In the early days of my fitness business, I taught a bootcamp fitness class… And I regretfully admit to doing crunches in that class.
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 Ive 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 Ab Exercises
1. Planks. 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.
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.
5. L-Sit. 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 parallettes), 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.