woman fit abs

The Last Ab Exercise You Will Ever Need: Newt Roll-ups

Disclaimer: Perform this exercise at your own risk. Try this exercise without weight first. You should be able to easily perform 5 sets of 10 on this exercise at the steepest angle before you ever think about adding weight. If you feel unusual fatigue in your lower back, or your lower back HURTS while you are doing this exercise even without weight, you need some professional coaching to rectify that situation.

Okay. The title. It’s meant to be somewhat sarcastic. In our “6-pack Abs” obsessed United States of America, EVERY damned ab exercise is marketed as the best ab exercise EVERR. It’s pretty pathetic. I searched “abs” on Amazon just for fun and Amazon returned 144,451 results. Personally, the only thing I can think of that is more simple than getting “6-pack Abs” is getting huge biceps. SO SIMPLE. And so much confusion. Here is the bottom line about getting 6-pack abs: you will NEVER see your abs until you learn how to DIET PROPERLY. PERIOD. And don’t even get me started on a rant about all those “ab-exercisers” that you can buy off late night television infomercials… THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SPOT REDUCTION, PEOPLE!!!




But, let’s talk about Newt Roll-ups. YES… they are named after ME. How? Why?

Newt Roll-ups
Ab Roller, Ab Roller Crunch, AB Roller Evolution, they’re all the SAME thing! Doesn’t anyone else notice this?!? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here! I invented the Newt-Roll-up Ultimate Ab Exercise! I INVENTED IT! WHAT HAVE YOU INVENTED, DEREK?!? NOTHING! NOTHING!!! 


Seriously now though, this exercise didn’t have an official name because it’s a subtle, obscure, but very effective twist that I have been using for ab work since approximately 1991. Do you want to enjoy massive increases in abdominal strength and simultaneously drive up your squat and your deadlifts? This is the exercise that will get it done fast. This is one of my ex training partners, Ron, that you can see in the photos demonstrating the exercise at the beginning of this post (not the picture of Mugatu here). I took these exercise photos with my Apple iPhone. By the way, the Apple iPhone is one of the best things I have ever purchased in my whole life. And now that both AT&T AND Verizon offer the iPhone, you really have no good reason not to get one. The Apple iPhone is not a cellphone, it’s a Life Improvement Device. Yes, I made that up too. So, now that’s two things I’ve invented.


Back to Ron. Ron is strong. Real strong. Be like Ron. And he only weighs about 76 “kilos” (when you’re a hardcore lifter, you can refer to everything in “kilos” instead of pounds). And he can full squat while standing on a stability ball. Then again, so could my nephew Raymond by the time he was 14 – shown here in this video:

Before I disabled comments on youtube for this video, I got a lot of people hating on it. To those people I say, GFY. Trolls.
Ironically, although Ron is super strong AND he can squat on a stability ball, he is presently (this article was written in 2012) not so “comfortable” in the “hole” (rock bottom) on a regular, full, olympic squat (not standing on the ball). He and I have been discussing ways to iron out that problem. I told him, “About 7 months ago, I started aggressively loading my ab exercises again and the strength I gained from that has definitely “carried over” and improved my power and posture in the “hole” (bottom of the squat position)”. Specifically, I felt the ab exercise that helped me the most was this one:
How to Perform Newt-Rollups:

  1. Set up the decline bench to the steepest position.
  2. Grab a dumbbell.
  3. Get onto the decline bench with the dumbbell, hooking the feet on the roller pads.
  4. Position the dumbbell at about 2 inches above belly button level, and descend to the bottom of the sit-up. Your shoulder blades should just nick the bench pad in the bottom position.
  5. Begin sitting up.
  6. As you ascend back to the top position (“sitting up”), ROLL the dumbbell UP to your chin. Bring the dumbbell to the chin, not the chin to the dumbbell.
  7. ROLL the dumbbell back down to your lower sternum/upper abs as you descend back to the bottom.
  8. Nick the bench pad with your shoulder blades.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 for 10 reps or until failure, whichever comes first.


After explaining all this to Ron. I told him my official name for this exercise is Newt Roll-ups. A much shorter, and convenient way to reference this exercise than anything else I can think of, although “Rollie Dumbbell Ab Exercise on the Decline Bench” does really roll off the tongue…  And just to prove that I am not TOTALLY ego-centric, I also perform and recommend Simmons Extensions, Peterson Step-ups, and Klokov High Pulls to Duck-unders.

The sets/reps prescription is pretty simple. Perform your first set with a light dumbbell and do 10 reps. Rest about 1 minute. Increase the dumbbell weight and perform 10 reps again. Keep choosing a heavier dumbbell and repeating until you cannot complete 10 reps in strict form. Immediately get rid of the dumbbell and continue the sit-ups with just your bodyweight for 10-20 reps. You are now finished with Newt Roll-ups for today.

See you tomorrow.



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