5 Best Ab Exercises

Jeff Angel

There are so many ab exercises out there and it’s difficult to pinpoint which are the best. I tell my clients that all ab exercises are great and to remember that doing abdominal exercises will not reduce fat in the midsection. Abdominal exercises will help to increase strength in your core and also tighten up the midsection. However, body fat will not be burned off in the abdominal region by doing 1,000 crunches a day! Body fat reduction will occur when caloric intake is reduced and cardiovascular work is intensified. Ab exercises are not to be done every day. Your abs are just like any other muscle group, they need to rest and recover after a hard workout. The abdominal muscles need to repair and grow in order to become stronger after being broken down. Rest is the key. Abs should be trained 2 to 3 times per week. Nothing more! So if you are doing crunches, leg lifts, and planks every day, stop this routine now. Spend that time doing more high intensity cardio bouts and cutting back on food and/or alcohol intake.

Now, time for the list of the 5 best ab exercises that I believe are the best for strengthening and shaping the abdominal muscles. A written description of each exercise is not adequate enough to properly describe each exercise. Therefore, I’ve provided a YouTube video on our YouTube channel. You must see each exercise demonstrated properly in order for you to perfrom them properly. Some of these exercises may be advanced for some of you, so be sure to be cautious yet confident when doing them. Good Luck!

The List:

  1. Leg Lift with a ball exchange from hands to feet.
  2. The Pike
  3. BOSU Crunches (If you do not have a BOSU, purchase one. It is a must have in your home gym)
  4. Bicycle Crunch
  5. The Plank using a Fit-Ball

When performing these exercises, as with all exercises no matter what the muscle group, be sure to use slow and controlled motions and always go though a full range of motion. Always try to contract or “squeeze” the abdominal muscles tight when crunching up or doing a plank. Form is most important when performing any exercise, especially the abs. You don’t want to over strain the low back and have an injury sideline you from working out for a few weeks. If the exercise becomes too tiring and your form starts to break, you should stop that set and rest.

These are my favorite ab exercises to do. You’ll hear differently from other health professionals and fitness enthusiasts, as with any other subject. All ab exercises are good as long as you are actually doing them properly and consistently. Please remember the most important information here. Ab exercises will help to strengthen and shape your abdominal muscles. These exercises will not burn fat in the midsection. Increase your cardio intensity and step away from the dinner table in order to decrease your body fat. The combination of proper nutrition and daily exercise will help you to get the abs you want.

Core Strengthening Improves Balance and Posture

 

Core strengthening should be an integral part of everyone’s training regimen. Your core consists of several muscles coming together to support your spine and midsection. Those muscle groups include the rectus abdominis (abs), erector spinae (low back), internal and external obliques (on your sides), and transverse abdominis (the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals). Some experts also include the gluteus maximus/minimus (your rear end) pelvic floor muscles, and subscapcular stabilizers in the group of core muscles. All of the mentioned muscles come together to help you to do trunk rotations, lean forward and backward, and to maintain good posture. Your core is hard at work all day long, every day. Therefore, it is important to do weekly strengthening and stretching of these muscle groups.

Your core is directly related to your balance, strength, and power. So, you should be performing exercises that challenge these 3 components of physical fitness.  Strengthening your core will lead to better balance, posture, and stability. Having a strong core can lower your risk of injury and may help to reduce low back pain. Strong core muscles can help to improve athletic performance such as swinging a golf club, getting up on water skis, or keeping good balance while in-line skating. Core strengthening also helps to improve daily activities such as picking up your child, carrying groceries, or doing yard work.

In order to strengthen your core, you must do exercises that use the trunk of your body without support. Perform exercises seated on a fitness ball, standing or kneeling on a BOSU, standing on a balance disk, and standing on one leg. Performing a variety of planks and bridges will also help to improve your overall core strength.

I recommend two days a week of core strengthening exercises. You should also try to do your resistance training using a fitness ball and BOSU. For example, instead of using a bench for chest presses, lay down on a fitness ball and do dumbbell chest presses. Laying down on a bench does not engage your core. However, laying down on a ball makes you off balance which then requires your body to automatically engage your core in order to maintain balance. Another example is standing on one leg or standing on a balance disk while performing a basic biceps curl. You are required to maintain balance and strengthen your core while strengthening your biceps. Any exercise performed off balance will help to directly strengthen your core.

Do yourself a favor and work your core. Over time, with consistent training, you will see improvements in posture, balance, power, and overall strength. Remember, the core is the center of all you do so be sure not to neglect these muscles when you hit the gym.