What is the Best Ab Workout?

side planks

A flat stomach is the single most sought after body feature in our culture. There are thousands of products and equipment that promise to give you that six-pack look, but do they really work? What exercises are the best for building a strong, sexy core?

I’m going to give you my three guidelines for the perfect ab workout, and then I’ll outline one of my own favorite core circuits.

 

A good ab workout should…

1. Incorporate twisting motions.

Ab exercises that use a twisting motion can engage many of the core muscle groups simultaneously. Twisting is especially important for athletes or anyone looking to maximize performance and prevent injury.

Examples of core exercises that use a twisting motion: Russian Twists, Swiss Windshield Wipers

 

A good ab workout should…

2. Work all of the four major muscle groups in your core.rectus abdominis

Rectus Abdominis – This is the large flat sheet of muscles located down the front of your abdomen. It’s what most people picture when they think of “abs” and is responsible for the six-pack look in fit individuals.

Examples of exercises that work the Rectus Abdominis: Weighted Toe Touches, Swiss Ball Pass

Transverse Abdominis – This strong stabilizing muscle runs from front to back through the abdomen, and it’s the muscle that allows you to suck in your stomach.

Examples of exercises that work the Transverse Abdominis: Front Plank, Stomach Vacuum

obliquesObliques – These are located on the sides of the abdomen, and they allow you to bend from side to side. Too much fat over the obliques produces the dreaded “love handles”.

Examples of exercises that work the Obliques: Off-Bench Oblique, Hip-Ups

Lower Back – These muscles are often neglected, but they are an essential part of a strong, stable core. Weakness in the lower back can lead to a number of nagging body pains.

Examples of exercises that work the Lower Back: Superman, Back Extension

 

A good ab workout should…

3. Work your muscles to exhaustion.

This is where most people go wrong with ab exercises. Just like any other workout, if it doesn’t feel very hard, it’s probably not working. Choose core exercises that make your muscles burn and leave you sore the next day. To increase the difficulty, do the exercise while holding a weight such as a medicine ball or dumbbell.

It may also be helpful to do each set “to failure” rather than a designated time or number of reps. For example, instead of doing 10 Swiss Rollouts, do as many as you can while maintaining good form. Instead of holding a front plank for 30 seconds, hold it as long as you possibly can! Your body will shake, your muscles will burn, and sweat may drip off your nose onto the mat, but your body will thank you later.

 

Use the three guidelines to create your own killer ab circuit. Here’s one of my favorites:

Exercise

Reps

Torture Twists

12

Superman

10

Twisting Knee Raises

12

Scissor Toe Touches

20

Repeat the circuit 3 times

 

 

What are your favorite ab exercises? Post a link in the comments and share the knowledge!
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2 Responses to What is the Best Ab Workout?

  1. John DeGoey says:

    I workout frequently but I always found myself struggling to get my abs to that ‘next level’ – until I tried the ‘Ab Ripper X’ workout from P90X. I have been rotating it into my workout routines for about 6 months now and have seen great results. I do not own P90X but was able to learn the routine by searching online. See the links below.
    Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDTpo2soS8Q
    Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olmDbxiEHII

    • IsaacOdim says:

      What I like most about those sequences is that they go from one exercise to the next without much break in between. That’ll definitely get those muscles burning.

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