The 5 Best Ab Exercises
Build a stronger, better looking midsection
A well-defined core not only looks impressive, whether you are on the bodybuilding stage or hitting the beach, but it also plays a crucial role in overall strength and stability, which makes it beneficial for strength sports such as powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. A strong midsection can transfer over to a lot of other exercises, especially the compound lifts such as the squat and deadlift. Whether you're aiming to rock a six-pack or simply want to enhance your core strength, incorporating effective ab workouts into your fitness routine is essential. In this article, we'll unveil the five best ab workouts that can help you sculpt and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Before diving into the workouts, it's important to remember that diet and consistency are key to achieving remarkable results. Pair these workouts with a balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise to maximize your progress, but we will discuss all of this .
Let's get started on the path to a stronger, more defined core.
The Best Ab Exercises
Now, let’s dive into our choices for the best ab exercises that you can do, whether your goals are strength or aesthetics.
Planks are a tried-and-true ab workout that require little to no equipment, and target multiple muscle groups in your core. Planks will engage the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and the obliques, making them a fantastic exercise for overall core strength and muscular development.
To perform a plank, start in a push-up position, resting your weight on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in a straight line, engage your core, and hold the position for as long as possible. As you progress, you can increase the duration. Planks not only strengthen your core but also improve posture and stability.
Bicycle crunches are a dynamic ab workout that require no equipment besides your bodyweight, and they specifically target the obliques, making them an excellent choice for achieving those coveted side abs that look like gills when you have low enough body fat.
To perform bicycle crunches, all you have to do is lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your legs lifted off the ground. Alternate bringing your right elbow and left knee together while extending your right leg out, and then switch sides, it is a simple motion. This twisting motion engages the obliques and rectus abdominis simultaneously, resulting in a powerful core workout.
Leg raises are a classic ab workout that primarily focuses on the lower abdominal muscles. They require no equipment and are one of the most simple movements that you can do when it comes to your ab routine.
Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides or under your hips for added support. Lift your legs off the ground while keeping them straight and lower them back down without letting them touch the floor. To intensify the exercise, you can raise your legs all the way to a vertical position. Leg raises are highly effective for building lower ab strength and definition.
Russian twists are an excellent workout for targeting the obliques and improving rotational core strength. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet elevated slightly off the ground. Lean back slightly, maintaining a straight back, and clasp your hands together in front of you. Twist your torso to the right, bringing your hands toward the floor beside your hip, then twist to the left. This twisting motion engages the oblique muscles and helps you develop a strong and defined waistline.
To make the movement even more complicated, you can grab a medicine ball, a plate, or even a dumbbell to hold while you complete it. This will add more resistance to your abdominal training.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises are an advanced version of the lying leg raises. This is an ab workout that targets both the lower and upper abdominals, as well as the hip flexors, so you can even do these before a leg day to stretch out.
You'll need access to a pull-up bar or a dedicated leg raise station. Hang from the bar with your legs extended and feet together. Raise your legs while keeping them straight until they are parallel to the ground, then lower them slowly. This exercise challenges your core strength and stability like no other and can help you achieve impressive results when performed correctly.
Like the Russian twists, you can add some resistance here. For example, you can hold a medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet while you do the leg raises to increase the intensity of the workout.
How Often Should I Train Abs?
Now, as with any muscle group, you will want to have a proper amount of time in between training sessions to allow the muscle to recover, especially abdominals. While they are utilized for a lot of basic movements and can take a little more of a beating than something like, let’s say your chest, you still do not want to train abdominals every day. Instead, if you are incorporating specific routines for your abdominal muscles, then training them every other day at the end of your workout will work just fine.
Importance of Abdominal Training
As stated above, training your abdominal muscles is not only beneficial for the physiques of bodybuilders, nor is it only for appearance. A strong core will transfer over to other lifts, especially compound lifts. Athletes such as Olympic weightlifters who are performing snatches and clean and jerks can benefit from a strong core. Also, powerlifters who perform the squat, bench, and deadlift could benefit from a strong core. But, obviously, bodybuilders can benefit from training their abdominals as well, considering that they also will be doing many different exercises that engage the core.
Abs are Made in the Kitchen
With all of that being said, you can train your abs as much as you want, but if you want them to show without flexing, you need to be low enough in body fat. That being said, you should focus on things like diet, and a proper cardio regimen to maintain your muscle mass while being low enough in body fat.
But, if you care more about strength rather than having your abs show, you can be a little more lenient with your dietary choices.
A strong core has long been the foundation of a healthy and fit body, whether your goal is strength or aesthetics. By incorporating these five best ab workouts into your fitness routine, you'll be well on your way to achieving a rock-solid core and improved overall well-being.
Remember that consistency and proper form are key to reaping the full benefits of these exercises. As you progress, you can increase the intensity and reps to continue challenging your core muscles.
So, whether you're a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, these ab workouts offer something for everyone on the path to a stronger, more defined midsection. Start incorporating them into your fitness routine today and watch your core transform into a source of strength and confidence.
Images courtesy of Instagram (@ryanjterry)