In the early days of my fitness business, I taught a boot camp fitness class… And I regretfully admit to doing crunches in that class. Here are the Best Exercises For Abs…
Exercises involving spinal flexion such as the crunch are not only placing the spine at risk of injury, but they are also unnecessary for developing strong abs. Since then I’ve realized there are much better exercises out there for your abs…
Just keep in mind when you’re doing ab work that strong abs serve two purposes…
- They give you a good looking stomach (who doesn’t want that) and…
- They’ll help you lift more on the big main lifts like the squat and deadlift.
Without further adieu here are my favorites…
Best Exercises For Abs
The key to making the plank work is to actively engage your muscles while you hold the position. While on your toes and forearms, concentrate on pulling your belly button towards your sternum and keep your glutes tight.
#2 Ab Wheel
I know it might look like a piece of junk you’d buy from a late night infomercial, but I’m a big fan of the ab wheel.
Keep your movement slow and deliberate and focus on using the greatest range of motion possible.
#3 Deadlifts and Squats. Ok, I know those are two exercises.
But the point is that the big compound movements, especially the deadlift and the squat, require and engagement of the core muscles that is unmatched by lesser exercises.
#4 Standing Overhead Movements
Hold a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbag, or slosh pipe overhead at arms length. Now walk as far as you can. Also try squatting or doing lunges while holding objects overhead for a killer core workout.
Whether done with the arms overhead in a hang position (like an L-sit pull-up), or with the hands below the hips (like on a pair of palettes), extending the legs away from the body and holding for as long as you can will put your mid section on fire!
#6 Sledge Hammer Swings
Not only is the sledge hammer swing great for a heart-cranking fat burning work out, it is also excellent for strengthening the core.
When making impact with a sledge hammer on an old tire or some soft earth, the core contracts sharply. And let’s face it, some days it just feels good to beat the crap out of something with a hammer!
You do not have to do a single crunch or sit up to get rock-solid abdominal muscles. Now getting lean so you can actually see those rock-solid abs. . . that’s a topic for an entire different article. That’s where your nutrition is going to come in – and I suggest you follow a plan like this…
What are some of your favorite ab exercises?
Do you still do crunches or sit ups?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Great post!!! I plan on using these regularly. Never gonna do a crucnh type exercise again. Hey for barbell squats can I just hold the barbell above my head because I can’t do it behind my head because I do not have a power rack.
The technique for the overhead squat is different than the standard back squat. Start with light weight and work your way up slowly. There is the obvious increased danger of dropping the weight on your head so be careful!
The lifts and exercises I hate the most are the ones I tackle with great fire and work for me the best. The 6 you laid out are torturous for me (I have a LARGE scar from Kidney removal back in ’88), but have given my shy abs a reason to show themselves over the last year.
Every time I start an ab workout, I think, “Tonight we dine in HELL!”.
“Tonight we dine in HELL!” Love it! Gotta stay motivated. 🙂
The Next 6:
1. Renegade Rows:
2. L-sit holds off a pullup bar
3. Weighted heavy full contact twist (done slow with heavy weight as opposed to explosively)
4. Side planks
5. Vaccuum holds
6. Inch Worms
Thanks Yavor! Renegade Rows and Inch Worms are my favorites of what you have listed. But they are all great! Thanks again.
These are GREAT! I’ve never tried the standard overhead movements but I’m gonna give them a shot. This is really right on time for me as I’m still shedding some holiday pounds off my midsection.
Oh yeah, overhead movements will get the job done. Overhead slosh pipe walks are probably my favorite.
I never full did the L sit-ups, but ill have to get those going as soon as im abled!
The overhead and tire swings definitely worked for me!
Thanks again for the great info.
The beast shall return! Looking forward to it; stay healthy.
I really like mountain climbers, regular and spider man version.
Also, I like to lie on my back and scissor my legs, one up in the air Perpendicular to the ground the other straight out 6″ off the ground. Hold each for a 3 count, then switch. Burns so good.
hey vic man been looking in an out of here because best most un to date site on this internet for fitness (doing fitness my self at college) just thought with the ab roller things might be worth telling ppl that can be done with a barbell 🙂
Thanks! Yes, a barbell will work for the ab roller. However keep in mind the the larger the circumference of the “wheel”, the easier the movement will be.
Toes to bar
Knees to elbows
3 sets of 10 should make most beg for mercy.
Yep, I use both of them myself. Although recently I’ve been pondering the issue of spinal flexion with those movements too. . . Haven’t come to a conclusion yet to be honest.
Hey Vic, great post (as usual)!
many thanks for the really useful info provided.
Further to Yavor Comment, regarding the side planks I would also add this one; really burns your obliques!!
I also find a good torture working with TRX
Keep it up man!!
Best regards from sunny Spain 🙂
Yeah man those dynamic side planks are bad ass
Thanks for the video link! I’m considering picking up a TRX myself soon.
Great post – I agree fully! Would you be interested in cross-posting this for the ladies on my blog?