I have tried and tested probably hundreds of abdominal exercises in the past few years, and without a doubt, for most of us, it is one of the toughest areas to improve on. In this case, you do need to work “from the inside out”, that is, building inner core strength with resistance before you can actually see results. Based on my experience, and some helpful suggestions from various written fitness publications, I have found that these specific exercises tend to be the best for an adequate core workout and ab-shredding routine:
1.) CABLE WOODCHOP- can be done with an upward, downward, or lateral movement. Great for the obliques, but also involves more full-body movement.
2.) SIDE CRUNCHES- best done with a stability ball, also great for the upper and lower obliques. Obliques are extremely important when training the abs.
3.) EXERCISE BALL WEIGHTED CRUNCHES- if you’re a beginner, try it without a weight a few times, but if you use a weight, make sure it is comfortable to be held beind your head, or on your chest for an easier exercise. The ball is necessary to allow full flexion of the whole abdominal region, make sure your butt is supported like so:
4.) BICYCLE CRUNCHES- done quickly and without equipment, I like to sometimes finish off a workout with 2 or 3 sets of 20-25 per side. Beginners, try 2 sets of 10 per side (lifting each elbow and knee once counts as one rep).
5.) REVERSE CRUNCHES- If you are intermediate-advanced, place a medicine ball between your knees. You can also do this off the end of a bench, or whatever causes you to actually feel the tension in your lower abs.
6.) LEG RAISES- This exercise is a little tougher, but one of the best for the stubborn lower ab region. You can do this off the edge of a bench while sitting, also, for a less intense version.
7.) STABILITY BALL ROLL OUTS- This takes arm strength and balance as well as your core; a fairly intense exercise, but very effective and simple.
8.) SWISS BALL PIKES- somewhat difficult, requires balance, but also extremely effective. (If you just want to see how it’s done, start watching this video at roughly 1:37)
9.) FORWARD LUNGES- best incorporated with other exercises of any kind, these are basic and require no equipment, unless you want to hold light dumbells down by your sides. They are inner-core strengthening, and also work your glutes, hips, and thighs.
10.) SWIMMING- the only form of cardio that actually targets the abs, as long as you kick outwardly. Running, ellipticals, biking, treadmills…all of these are moreso targeting the hip flexors, but any kind of moderate-intense, regular CARDIO will help expose abs once you build them up by burning fat, if this is what you’re going for.
Hopefully, these will help you who are seeking ab-specific training. They are only going to be truly successful when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, such as your diest and stress levels, and willingness to exercise regularly. Enjoy.