Let’s face it; having to read about another ab workout program is like trying to get excited about going to the dentist. Both sometimes seem to be more of a chore than anything remotely fun.
And to make matters even worse, performing and maintaining a genuine abs routine is like buying new tires; not something you really like to spend your time or money on but you know deep down they will improve performance.
A necessary evil? Yes, but let’s change that!
Sure, diet is paramount when it comes to developing great abs for all to see, but you mustn’t forgo a solid and effective ab program to reap the maximum benefits from your efforts.
It’s time to stop throwing in a few sets of crunches at the end of a workout with empty hopes that one day your eight pack will suddenly reveal itself through pitiful focus.
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Benefits of Abdominal and Core Training
A solid core can be a key factor regarding strength providing improved balance and shoring up weak midsection stability during big lifts. Because of this, you should adhere to a sound and effective plan of attack to boost gains for not only vanity reasons but also increase performance residually through other lifts.
In short, a stronger core equals stronger squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Everything (power, strength, stability) is first derived from our core.
If this area gets its due attention we have no choice but to reap reward in its execution. A tight, strong midsection creates whole-body strength and who would pass that up?
Understanding the Core Musculature
The muscles of the abdominals comprise of several areas that flex, extend, twist and stabilize the trunk area. They sit on the front sides of the lower torso originating along the ribcage and attaching along the pelvis. Below is a quick look at each muscle and its function.
- Rectus Abdominus: This is the coveted “six-pack” muscle – although it has more than six heads. This muscle flexes the spine and brings the ribcage and pelvis closer together.
- Transverse Abdominus: This muscle is a deep muscle of the core which lies beneath the other muscles that is essential for trunk stability.
- Internal and External Obliques: These are diagonal muscles that work to rotate the torso and stabilize the abdomen.
10 Effective Abdominal Exercises
Below are ten key moves and their modifications to help you crunch, squeeze and pound your abs into tempered steel.
Leg raises can be performed on a flat bench, a decline bench or hanging. For the hanging version, begin with a straight leg and then as you tire, bend your knees to keep the set going for an intense burn. While hanging from a chinning bar raise up your legs as in the lying raises and stop when your legs are at parallel with the floor and return. For knee raises bring your knees into you abdominal region until they are past parallel and squeeze. Lower just short of perpendicular with the floor to keep tension on the region.
You can perform bicycles the traditional way by alternating sides or make it a bit more challenging by isolating one side and then switching over to the other. Just perform all reps for one side then switch and do the allotted number of reps for the other.
Once you reach a level of several sets of 30 seconds with the traditional plank it is time for a new challenge. Have a partner place a weight plate (one that is at first light enough to handle) on your upper back to add resistance. Just be sure to keep your entire body tight and don’t let the weight “bow” your body.
For the more advanced out there, try performing the dragon flag on a decline bench. This will take incredible strength and balance, but you will reap incredible benefits of more strength and stability once mastered.
Once you have the basic windshield wiper movement down it is time to up the intensity. Perform the movement as you would normally, but now place a small weighted medicine ball between your feet. It is a tough addition and requires serious strength and technique.
For more of a challenge, try switching from a side plank to a normal plank over to another side plank slowly. Be sure to keep the body aligned and perform the movement in a steady, deliberate motion sustaining good form and function.
If you find using a medicine ball or weight plate difficult with this movement simply clasp your hands in front of you and perform the exercise as usual. This will build up your strength quickly so you may graduate up to using weight in the near future.
The many forms of the crunch include performing them on a flex-ball, feet supported on a bench, and weighted by holding a small weight plate on your chest. You can also try weighted crunches by lying on the floor with your head toward a rope attachment on a low pulley and pull the weight up while you crunch. Be sure to hold the ends of the rope on either side of your head when performing this move.
In addition to performing traditional side crunches on a sit-up bench or on the floor, side crunches can also be performed on a Roman chair. Position yourself with your feet and hip contacting the bench while your upper body is suspended. Crunch your pelvis by twisting and bending your knees side-to-side.
Sit-ups can be modified using a decline bench and holding a weight plate on your chest with crossed arms. This addition can be a bit of a challenge, so try it with a weight you can handle first.
3 Ab Workouts For The Ultimate 8 Pack
Try one, two or all of the routines below for a complete ab workout in very little time. You can try one workout three times per week or use all three over a week.
Be sure to rest no more than 20 seconds between exercises and after supersets. Always perform proper technique while performing each move deliberately and under control.
Ab Workout: Routine #1
|Crunches on a Flex Ball||3||15|
|Hanging Leg Raises||3||15|
Ab Workout: Routine #2
|Side Crunches on Roman Chair||3||15|
|Low Pulley Crunches||3||15|
|3 Way Plank||3||20-30 Sec|
Ab Workout: Routine #3
|1a. Straight Leg Raises||3||10|
|1b. Bent Leg Raises||3||10|
|2a. Russian Twists||3||10 each side|
|2b. Floor Crunch||3||15|
|* AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible|