Ab training programs are notoriously disappointing. Many claim to “hold the key” to washboard abs, yet are merely a jumble of the basic core exercises: Planks, crunches, and leg raises.
We all have our own vision for the “perfect” core program.
A mass-building machine.
Fat-shredding tactics to uncover that “mystery” six-pack.
Even slightly better posture, if there’s any left to spare!
In the world of ab-sculpting programs, the bar is absurdly low. But what about the (practically) brand new Athlean-X Core4 Ab Training System created by none other than Jeff Cavaliere?
Before you bite the bullet on yet another ab program, let’s find out if it’s worth it!
About the Creator – Athlean-X & Jeff Cavaliere
Athlean-X is to 2020 what Shaun T’s Insanity was to 2010. This now-mainstream fitness cohort launched in 2006 after Jeff Cavaliere left his post as a trainer with the New York Mets.
Cavaliere’s venture into the fitness community is hardly surprising, as he:
- Acted as strength coach and physical therapist for the New York Mets
- Personally coached MLB stars like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran
- Earned his CSCS with the NSCA (for anyone keeping track, this is no easy feat)
- Received both his Bachelor’s & Master’s in health-related fields
Jeff Cavaliere’s fitness career took several avenues that still thrive today, including an educational YouTube channel boasting over 11 million subscribers and the now-hit Athlean-X.
Athlean-X certainly deserves credit for its dozens of workout regimens tackling nearly any physique goal — from mass building and fat loss to athleticism and core strength.
Yet, Cavaliere’s now fighting to save his public reputation after internet sleuths discovered he might just be using fake weights in his video collections. The motive is unclear.
What is Athlean-X Core4?
Rest assured, Athlean-X Core4 isn’t your average core program.
Core4 infuses the anatomical and physiological approaches that Jeff Cavaliere is famous for (Translation: This program targets all four “zones” in the abs in the way they grow best).
This unprecedented Core4 program goes a step beyond Athlean-X’s oh-so-popular Six-Pack Shuffle and touts four ability levels to meet those of all strength levels where they are.
Over this 12-week, 3-phase ab-training program, you’ll:
- Work toward “shredded” status in all four zones (lower, upper/mid, obliques, and lumbar)
- Claw your way out of an ab plateau or famously stalled gains
- Improve your posture (feel and look confident!)
- Convert a stereotypically weak core into an area you’re proud to show off
This latest Athlean-X pet project works in one of two ways: Combined with another Athlean-X program (like Monster Maker or AX1 here) or completely standalone for finishing touches.
Athlean-X Core4 Details & Features
There’s a lot to unpack with the Athlean-X Core4 program, and in the name of integrity, Jeff Cavaliere shields months two and three from prying eyes who have yet to finish month one.
As we work through the details, most will focus on phase one (weeks 1-4).
Here’s as in-depth an overview as you’ll get:
For starters, this Athlean-X program only touches on the core muscles and four “zones.” To guarantee you have the time and equipment for this program, here’s a glimpse from afar:
- 4-6 ab workouts per week (slowly ease your way into the program)
- 6-15 minutes per workout (rest between sets is practically non-existent)
- 4 difficulty levels (starts kicking in around week three)
- Circuits, reps, and for time exercises (it varies between workout types and phases)
- Dumbbells, resistance bands, ab wheels, cable machines (you name it, Core4 has it)
In the perfect world, you’d have a home gym stocked full with one of everything. But a legitimate gym membership and non-peak attendance certainly ease some of the woes of Core4.
Like nearly every other Athlean-X routine, you won’t jump into Core4 feet-first. This program has three unique 4-week phases that gradually increase in intensity and training styles, like:
- Phase 1 (Classic Core): Centering your core training around old school ab tactics.
- Phase 2 (Combat Core): Shifting toward building explosive power in the core.
- Phase 3 (Championship Core): Completing the finishing touches on your six-pack.
One thing you won’t have to worry about with Core4 (and other Athlean-X programs) is boredom. Each workout is almost 100% unique to keep your core muscles guessing.
The Meal Plan
Athlean-X tends to be hit or miss on the meal plan front, and by that, we mean many programs don’t have an eating plan at all. You’re in luck here — Core4 has the classic Athlean-X diet.
Now, the Core4 program is almost a mirror image of other Athlean-X programs. That means three square meals a day, three daily snacks, and the option for “shred” or “size” swaps.
Looking to gain lean mass? Select the “size swap” option, and you’ll notice that your breakfast now includes protein powder, whole milk (instead of 2%), and almonds — for example.
Want a more shredded physique? Choose “shred swap” to turn your regular scrambled eggs (with whole eggs) into egg white scrambled eggs — for example.
A few other things you’ll notice:
- The meal plans change from day-to-day, so you never have to worry about eating the same three meals every day.
- There’s no emphasis on calories at all — eat until you’re full!
- At the bottom of the meal plan, you’ll find a legend that color-codes each ingredient (i.e., You’ll know you’re eating pickles for fibrous carbs or pumpkin seeds for healthy fats).
- Almost every plan recommends you take an Athlean-X supplement.
- The meal plan does consist of foods and ingredients that aren’t standard in pantries or refrigerators, so a trip to the grocery store is on the horizon.
What About the Workouts?
Without getting into too much detail, let’s do a quick dive into what a Core4 workout looks like and the types of exercises you’ll be doing.
(Remember: These are about phase 1.)
Your average Core4 workout can take a handful of forms, but most workouts seem to prioritize circuit training for more efficient ab work.
Week By Week
Week 1 is a simple program introduction with 54 reps per workout (3 exercises, 3×6 each). Each workout revolves around one area of the core (i.e., Glutes, adductors, folding rib cage).
By week 2, you’re ready to hop into the circuit training world with two rounds per workout. Over 60 seconds (or a predetermined number of reps), you’ll hit each zone with one exercise each.
It’s also the first time you’ll target different goals: Power, strength, and stability.
Weeks 3 and 4 take on the classic core training style you’ve tinkered with in the past. If you were wondering where those four ability levels begin to kick in … this is it!
These late-beginner workouts will lead you through all types of training styles — 1×8, 3-4 circuits (60 seconds per exercise), you name it.
Most workouts have “transitional rest periods.” In other words, make sure you have all equipment on-hand and ready to go, as the time to prepare is tight.
Types of Exercises
We have to admit: Core4 is lightyears beyond your average ab-sculpting program in terms of exercises. Rather than ample plank, leg raises, and crunch variation, Core4 has:
- Swan lifts
- Bird dogs
- Heels to the heavens
- Captain’s chair leg raises
- Tuck planks
- Core death march
- Recliner elbow-to-knee touch
- Ab wheel rollouts
Don’t let the names fool you on this one. Many of them are your standard core exercises (like V-ups or Supermans) made to sound more interesting with creative names.
4 Incredible Benefits of Core4
- An In-Module Timer: There’s no need to open up Google Timer or fiddle with your phone during a fast-paced workout. Just start the in-module timer (pre-set for each exercise), get ready during the five-second countdown, and get to work!
- Use With Other Programs: Being a specialization program, Core4 makes a fantastic partner to any other Athlean-X (or other) hypertrophy routine. If your core is lagging and you’re in a relentless game of “catch-up,” Core4 will fill in the gaps easily.
- Target All Areas: Jeff Cavaliere’s reputation might be on the decline, but the man certainly understands the biomechanics of exercise. Targeting all four “zones” of the abs will nurture all-around growth with a core you’re proud to show off again.
- For Everyone: Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or former athlete, Core4’s four-level system makes this an ab program for you. Ramp up the intensity once the gains kick in, or take it easy if you’re still recovering from your last workout.
3 Negatives of Core4
- Equipment Needs: Most gyms will have the equipment for all Core4 workouts, though many could be new to you. However, the “transitional rest periods” mean jumping from one piece of equipment to another at a rapid-fire pace, which is hard to do in a crowd.
- No “Instruxions”: Don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone. Nearly every Athlean-X program has “instruxions” that walk you through each workout and explain the purpose of each — It’s no deal-breaker, but Core4’s lack of directions can come off as confusing.
- Little Rest: The lack of legitimate rest periods between workouts can turn a 6-minute ab workout into an energy-draining monster. Muscular fatigue between exercises can possibly be a roadblock in terms of gains, reps, and strength.
Wrapping Up This Athlean-X Core4 Ab Training System Review
Athlean-X’s Core4 training program is the ab program you didn’t know you needed.
Let’s get one thing straight: If you’re trapped in a plateau or have finishing touches to sculpt, Core4 could be your right-hand man.
Core4 is versatile, an option regardless of your training experience, convenient, and targets the training principles that many programs staunchly overlook.
However, Core4 can pose problems, most notably equipment access, difficulty understanding the workouts, and a lack of rest between sets.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with Core4, though you may want to add your own twist to the workouts to help it fit your needs best.
Rating: 8.4 out of 10