One of the probably most discussed aspects of working out is how to work your abdominal muscles. Today we are aware of hundreds of different ab exercises you can do with or without equipment. Any attempt to pick and choose the best one would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The situation becomes even more complicated with all the supplements and ab training exercising gadgets being marketed on television, all of which guarantee you extraordinary results almost without any effort. Don’t fall for that trap. There is only one approach that can truly guarantee you a firm six pack: hard and dedicated training and a good diet.
However, before starting your training, you should choose from the sea of ab exercises. Luckily, you won’t have to go looking too far away, because here we present you with the five best ab exercises, at least according to us. Our list includes exercises that are primarily done in a gym, but if you alter them slightly, you can do them with minimal equipment.
The Best Ab Exercises
Hanging Leg Hip Raise
For this exercise you need a pull-up bar. Hanging leg hip raise is a more effective variation the hanging leg raise. This exercise relies on static contraction of your abdominal muscles, by lifting your knees parallel to your waist, and a subsequent dynamical contraction of the abs by lifting your knees further up and taking them to your chest. To do the exercise you’ll have to stabilize your core muscles, because your body weight and legs function as a natural resistance.
Suspend your body by grabbing the bar firmly with both hands and allow your legs to hang above ground. Flex your hips to slowly lift your knees up to waist height. Make a slight pause to prepare yourself, and bring your knees in to your chest this time by flexing the waist. Make another pause in this position and bring the legs to the starting position.
If you find this exercise difficult, you can help yourself by using a captain’s chair, or starting from an incline position. If, on the other hand, you want to spice it up a bit hold a light dumbbell between your feet. However, don’t let this added resistance ruin the execution.
Incline Oblique Crunches
Just as the hanging leg hip raise, the incline oblique crunch also relies on the added resistance of your body weight in order to make it more efficient. This ab exercise involves two types of muscle contraction that will force you to tense your abdominals throughout the lift.
First you shorten the abs by lifting your torso, and lengthen them again by lowering the trunk. By performing the crunches on an inclined bench, the muscle contractions become more intense than when performed on a flat ground.
For this exercise lie on your back on an incline bench. Make sure that your feet are secured, and place both hands behind your head. Exhale and lift your torso up into a crunch. About halfway into the crunch, drive your right elbow towards your left knee. Make sure that you execute this move by twisting your abs and obliques, instead of just repositioning your arms so that your elbow can touch the knee. Return to starting position without making a pause.
Inhale and untwist your torso and lower it to the bench. Return to the starting position by untwisting and lowering your torso back on to the bench. Repeat the same move for the other side.
If you find this exercise difficult decrease the incline or lie down on the floor with your knees bent. If you want spice it up, increase the incline or add resistance. You can do this by holding a medicine ball, dumbbell, or weight plate at your chest or behind your head. You’ll find out that even a light weight can do a lot of difference.
Although seemingly very simple, bicycle crunches might be one of the best exercises for your abs. However, you should learn how to perform them correctly so that they can be more effective.
Begin by lying flat on the ground. Put your hands behind your head. Raise your legs bent at the knees, making the calves parallel to the floor and forming a right angle. Start the pedaling simulation by kicking your right leg forward and simultaneously bringing your left knee towards your chest. Make a crunch in the same manner as in the previous exercise, i.e. twist your torso up to bring your right elbow to the left knee.
Return to starting position and make a slight pause. Repeat the motion for the other side. It is essential that you are fully concentrated on your abdominals, and to making each movement slowly and in a controlled manner.
The plank is a fantastic exercise that relies on one static position where you keep your abdominals and back in a straight line while holding your body above the ground. This exercise puts at test your core strength and endurance more than any other exercise.
To perform the plank, lie flat on your stomach. Position your arms so that your forearms lie below the shoulders and are parallel to your legs. Lift your torso up by push off the ground with your hands. You should support all your weight on your forearms and toes. Make sure that your back and abs are in a perfectly straight line, and that your butt is neither raised nor lowered. Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds. Release, and repeat two more times.
If you find this exercise difficult, you can support yourself on your knees instead of your toes. If you want to make it more difficult use an exercise ball. You can either place your forearms on the ball with your toes on floor, or support your feet on the ball with your forearms on the ground.
Exercise Ball Jackknife
The Exercise Ball Jackknife is maybe one of the most demanding ab exercises. This balancing act requires a use of an exercise ball. Place both shins on the ball and support your body by placing your hands on the floor.
You should form a straight line with your back and abs. Then, slowly bring your knees into your chest rolling the ball closer towards your body, and crunch your abs. Make a pause. Slowly return to the initial position with by extending your legs. The movements involved in doing this exercise target your abdominals making them contract dynamically.
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At the same time your arms, chest, and shoulders are tensed as they stabilize your body. If you want to spice it up, you can support yourself on your toes instead of shins, or add a pushup.