The Best Ab Exercises to Build a Strong Core

Let me ask you a simple question, and be honest: do you do ab exercises?

In my experience I can safely say that 90% of the people that workout their abs at the gym are ladies.

I think that guys prefer to dedicate their time to other parts of the body and train the real muscle, but it's a wrong approach in my opinion.

Ab exercises

These are some easy ways to do ab exercises at home

Abs are very important because they are the core of our body. Without good abs it becomes dangerous to do other exercises, like squats and shoulder press for example.

If you lift heavy weights you need that stability that only your abs can give you.

When you perform those two exercises that I just mentioned you need to keep your abs very tight in order to do the right movements safely.

The core should always be strong and very well trained.

So if you want to start training your core and gain more stability when you workout the rest of your body, take a look at the best ab exercises that you can do:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch
  • Cross Body Crunch
  • Captain's Chair

With these exercises you can build ab muscles but they don't get you a flat belly. The secret for a flat belly is to do stomach vacuums!

#1 Exercise Ball Crunch

Despite what others might think, I found that the exercise ball crunch is the most effective of all the ab exercises.

Execution

Here is how to perform it:

  • Sit on the front of the ball so that it will allow you to lie down with your back on the ball
  • Keep your arms crossed on your chest (avoid holding behind your head)
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees 90 degrees
  • Lie down slowly inhaling, till you are in a horizontal position
  • Exhale during crunches
  • Stop before you reach the vertical position,
    keep the lower back always in contact with the ball surface (this will make sure that you don't relax your abs when you sit up and ensures lumbar support)

Tip: squeeze your abs when you come up, just before you go down again.

You have to feel your abs working for the whole duration of the exercise, you must feel the burn!

It's a very complete exercise because you need to watch your balance as well. This involves a full core workout, I call it the compound exercise for abs.

Variations

A common variation of this ab exercise is doing cross exercise ball crunches, which will help you focus on your obliques.

#2 Cross Body Crunch

This is very similar to the exercise ball crunches, but it's more an isolation exercise for abs rather than a core exercise.

Execution

  • Lie down flat you your back, on the floor or maybe on a softer surface
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees
  • Hands behind your head (for this exercise it's okay as you don't really put too much stress on your neck)
  • Curl up towards your knees (your lower back stays in contact with the floor). Left elbow towards right knee, then right elbow towards left knee
  • Exhale while you do this movement
  • Inhale while you go down again

Again, you should feel the burn you you should never relax your abs.

Variations

A valid variation of this exercise is doing it on a crunch board. The execution remains the same, only the angle is different and the lower abs are more involved.

#3 Captain's chair

Captain's chair is a rack with padded arms that allows your legs to hang free.

It's one of those ab exercises that you can do everywhere, every gym that I've seen had one, and it's usually used for dips when you workout triceps and lower chest.

Execution

The proper form, as you can easily imagine by now, is the usual:

  • Your back has to make full contact with the back rest
  • Your elbows on the padded arms will keep you in position
  • Start with your legs hanging straight down
  • Raise your legs and exhale
  • Bring your legs down while you inhale
  • It's important that you don't arch your back and don't swing your legs up taking advantage of the momentum
  • Do slow movements

Some people like to do this ab exercise without bending their knees as it appears harder and they have the feeling that they're working out more.

The truth is that your abs work the same, but you just work out your hip flexors more

Other Ab Exercises

Leg Raise/Hip Raise for Abs Workout

Dumbbell Side Bends for Oblique Abs

Stomach Vacuum for a Flat Belly

 

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