6 Best Ab Exercises (Proven By Science)
Check out my client Marek’s transformation where he put on a whole bunch of Abs
So many different ab exercises are available for you to do but wouldn’t it be nice to know which ones are the best and which ones are the worst.
I mean after all, if we can focus on the best exercises then we can get faster development of our six-pack abs.
Luckily ACE also known as the American Council on Exercise conducted a study that tested out different ab movements and found which ones produced the best results.
I’ve been recommending certain ab exercises over others for a while
now and it’s nice to see that every one of the exercises that they said work best are ones that I’ve been advocating for quite a while.
This study was conducted several years ago but it’s a fairly in-depth study comparing 13 different exercises.
The researchers primarily looked at muscle stimulation and activity and ranked the exercises from best to worst.
So let’s jump right in with the top 6 best of the bests starting with number 6. The long arm crunch,
this is one that I talk about all the time, and I highly recommend that you try it with a weight.
The long arm crunch primarily focuses on working the rectus abdominus which is the muscle that most of us refer to as the six-pack.
You can do it without a weight but I recommend taking a moderately heavy weight load and pointing it straight to the ceiling.
I recommend using a heavyweight because another 2009 study published in the journal of physical therapy in sport found that using weights for your abs can greatly increase the stimulation of the rectus abdominus.
Also using weights for your ab exercises allows you to progressively overload your abs just by upping the weight over time which is a necessary factor for any of your muscles to grow.
So back to the long arm crunch you want to crunch up just enough to lift your shoulder blades up off the ground
and then come back down while keeping your arms pointed straight towards the ceiling the whole time.
It won’t take much to feel the burn from this exercise, but this is an exercise that I usually recommend doing a drop set with.
Meaning you would do ten to twenty reps of weighted long arm crunches and then immediately drop the weight
and perform twenty more reps with only your body weight and your hands stacked on top of each other.
If your wondering about the exact number of sets to do this exercise and the other exercises that I’m about to talk about stayed tuned
because at the end i’ll give you an excellent ab workout that includes these top 6 movements.
But moving on next up on the list ranking as the 5th best exercise for six-pack abs we have the ab rollout and the torso track.
These are both pretty much the same exercise except one is done with an ab wheel while the other one is done on a slippery track.
This is one that you probably won’t be doing with weights,
but by training yourself to roll out further over time you can gradually put more stress on your abs allowing you to progressively overload your abs over time.
To start this exercise get on all fours with your arms locked out the ab wheel directly under your chest.
As a beginner do not roll out all the way because you can hurt your back. Once you get comfortable as a beginner sit your hips back to give you some leverage.
Once you’re ready you can proceed to more advanced levels where you roll all the way out to the point where your body winds up being almost flat on the ground at the end of the movement.
This is one of my favorite ab exercises and not a lot of reps are needed to break down a lot of muscle tissue and get stronger.
Next, we have the vertical leg crunch,
but I usually refer to this exercise as the reverse crunch. Same exercise just different terminology.
To perform this exercise start with legs straight up towards the ceiling and your hands either folded across your chest or preferably behind the head.
Once again lift your shoulder blades up off the ground just enough and then lower back down.
This is once again another exercise that I recommend progressing with weights as soon as possible.
Once ready for a weight I recommend using a dumbbell and holding the dumbbell across your chest or putting the dumbbell behind your head to make it more intense.
The third best exercise for abs according to this study was crunched on an exercise ball.
When they say exercise ball they’re mostly referring to either a stability ball or a Bosu ball.
I have mentioned stability balls multiple times in other videos so I highly agree that using stability balls can help create more effective ab exercises.
Also to support this idea further there was a separate study done on the Bosu ball and the researchers found that the upper and lower abs
were both about 20 percent more active when an unstable surface like a Bosu ball was put under the lower back.
I firmly believe that it’s not only the fact that you’re working your stabilizer muscles more on unstable surfaces,
but also by putting a ball behind your lower back you get more range of motion and more negative contraction in the movement making it a more effective exercise
since the majority of muscle breakdown occurs during the negative portion of any movement.
I like the stability ball even more than the Bosu ball because its a more unstable surface.
To perform stability ball situps start by sitting on the stability ball and then roll out until the arch of your lower back is on the ball.
You don’t want to roll out too far because then your upper back will be resting on the ball and if you don’t roll out far enough you will fall off of the ball when you come down.
Once you find that happy medium lower yourself with your hands at the sides of your head and let your back bend around the ball to get full extension.
Then crunch up again just enough to lift your shoulder blades up. Make sure you’re not straightening your legs to help you up during this movement because then you won’t be isolating your abs.
This is another exercise that you can progress with weight either with your arms crossed over your chest or with the weight behind your head.
So now we’re down to the top 2 and the second most effective ab exercises out of the thirteen studied is the captain’s chair.
Another variation for this exercise that I mention all the time is known as the hanging leg raise or hanging knee tuck.
You can do the hanging knee tuck with a weight between your feet,
but I recommend that you spend a lot of time mastering this movement so you can do it correctly before moving up in weight.
The important thing to remember with hanging knee tucks and leg raises are that you want to try to bring your hips and knees into your chest.
It’s not just about raising your legs up and down because without the crunch motion in the torso you’ll just wind up working your hip flexors rather than your abs.
This is a very effective exercise not only for your lower abs but for your entire rectus abdominus in general……
So now finally the number one exercise in this study to my surprise actually was the bicycle sit up also referred to as the bicycle maneuver.
One advanced variation of this is an exercise that I call the navy seal situp and I use that one in my ab routine a lot.
But first, let’s start with a basic bicycle situp. Start with your hands behind your head and both of your feet above the ground.
Then bring your opposite elbow to the opposite knee as you lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
Then switch sides and bring the other elbow to the other knee and go back and forth for reps.
For the advanced version that i call the navy seal situp, you come up much higher during your situp before allowing your elbow and knee to meet,
then you lower all the way back down before coming back up for the other side.
You can also perform this exercise with weights at the sides of your head to make it even more difficult.
So those are the 6 most effective ab exercises according to the American council on exercise.
I wish they compared more ab exercises because I still believe that the most effective ab exercise is the weighted declined situp
because it involved the most range of motion and truly lets you develop maximal rectus abdominus strength and muscle breakdown.
Unfortunately, the declined situp along with a couple other great ab exercises was not included in this study.
If you’d like to see how to incorporate these and other great ab exercises into a quick
but very effective workout routine I linked up a video in the description below as well as at the end of this video that will give you a full workout routine that you can start tomorrow.
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My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first of 3 transformation studios in 2011. I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 3,000,000 subscribers! I can happily say that we've helped over 15,000 people get in great shape over the years. I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the video demonstrations of each:
3. Vertical Leg Crunch (reverse crunches)