Who does not want a rock hard 6-pack? However, the abdominals can be a very tricky set of muscles to train. Besides, there are so many mis-informations about the best and worst ab exercises. According to researches, people who spend more time sitting develop weaker lower abdominals. This indicates that the abdominal wall below the navel particularly the internal oblique muscles and transversus abdominis – is under-active, giving an unsightly soft, pouchy underbelly below the belt-line.
For those willing to put a little effort into their workout, a new study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) "the workout watchdog" reveals the best and worst methods for getting definite results.
Best exercises to work your abs
Overall, the top three abdominal exercises are bicycle maneuver, captain's chair and crunch on exercise ball. Here’s how to do them.
Do the bicycle crunch
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and contract your core muscles.
- With your hands gently holding your head, lift your knees to about a 45-degree angle.
- Slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion.
- Alternately touching your elbows to the opposite knees as you twist back and forth.
- Breathe evenly throughout the exercise.
How to do the captain's chair exercise
- Start with legs dangling and slowly lift your knees in toward your chest.
- The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring your knees up and return them back to the starting position.
Crunch on an exercise ball
- Sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor.
- Let the ball roll back slowly and lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor.
- Contract your abdominals raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees.
- To work the oblique muscles, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together
This brings us to the worst exercises for your abs. According to the researchers, although crunches on an exercise ball generated less activity in the obliques and rectus abdominus than some of the other exercises, the exercise also generated significantly less activity in the thigh muscle, making it more targeted to the abs and the best overall exercise.
Worst Exercises for Abs
The study found traditional crunch, exercise tubing pull, and Ab Rocker to be the least effective exercises for working your abs.
Of the three pieces of informercial equipment tested, the Torso Track faired better than the Ab Rocker. The Torso Track was only marginally more effective than the traditional crunch. However, a significant number of subjects reported lower-back discomfort while using the Torso Track. The Ab Roller was no more effective than the traditional crunch, while the Ab Rocker was up to 80% less effective. These results are consistent with ACE's 1997 study of popular ab exercise products.
Excessive upper abdominal exercising bears down on the pelvic floor, stretching it and weakening it, and making it less competent in its roles of both sphincter control and dynamic abdominal support. A weaker pelvic floor can also lead to prolapse.
For best results, choose several of the top-rated exercises and doing a five minute exercise session daily. If one exercise is uncomfortable, try others until you come up with a variety that meet your needs. This will help train different areas of the muscle and prevent boredom.
No matter which method you select, strengthening the abs is essential for preventing injuries, maintaining good posture, alleviating lower back pain, and improving performance in other athletic pursuits.
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