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Usher's Workout Secrets

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Some things are meant to go together. Salt and vinegar. Gin and tonic. Global R&B stars and rock-solid bodies. Usher is proof of this. Since soaring to global fame on the back of his 13 million-selling album Confessions, the American music legend has been associated with great tunes and a muscular physique.
 
"Usher is a perfectionist. From his music to his body, everything has to be perfect and he is never happy with second best," says Cliff 'Hollywood' Boyce, the star's personal trainer. "He knows that being in the best possible shape is a lot more than just looking good, or being able to take your shirt off in a music video or on stage. It's about being fit and healthy, and above all, feeling good."

But that doesn't mean that getting ripped is easy. "When he's doing the extreme workouts I've created for him, he doesn't like them. But he definitely appreciates them afterwards," says Boyce. "To look as good as he does you need to put in the hours. He has his down moments, like everyone, but he stays fully committed and keeps his eyes on the prize. He is in it for the long term and living healthy is a lifestyle for him now. And it's this attitude that means he is true to his motto – 'always be camera ready'."

So if you want to carve a solid six-pack, start doing both of Boyce's take-no-prisoners circuits, below, every day.
 
Hammer through 20 reps of each move before moving on to the next. You need to repeat the first circuit 5 times, then do the same for the second. Rest for 10 seconds between sets and 2 minutes between circuits.
 
"We do circuit-style abs training because it keeps the muscles fired up and guessing what's next," says Boyce. "There's no room for predictability or stagnation when you're trying to sculpt your abs."

Circuit 1

Rounds 5  Reps 20 reps of each move

Abs bicycle

  • Lie on your back with your fingers on your temples and your knees bent at 90˚
  • Crunch up and rotate one elbow forward to meet the opposite knee
  • Repeat on the other side

Crunch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ground
  • Hold for a second and lower

Reverse crunch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Keep your feet together and contract your abs to lift your glutes off the floor
  • Lower back to the floor and repeat

Plank

30sec 

  • Get into a plank position on your hands and toes, with your body in a straight line from head to heels
  • Don't let your hips sag

Circuit 2

Rounds 5 Reps 20

Jackknife

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended
  • Contract your abs and keep your arms and legs straight as you lift them, until your hands are touching your shins

Back extension

  • Lie face down on the floor with your hands under your shoulders
  • Lift your hands, chest and feet off the floor simultaneously
  • Hold for a second before lowering

Hanging leg raise

  • Hang from a high bar or pull-up bar with an overhand grip
  • Keeping your legs straight, contract your abs to raise your feet until your legs are parallel to the floor

Upside down banana crunch

  • Lie flat on your stomach with your hands and feet off the floor
  • Roll over on to your side and then your back – without your arms or legs touching the floor – and reach up until your hands and feet touch

Joe Warner worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, from 2008 to 2013, then returned as editor of Men’s Fitness UK from 2016 to 2019.