Best Ab Workouts – Beyond Sit-Ups

Sit-ups and crunches are typically considered among the best ab workouts as they are most effective at targeting your abdominal muscles. Your “six-pack” muscle, or rectus abdominis, is recruited as you lie on your back and curl forward at the waist. Because the sit-up and crunch isolate your abdominal muscles, they’re a quality exercise choice if you’re looking to develop strictly muscular tone. However, if you’re looking to thoroughly develop your entire collection of core muscles, which includes your abs, lower back, obliques, and the muscles surrounding your hips, you’ll want to also incorporate more complex exercises. Complex exercises will require surrounding muscles to become involved in order to maintain balance and handle the increased coordination demand.

Complex ab exercises will develop abdominal muscular tone, but will also improve strength, balance, stability and coordination in a manner that transfers more effectively to real-life movements. Complex exercises require your collection of core muscles to work together.

Here is a list of more complex ab exercises that you can incorporate into your training regimen to increase the intensity of your workouts:

Best Ab Workouts #1 – Side Plank for Repetitions

Side Plank

Lie on your side on a mat with your elbow placed directly under your shoulder. Rise up into a side plank position, creating a straight line throughout your torso and legs. Lower your hips slightly, without allowing them to touch the floor, and then lift them back up to starting position. Want to increase the intensity? Incorporate a BOSU ball. Perform the same side plank repetitions, but with your feet positioned atop a BOSU ball or step. This increases the amount of resistance your core muscles must overcome. Plus, the BOSU ball will incorporate an added element of instability.

Best Ab Workouts #2 – Downward Dog Mountain Climber

Downward Facing Dog is good for your abs

The Downward Dog Mountain Climber (great video!) takes the common yoga move and then adds a small element at the end. Begin in the traditional downward dog position, with your feet and hands flat on the floor and hips straight up in the air. Lower down into a front push-up position and then immediately bring one knee to your chest. Return that foot back to the floor and then bring the opposite knee to your chest before rising back up into a downward dog position.

Best Ab Workouts #3 – V-Sit with Dumbbell Pass

Sit on a mat and hold a single dumbbell. Recline back and, with your knees slightly bent, pick your feet up off the floor to get into a v-position. Keep your back straight as you hold this position, fighting to prevent your back from collapsing forward. Hold your arms out to the side with the dumbbell in one hand. While you continue to hold yourself in the v-position, bring your arms towards your center and hand the dumbbell to the opposite hand. Open your arms back out to the side and repeat.

Best Ab Workouts #4 – Plank to Push-up

Front Plank to Push Up

Begin in a front plank position, with your elbows directly under your shoulders. While maintaining a straight line throughout your legs and torso, lift up onto your hands, one at a time, so that you end up into a push-up position. Immediately lower back onto your elbows one arm at a time and repeat.

You don’t need to do a large number of repetitions of these exercises to see improvements. Complete five to 20 repetitions of each exercise, with the number of repetitions depending on when you become fatigued. Fit this workout in two to three days per week, with at least a day of rest in between.

Please remember that all abdominal and core exercises are effective for develop muscular strength and tone, as well for causing neuromuscular improvements such as improved balance and coordination. Even the best ab workouts are not effective, however, at decreasing body fat around the abdominal area. Fat loss is the result of a caloric deficit that comes from consuming fewer calories than burned over a period of times.

About The Author

Kim Nunley - Article AuthorKim Nunley has worked in the health and fitness field for over 10 years. She received her Master’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She has been a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, physical education instructor and athletic coach, and now works as a freelance writer. She also writes short and feature-length screenplays.

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GDev will continue our “Best Ab Workouts” series and post reciprocal links here as they appear in the future!

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