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Upper body / Abdominal Training Programs – Fast or Slow?

This week I received an email from a website viewer who asked, “What is better – more abdominal exercises faster or fewer stomach exercises slower?”

My answer to this question is both - BUT it depends who you are and what your goals are.  If you are simply trying to lose weight and inches, doing fewer stomach exercises slower and more deliberately is very effective and safe.  In fact, you can drop the number of reps you need to do by a factor of ten, if you hold each crunch for ten seconds.  For this type of exercise you want to exert yourself on the UP and DOWN portion of the exercise, meaning you stay flexed and control the ascent and descent of your body.  Just doing ten crunches and holding them for ten seconds each is safer and more effective than doing 100 crunches fast.  Do this 2-3 times in a workout and you have a great abdominal routine.

However, if you are in the military or law enforcement and need to score higher on your physical fitness tests in situps or curl-ups, then you need to practice doing the exercises faster, but to a pace.  A pace that produces a good score is 20 situps in 30 seconds.  This would give you 80 situps in a two minutes time period.  By increasing the pace to 25 in 30 seconds, you can get 100 in 2:00.  So, it makes sense to practice more abs exercises at a faster pace with the exertion only occurring during the UP portion of the exercise.  Relax and let gravity take you back to the starting position (floor) thus saving the abdominal energy for the ascent and a better score.

Here is a quick little workout I developed the other day with a client who thought he could not do 1000 abs in one session with me. We also got in 400 pushups. This one is for 250-400 pushups below. We could have done 1500 probably. IT is not really as hard as it looks, but you will get a great pump and feel it in your belly tomorrow. No rest on this one...

Opt out of 2-3 sets of abs below and do 100 seconds of plank pose to balance out your core muscle group.

Set #1) 100 crunches your choice
25-40 pushups (regular)

Set #2) 50 regular crunches
50 reverse crunches
25-40 pushups

Set #3) 50 Left crunches
50 Right crunches
25-40 pushups

Set #4) 100 L/R Crunches with bicycle of legs
25-40 pushups

Set #5) 50 Double Crunches (Reg/Reverse mixed) at same time
25-40 pushups

Set #6) 100 Flutterkicks (or regular crunches for those with back problems)
25-40 pushups

Set #7) 100 Leg levers (or 50 left crunches / 50 right crunches - back problems)
25-40 pushups

Set #8) 100 scissors (or 50 reg / 50 rev at same time)
25-40 pushups

Set #9) 100 situps in 2-3 minutes (or 50 left / 50 right crunches with bicycle of legs)

25-40 pushups

Set #10) 100 abs of your choice
25-40 pushups

That will equal 1000 abs exercise and 250-400 pushups.  Drop the pushups to 10 each set and still get 100 pushups in a workout.  Give this one a try.  It is fun and very quick.


This one is for those who are just beginning:

Get creative with your fitness program! That is what it takes when you are traveling on business or on vacation. Recently, my family and I took a trip back home to Florida to see my parents and we decided to drive from Maryland. After driving about eight hours the first day, we stopped at a hotel that did not have a fitness room and the pool was closed for the season. I was tired but knew I would feel better if I did a few exercises. The benefits of exercising and stretching after sitting idle for hours are numerous and include the following:

Loosen up tight joints and muscles

Increased blood flow to extremities

Increased attention span

Better nights sleep

This is the program I did for only twenty minutes right in the privacy of my very own hotel room. No equipment necessary! The super set is a series of exercises to be repeated with no rest. For the upper body superset, simply do five to ten pushups then roll over and rest your pushup muscles by doing ten crunches and continue on with the two different versions of pushups and crunches.

Superset; Repeat 5-10 times

Pushups – 5-10 reps

Crunches – 5-10 super slow 10-second reps

Wide pushups = 5-10

Reverse crunches – 5-10 reps

Close / triceps pushups – 5-10 reps

Double crunches – 5-10 slow 10-second reps

(*try the pushups slow too at 5 seconds up/5 seconds down)

As you can see, there is really no excuse why you cannot exercise any day of the week whether you are traveling, working long hours or staying at home with the kids. With minimal equipment and time sacrifice, we can all fit exercise in our lives and stay healthy for many years to come. Good luck. Make fitness as much a part of your day as taking a shower and brushing your teeth.

If you are interested in more of these type of workouts and running and swimming and weight training routine, check out the Fitness Store. Feel free to email the author of the eBooks sold here at .


 See the Fit Deck


Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the
Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at



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Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
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The Special Operations Workout

The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
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Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
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Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
- Circuit Training 101 ebook

NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
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The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
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The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


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The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

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The Fire Fighter Workout

Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral

Free SEAL Training Videos from Phil Black

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