This intense powerlifting-inspired workout will increase speed, reactive strength, and power
Building a strong, sculpted body doesn’t require hours spent working out—just an expert approach. And with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, seasoned trainers Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese have compiled their best, most efficient techniques into 30- to 40-minute resistance-training workouts to help you craft a powerful, perfectly defined physique in just 60 days.
Throughout the entire 60 days, you’ll focus on Stabilization, Strength, and Power to rapidly build, sculpt, and refine your physique. Combine this training with proven portion-control nutrition-the way Sagi and Autumn do in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel-and you’ll build a body that’s strong, chiseled, and defined.
As I embark on my own 60-Day Journey with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, I will be reviewing each workout as they present themselves in the program calendar. I will add my own insights and observations about the workouts; the comments I make are my own as an Independent Certified Personal Trainer and do not necessarily represent the Celebrity Trainers or Beachbody. Full disclosure, I am also an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and a distributor of this program and all other Beachbody products. I hope the information I provide is beneficial in your personal fitness journey.
The Master’s Hammer and Chisel is one program where you could probably get away without having dedicated Ab workouts; the variety and complexity of each of the workouts in this program demand that you constantly engage your core. From balance, speed and agility work to lifting for power and strength, if you’re NOT actively engaging your core to stabilize and support your body, you are going to have a difficult time completing each workout.
The core is responsible for protecting our internal organs, providing stability to our spine (in a variety of positions) as well as allowing us to move our trunk. Flexing, reaching, side bending and rotating are all controlled by a handful of key muscles that make up our core.
All too often when we talk about an Ab workout, the first thing that comes to mind are ‘6-Pack abs’ and what it takes to get them. The reality is that the Rectus Abdominis (RA) is only one of the muscles that keeps things together in the core and by focusing solely on the RA ignores the other equally important core muscles.
Don’t get me wrong, the RA is important, it allows us to flex our trunk and the exercises to work the RA are pretty obvious; any ‘crunching’ movement where you are flexing your trunk is going to be working the RA. Thanks to muscle mags, TV and the movies, the popularity of getting a ‘6-Pack’ has skyrocketed. If that’s on your bucket list, don’t despair, EVERYONE has a Rectus Abdominis and the potential for a ‘6-Pack’, the problem is that it’s often hidden beneath layers of body fat.
There are three other muscles of the core: the obliques, both internal and external, are chiefly responsible for rotating and side bending the trunk as well as providing additional stability for the spine. The Transverse Abdominis runs horizontally across the abdomen and is primarily a stabilizer for the core. The deepest of all the core muscles, it’s role is to protect the internal organs, stabilize the pelvis and lower back prior to any movement and help the breathing process by assisting with exhalation.
The exercises in this workout will strengthen and condition ALL muscles of your core in order to provide stability, protection and mobility. However, exercise alone will not mysteriously raise the RA and the elusive ‘6-Pack’ to the surface. You have to make changes to your nutrition plan and coordinate that with regular exercise to reduce body fat. The issue is not so much about bringing the ‘6-pack’ up to the surface as it is about removing the blanket of fat that’s covering it up. The good news is that The Master’s Hammer and Chisel comes complete with a recommended nutrition plan to follow to help you achieve those goals.
Raise your legs up, keeping them as straight as possible.
Once your legs are perpendicular to the ground, raise your hands up, lifting your chest and shoulders upwards towards your feet, come back down but don’t let your feet touch the ground. You will feel the crunch in this movement after a few repetitions.
This looks deceptively simple, however there are several points where you want to ensure proper form. The ‘Crunch’ is working the Rectus Abdominis, so focus on keeping your belly button drawn in and feel the contraction of RA as you pull up. Driving the shoulders up and rotating them at the top of the crunch will help engage the obliques. Keep your head and neck in alignment and avoid overextending your neck as you come up, remember you’re not using hands to pull you up. Work at keeping your right leg planted on the ground, the slight bend with the outward pointing knee will help with stability.
Complete 60 seconds on the right side, then 60 seconds on the left.
As your body moves through space, it uses any combination of three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. To get the most benefit from a plank, your body positioning is key; you want to form a straight line from heels, hips to head; this puts your body into alignment in the Frontal Plane. Contracting your glutes, drawing your bellybutton in towards your spine and keeping your shoulders down and back fixes your starting alignment in the Sagittal Plane. This exercise takes you through all planes of motion while focusing on your core.
As shown below, Step 1 is to complete a hip raise by dropping your hip so it just touches the mat, then return to the starting position. This part of the move occurs in the frontal plane and is engaging your obliques.
Next, draw your top knee up into crunch, bringing your elbow down to tap the knee. This not only works the Rectus Abdominis with the movement of the knee in the sagittal plane, but it also engages your obliques as you contract and rotate your torso in the transverse plane.
Just as with the Oblique Crunch Twist, you will perform 60 seconds on the right side, then flip and do 60 seconds on the left. A progression for this move is to take it up to a high plank, keeping your hand aligned under your shoulder.
The setup is simple, lie on your back on a mat with arms close your body, hands under your hips. Raise legs upward (to vertical) with a slight bend in your knees; this is your starting position. Lower your legs to the left side until side of thigh is on floor (A), keeping your feet together, raise your legs so your feet are pointing to the ceiling (B) then lower them straight down to the floor in front of you, stop with your heels about 6 inches from the floor (C). Bring the legs back to vertical then, lower legs to the right side until the side of your thigh hits the floor (D); bring them back to vertical to complete one full repetition.
Looking for a progression to make this move a little more challenging? Add a medicine ball and hold it between your knees as you execute the movement. Do you have difficulty holding your legs vertical or perhaps you’re looking for a modification that will help you focus more on the obliques and the rotational movement only? The lying twist can be performed with your legs up against a wall, your legs making an arc along the wall as you raise and lower them from side to side. Lie on your back with your glutes at the base of the wall, your legs straight up, feet in dorsiflexion (toes point down towards your head). Spread your arms out to either side, lower your legs to one side, then raise and lower them to the other and repeat. The wall