This is a 20min ab workout that's an add-on to the Core Secrets kit. It uses the stability ball and a set of dumbbells to add intensity. It's a solid high-intermediate ab workout with a big variety of unique core moves and weighted ab exercises that I found challenging. It sure beats the same old crunches! Good music, good instruction, some fun moves, some tough ones and a little humor make this workout a keeper.
Ab Assault is filmed on a bright studio set with big windows and art deco walls. Gunnar coaches Brooke Burke and four gals who all use the silver 65cm Core Secrets stability ball and 5-8lb dumbbells. I found a 55cm ball works fine. Michelle shows modifications for beginners (no added weight, less range of motion) There is "less window" showing than the Accelerated Core Training workout but I was able to see the hillscape through the window - and it's Hollywood with the white Hollywood hillside sign!
The music in the workout is louder and it's jazzy pop instrumental (by Daveed). Interestingly, this workout is close-captioned which some might find useful for following the workout.
It's got a 4min warm-up, 14.5min ab workout and 1.5min cool-down. Gunnar demonstrates the first rep and then everyone joins him for 10 reps. There's at least 24 different exercises in this workout. I noticed that the camera features a lot of shots of Brooke Burke performing the moves. I wish she had rehearsed the moves a little better, it's a bit stilted when the camera is on her and she is waiting for every cue from Gunnar.
Gunnar is straight-forward, cues and motivates and he adds some humor in this workout especially as he nears the end. Some will find him a bit dry. I have absolutely no idea how he continues to breath normally and cue consistently during some of the tough moves, I can barely breathe! During some tough side crunches he says things like: "Do this workout like you mean it, I don't want you to phone it in". At the end when he repeats the first exercise from the routine he says: "Everything comes full circle, that's a little ball philosophy." During the last reps he jokes "you should see a light at the end of the tunnel, it may be an oncoming train". But there's no whooping and I couldn't hear any of the groaning or "uh-ohs" from the cast as described on the close-captioning (!).
All in all a fun & challenging intermed-adv ab workout that I will use often.
The breakdown is below. Every single move uses the ball, typically Gunnar does 10 reps, sometimes more:
flexor/hamstring stretch supported on ball
weighted crunch w/legs on ball
upper/lower weighted crunch w/ball drag
weighted crunch on ball
rotating weighted crunches
seated weighted side reaches
lying weighted crunch/thrusts
angled weighted crunch/thrusts
lying crunches with leg lift
side-lying upper crunch w/leg drag
hand-to-foot ball pass
"penguins" side reaches w/legs on ball
butterfly crunch with feet propped on ball
ball crunch w/legs on ball
COOL-DOWN STRETCH 1.5min
roll-down stretch back
seated side stretch
This is a very nice stability ball ab workout. I would agree with Dawn's review and that it is high-intermediate in intensity. I may have not found it challenging enough if it didn't incorporate the use of weights. It is the weights that make this workout unique for me. The weights are used by holding them at your collarbone and using them during crunches, which definitely makes them more intense and effective. You also use them during seated side-stretches and a few other moves involving large movements with the weight overhead while you sit up or do a crunch to the side. This really works your core. Not every move uses weights, and you don't need them if you don't want to use them, it just makes this more effective.
This workout is a little more time efficient than some of the other Core Secret workouts. Gunnar spends less time explaining the moves, which I appreciate.
One thing I find a little strange is that he includes a lot of stretching in the warm-up and not much when you are done. I actually don't mind this, because I have been using this workout after an outdoor cardio workout, so it works out perfect for me to get some stretching in then. I just found it different that he included lower body stretches in an ab workout. The workout is chaptered (although not on every exercise) so you can skip the warm-up if you don't want to do it.
I enjoy Gunnar in this workout, as I do all the other Core Secrets workouts. He is slightly entertaining (without being too much) and gives good encouragement and form pointers usually.