The abs makeup the core of your entire body and it is SUPER important to train these muscles. As with any muscle, the best way to train it is through exercise. What are the best exercises to build abdominal muscle. Well, I have a list of my 25 best ab exercises that I’ll share with you in just a moment, but before we take a look at that, let’s look at
Why train your abs? From a functional perspective, the muscles of the stomach are involved in the mechanics of so many of the body’s movements. Whether you’re getting out of bedding in the morning, dashing through the finish of a 100-meter sprint, swimming a 50-meter freestyle, throwing a punch as hard as you can, or even making sweet passionate love to some Brazilian Beauty… who doesn’t call back the next day…you leave messages, and she still doesn’t…sorry. Needless to say, just as the abs are the core of the body, they should be one of the core foci of a good training program.
Some may argue that crunches and situps don’t get you a six-pack. To the dissenters I say bullsh*t! I do agree that cardio is the way to go if you’re trying to lose body fat, but a person with low body fat (10% or less) who never trains his or her stomach (who may have little abdominal muscle tone) won’t have the same ripped look as a person at the same body fat levels with peak muscle tone.
How do you improve the muscle tone of your abs? There are literally hundreds of different exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your stomach. The best exercises cause your stomach muscles to tighten and tense as much as they possibly can.
Keeping in mind that the muscles in the abdomen aren’t just one large slab of muscle, but several groups working in unison, is crucial. Certain exercises will work all of muscles of the stomach, while others will pinpoint one of the zones of your abs: lower abs, upper abs, or side abs.
The Upper Abs: Where the muscles of the six pack (rectus abdominus) begin and quite possibly the region of the stomach that responds most readily to adominal exercise.
The Lower Abs:
Let’s look at a list of 25 of my favorite abdominal exercises that help my ab muscles to get just the kind of contractions I’m looking for:
1. Basic Situp- Sit with knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Interlock your hands behind your head. Slowly lower your upper torso until your shoulder blades lightly touch the floor (keep your back straight). Sit up to to get back to the starting position. Repeat.
2. Basic Crunch- Lay on the floor with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Or your can lift your knees in the air so that they make a 90 degree angle with the floor. Lift your shoulder blades off of the floor while contracting your abs as tight as you can. Lower your shoulder blades back to the starting position. Repeat. The crunch has a much shorter range of motion than the situp, but really does a great job of targeting the rectus abdominus muscles.
3. Twisting Situp- Use the same position that we used fro the situp, interlocking your fingers behind your head. When you situp though, twist your body so that your right elbow touches your left knee. Lower your shoulder blades to the floor again. Situp again, this time touching your left elbow to your right knee. Alternate each time you come up.
4. Jacknife- Looks like a V-situp, where the legs and arms both come up simultaneously.
5. Myostatic Crunch- If you’re not familiar with this one. It’s a very slow type of crunch with your hands over your head. Because there is a ball, or Bossa Ball, or towel resting underneath your back you’re abs stretch during the rest phase of the exercise.
6. Elbows and Toes- This is my name for that static exercise where your weight rests on your elbows and toes as you keep your back straight and your core stiff.
7. Sitting Knee Ups- Sitting in a chair, holding the sides of the chair for support, your slowly raise your knees towards your chin.
8. Six Inch Holds- You lay on the floor and raise your heels six inches of the floor and hold them there.
9. Hanging Leg Raise- I like using arm slings for this but using your hands give you a better stretch.
10. Reverse Crunch- You lie down on the floor with your hands at your sides. You pull your legs and toes in the direction of your head. Some people use the bent-knee version of this, but I like doing the straight leg version of these.
11. Anti-G Situp- If you have access to Anti-G Boots and a Bar…this one is a killer ab exercise. Definitely an advanced maneuver, but Sooo worth it.
12. Frog Crunch- A variation of the crunch with your knees flared out to the sides.
13. HOH (Hands Over Head) Crunch- Another crunch variation where your feet stay in contact with the floor, and your keep your hands outstretched above your head.
14. Wood Choppers- I you have cables. you raise the pulley to it’s highest level, grab the handle with a tennis-like grip. Twist as you bring draw the cable down towards the direction of your outside foot, like you’re trying to chop a piece of wood on the floor.
15. Side Situp- There are many variations of these. I like to lay on my side, and have my legs look like I’m in a kneeling position. I put one hand behind my head and focus on crunching my body as hard as I can right in the middle. Good exercise to tone away love handles.
16. Side Knee Bends I know the explanation is going to sound a bit funny but here it goes. You rest your weight and balance yourself on one butt cheek. Use one hand to also provide balance and support (if you use your right cheek, support yourself with your right hand and vice versa). Extend your legs out without letting them touch the floor. Lean your torso closer to floor without actually touch it. Come back to the starting position.
17. Trunk Twists (knees bent)- Lay on the floor with your arms at your sides. Bring your knees up like you would if your were doing crunches (but keep your arms where they are). Lower your knees to one side, and then to the other. It’s like a metronome motion where your knees are the “tick tock” piece.
18. Trunk Twists (straight legs)-A variation of the previous exercise keeping your legs straight.
19. Hanging Side Knee Bends-These are like hanging knee-ups but your body is turned to one side. Great for oblique and intercostal muscles.
20. The Ab Roll- If you have any type of wheel with handles or a dumbbell with weights on it. You kneel down on both knees, grab the bar or handles and roll yourself forward. Don’t let your stomach touch the floor, though. Return to the starting position.
ADVANCED AB EXERCISES
21. Flags- Honestly these are tough to do. They rank right up there with some of the most difficult stomach exercise you can do. What are they. It’s like a leg raise only you’re using your entire body as resistance supported only by your shoulder blades.
22. Check out Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV if you need to see a good example (the training montage before he fights Ivan Drago).
23. L-Seat- A gymnastics exercise where you push off of the floor with your hands, and keep your legs parallel to the floor without touching the floor.
24. Flares- Tough! Another gymnastics exercise that I’m not going to even try to explain. But it looks like a breakdance move.
25. Back Handspring- A backflip with hands.
Back Tuck- A backflip with no hands.
PLEASE NOTE: TECHNIQUE MATTERS!! The harder your work these exercises, the more effective they will be.
ALSO NOTE: With the gymnastics type of techniques (namely the flipping techniques) with out a qualified spotter, or a professional who can show you how to to them.