workout was designed to be 22 days long! It works.
What have you got to lose, besides some muffin tops?
It is important to me to write about my experiences and my results, and to visually document them. Watch this YouTube video I made with my before-and-after results:
Just a heads up: I am continuing to do this daily ab workout indefinitely. Today is already day 49, and I will be making another update video and article after I complete 66 days.
Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the Notification Bell to receive these regular update videos, follow my progress, and get inspired to train your abs.
Is it OK to train abs every day? Yes, it is OK to train your abs every day. In fact, it is encouraged to do so by none other than Jeff Cavaliere at ATHLEAN-X. In this YouTube video, Jeff states that due to the type and size of our abdominal muscles, frequent and longer duration training is possible and beneficial. Over-training is unlikely. Your abs help support your spine. Developing strong abs will lead to a healthier body with improved posture. Your abs can be trained directly, like with ab targeted training, or indirectly by engaging your abs during all of your exercises. Watch the YouTube video for even more information.
Should you train abs first or last in your workout? Research indicates that the best time to train your abs is at the beginning of your workout. The muscles that you train first during a workout appear to achieve the fastest gains. On the other hand, the exercises trained last in a workout seem to have the slowest progress. With your abs and core being so fundamental to just about every lifting movement we perform, developing a strong core becomes crucial. Therefore, we should train them first, not last. This article by Men’s Health provides even more details.
On a personal note, I have started training my abs at the beginning of all of my workouts at the gym and I love it. I was concerned that I would be fatigued or in pain performing the rest of my workout, but this has not been the case. I feel strong throughout all of my workout, and I am actually training my abs with the intensity and consistency that they deserve.