If you ever saw the movie 300, a few things probably stood out: incredible special effects, epic battle scenes, and abs on abs on abs.
And that's how the prolific 300 Workout For Abs was born. The challenge was developed by Jeff Cavaliere in conjunction with his Athlean-X program, and it was inspired by the workout that the cast of the epic battle film used for training.
Still, Cavaliere didn’t think the O.G. workout was tough enough on abs (although Gerard Butler’s mid-section begs to disagree), so he created a core-specific workout too.
What exactly is the 300 Workout For Abs?
The 300 Workout For Abs challenges you to complete 300 reps of abs work as fast as possible. The goal is to try and power through 25 to 50 reps of six abs exercises without resting at all (or keeping rest to a minimum). Cavaliere breaks it down here:
And here’s the actual rep scheme:
300 Workout For Abs
- 50 situp reach-ups
- 25 side crunches on your right side
- 25 side crunches on your left side
- 50 Russian twists (each rep requires a floor tap to the right and the left)
- 50 hi/low scissors
- 25 leaning knee drives to the right
- 25 leaning knee drives to the left
- 50 rock the boats (each rep requires a roll to the right and left)
Is this legit or what?
The good news: Your abs can withstand a ton of repetitions, says Michele Olsen, Ph.D., a professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. “The abdominals are comprised of a relatively higher number of slow-twitch endurance fibres. In this respect, they are built to fire over and over,” she explains.
And while the specific exercises that Cavaliere includes are all great abs exercises—there’s a catch. “There’s no definitive number of abs exercise reps that we know, for sure, must come into play to get ripped-looking abs,” Olsen says.
Worse news: When you’re doing hundreds of reps, some exercises—including ones in this workout—can actually wear out the spine. “Your spine has to bend or twist every time you crunch or rotate,” says Olsen.
Oh and, BTW, doing abs for speed isn’t the best idea. “Abs are not built for speed and power,” she says. “They’re built to endure under low loads.”
What can you do instead?
While you can work these moves into your routine—Olsen suggests decreasing the reps and resting in between sets—performing 300 reps as fast as possible isn’t necessarily going to give you a six-pack or the flat abs you’re seeking. And considering the 300 Workout For Abs may cause too much wear and tear on your spine, she recommends spine-neutral moves like these three instead:
How to: Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Engage your abs and hold for as long as possible without losing your form.
SITTING BIRD DOG
How to: Sit tall on chair, gripping front edge with both hands, then scoot forward until hips and butt are in front of seat, pressing shoulders down and away from ears. Brace core, then simultaneously raise right arm forward to shoulder height while slightly lifting left foot off floor. Pause, then slowly reverse to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15 reps and then switch arms and legs.
How to: Lie faceup on floor with arms and legs in the air, knees bent 90 degrees. Maintaining contact between low back and floor, brace core, then slowly and simultaneously lower right leg until heel nearly touches floor and left arm until hand nearly touches floor overhead. Pause, then return to start and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Perform as many reps as possible in 30 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. That’s one set; do three total.
Bottom line: Abs work should be a part of a well-rounded workout routine including high-intensity interval training, proper nutrition, and spine-friendly abs moves, says Olsen. There’s no quick rep scheme for flat abs, but that trifecta will get you closer.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US