Top Ten Most Effective Ab Exercise
Bicycle Exercise - 1. Lie face up on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head. 2. Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the ground without pulling on the neck. 3. Straighten the left leg out while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee. 4. Switch sides, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee. 5. Continue alternating sides in a 'pedaling' motion for 15-25 reps.
Captain's Chair Leg Raise - The captain's chair leg raise is the second most effective move for the rectus abdominis as well as the obliques. You can do a variety of exercises on the captain's chair, which is a rack with padded arms that allows your legs to hang free and can be found in most health clubs and gyms. The key to keeping this move safe and effective is, first, to avoid swinging the legs or using momentum to bring the legs up. Second, keeping the knees bent will help you focus more on the abdominals and less on the hip flexors. To do it right: 1. Stand on chair and grip handholds to stabilize your upper body. 2. Press your back against the pad and contract the abs to raise the legs and lift knees towards your chest. 3. Don't arch the back or swing the legs up. 4. Slowly lower back down and repeat 15- 25 reps.
Exercise Ball Crunch - The exercise ball crunch is an excellent exercise for targeting the rectus abdominis. To do the exercise crunch correctly: 1. Lie face-up with the exercise ball resting under your mid/lower back. 2. Cross your arms over the chest. 3.Lift your torso off the ball. 4. Pull the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips as you curl up. Note: keep the ball stable (i.e., you shouldn't roll). 5. Slowly in a controlled fashion lower your body back down, getting a stretch in the abs. Repeat for 15-25 reps.
Vertical Leg Crunch - The vertical leg crunch is another effective ab exercise that targets the rectus abdominis. The vertical leg crunch also works the obliques (side of the abs). To perform the vertical crunch correctly: 1. Lie face up on the floor and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed. 2. Contract the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor, as though reaching your chest towards your feet. 3. Keep the legs in a fixed position and imagine bringing your belly button towards your spine at the top of the movement. 4. Lower and repeat for 15-25 reps.
Torso Track - The Torso Track is a advanced ab exercise and should be done with extreme care otherwise an injury can occur. To perform the torso track correctly: 1. Grip the handles of the Torso Track and pull the abs in without holding your breath (as though bracing them). 2. Exhale and glide forward as far as you comfortably can while still feeling stable. Caution: If you collapse in the middle and feel it in your back, you've gone too far. 3. While contracting the abs pull your body back to the starting position. Repeat as many as you can and perform to failure.
Long Arm Crunch - The long arm crunch is an ab exercise that emphasizes the upper part of the abs. To perform the long arm crunch correctly: 1. Lie on the floor, bench or mat. 2. Extend the arms straight out behind the head with hands clasped, keeping the arms next to the ears. 3. While keeping the arms straight contract the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor. Note: If you feel neck pain, take one hand behind the head while keeping the other arm extended. 4. Lower and repeat for 15-25 reps.
Reverse Crunch - The reverse crunch is a great exercise that works the entire abdominal area. To perform the reverse crunch correctly: 1. Lie on the floor and place hands on the floor or behind the head. 2. With the feet together or crossed, Bring the knees in towards the chest until they're bent to 90 degrees. 3. Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling. 4. Lower and repeat for 15-25 reps. Important Note: the reverse crunch movement is a very small movement, so try to use your abs to lift your hips rather than swinging your legs and creating momentum.
Full Vertical Crunch - To perform the vertical crunch correctly: 1. Lie on your back and extend the legs up towards the ceiling. 2. Place hands behind your head (lightly cupping it, do NOT Grab behind the head). 3. Contract the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor, while simultaneously pressing your heels towards the ceiling. The goal is to create a 'u' shape with the torso. 4. Lower back to the starting position slowly while keeping a tight core. Repeat for 15-25 reps.
Ab Rocker - Although I am not a huge fan of ab machines, the ACE Study found the Ab Rocker to be #9 on the Top 10 Ab exercises. To perform the ab rocker ab exercise correctly: 1. Sit on the Ab Rocker and grab the bars in each hand. 2. Contract the abs and rock forward, originating the movement from the abs rather than using momentum. 3. Release and repeat for 1-3 sets of 15-25 reps. Note: the key to this exercise is to perform the ab movement slowly to reduce momentum and increase the tension on the abs. Another important tip is to focus on the abs and not use the arms.
Plank on Elbows and Toes - The plank exercise although ranked number 10 in the ACE study is a extremely effective exercise for building a strong core. The Plank on Elbow and Toes ab exercise is a great exercise that helps build a strong core, since besides working the abs the Plank on Elbows and Toes also works the back and several core stabilizer muscles. To perform the plank on Elbows and Toes correctly: 1. Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. 2. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. 3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. 4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air. 5. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat to failure.
About the Author Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, weight loss, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, fitness, and weight loss websites.