Core Secrets Ab Assault

Gunnar Peterson
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Abs/Core , Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball

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This is a 20 minute ab routine in the Core Secrets series, which uses a stability ball and weights (I really tried to challenge myself and use 10# when possible, or 5# for the larger range of motion exercises). It’s already been well broken down by Dawn so I’m just going to add my opinions. This is my second DVD with Core Secrets (I bought a lot of 5 and am working through them) and I found it disappointing for most of the workout. The set is nice, music is the semi-recognizable stuff from 10MS/Gaiam Firm videos, and Gunnar may not be incredibly charismatic, but he has solid instruction, with no annoying tendencies.

I like the use of the ball and the functional exercises, which is why I invested in the set. However, Ab Assault only had a few functional exercises (standing wood chops, prone wood chops on the ball, and knee in in plank pose – all of which are great exercises) but the majority of the 20 minutes was spent on crunches. Crunches on the floor with the ball between the legs or legs resting on top of the ball (the same crunches he featured in Give Me 20), crunches while prone on the ball in what seemed like endless variations, then back to the floor for the SAME crunches he started with. In this day in age, crunches are nearly becoming obsolete (at the very least, debunked as the most effective ab workout). I was hoping for more plank variations (of which there’s a countless variety which you can do with the ball), or standing exercises, but 20 minutes of plank was not only boring and repetitive, but not even that effective. Today I woke up with DOMS in my upper abdominals, when I would have liked some DOMS in my lower abs and obliques.

I have so many other good short (10-20 minute) ab workouts, including 10 Minute Solution Quick Tummy Toners, Barry’s Bootcamp Abs (also uses stability ball), Kettleworx Fast Abs, 10MS Pilates on the Ball, etc., and Core Secrets Ab Assault just does NOT make the cut. Maybe this workout was good at the time it came out (2004) before more innovative and functional ab exercises became more mainstream, but it can’t compete with so many other workouts. Done as is, I would say this is a high beginner workout (I bumped it up to low intermediate using heavier poundage and squeezing in more reps than the cast did). Overall grade C- and not particularly recommended.

Instructor Comments:
This is my second workout DVD with Gunnar and I didn’t care for him in this one. He’s just so boring! He’s focused and businesslike, and as I mentioned doesn’t have any annoying tendencies, but he doesn’t particularly motivate me. I wouldn’t particularly buy his workouts again (although I don’t dislike him so much to avoid him like the plague if he comes out with something worthwhile). Overall: “Eh.”

Emily B.


This is a 21 minute stability ball ab routine led by Gunnar with a group of very fit ladies as background exercisers. Brooke is his co-lead in some of the Core Secrets workouts but in this one she shows some beginner modifications (not using dumbbells, etc) and is one of the background ladies. They work out in a nice open space. For this workout you will need one medium dumbbell and a stability ball. He moves along quickly and while it isnt rushed at all there is no wasted time inbetween exercises.

I like this workout. Its the only Core Secrets workout that I have really enjoyed (only tried a few others). I would rate it as a solid intermediate ab workout. None of the moves are really hard to get and there are no tough balancing moves on the ball. My abs are worked by the end of the workout but not screaming or really sore.

Some of the move are done on the ball and some are on the floor but incorporate the ball. Some of the moves include: a horizontal chop on the ball with a dumbbell, feet on the ball and do a crunch-then pull the ball in while doing a crunch, a ball pass move, one where you have your shins on the ball and pull the ball in as you crunch, a weighted crunch on the ball, among others.

I find this workout fun and effective and I rotate it through my rotation on a fairly regular basis.



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.

Lisa C


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:

WARM-UP 4.5min
good mornings
ball twists
static lunges
back/shoulder/chest stretch
flexor/hamstring stretch supported on ball

WORKOUT 14.5min
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
plank roll-ins
lying crunches with leg lift
side-lying upper crunch w/leg drag
brief stretch
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

roll-down stretch back
seated side stretch
forward roll
final stretch

TOTAL: 20.5min

Dawn P