There’s really only a few exercises that you need in your repertoire.
Once you know the most effective ones, it’s a matter of choosing just 2-4 exercises and doing them on a regular basis.
If you don’t think you need to train abs, then you haven’t read my previous blog post, Everyone Has Abs – Not Really!. Be sure to read that if you haven’t already.
A lot of people say that you have the workout your upper abs, your lower abs, your middle abs, and your obliques or the sides of your abdominal wall to build up some nice abs. But the reality is is that you only need a few core ab exercises in order to get that nice 6 pack or 8 pack abs that you’ve been looking for.
The most basic exercises for abs will hit your entire ab region…
…upper, lower and middle abs.
So you don’t have to think or worry about your upper abs not getting worked out or your lower abs not getting worked out, they’re going to get worked out using the below exercises.
So let’s get to it!
What are the core, the basic and most effective exercises for abs?
The plank isn’t much of an ab builder as it’s more of stabilizer exercise. Don’t get me wrong, it does stimulate the ab muscles but just not as effective as the other exercises listed below.
I’d throw in a set or 2 of these at the end of an ab workout just to further fatigue and strengthen your core.
To initiate the plank, lay down on your stomach with your face facing the floor. Pick yourself up using only your forearms, elbows and toes as see in the picture above. Make sure your whole body is as straight as can be while tightening your abs.
You can hold this position for 60 seconds. If that’s too hard, go for 30 seconds and work your way up. Once 60 seconds is too easy, increase the time to 2 minutes. No need to go over 3 minutes or so.
The decline sit up is one of my favorite exercises for abs. You can really feel and workout your abs from top to bottom.
If you want to build up your abs, you have to include this in your training routine. Once you’ve “mastered” this exercise, which doesn’t take too long for it to be too difficult for you, you can hold a weight plate or dumbbell on your chest to add some resistance.
You have to be careful if you’re adding weight, because you can build up some rock hard, skin-popping ab muscles : )
To initiate the decline sit up, find an adjustable bench or one that’s already in the decline position. Simply sit on the bench with your body facing the ceiling. Bend your knees a bit and move your upper body down and then up. That’s one rep of a decline sit up.
A lot of people don’t work out their abs using this exercise because they’re using more hip flexors. They’re not feeling it in their abs. So play around with this exercise to see the range of motion that keeps the tension on your abs. Sometimes a smaller range of motion is what’s needed to keep the tension on the abs.
If you don’t feel it, then you’re not working it out!
The hanging leg raise is in the top 5 of exercises for abs.
It targets your upper, lower and middle abs. I’ve also found that not a lot of people can do this exercise for one reason or another. The main reason I’ve found is that with this exercise, you really have to stabilize your entire body otherwise you start swinging back and forth and won’t get a good ab workout in.
If you start swinging back and forth, skip this exercise for awhile and replace it with the captains chair leg raise until you get stronger.
To initiate the hanging leg raise, find a pull up bar or any kind of bar that you can hang on. Grab the bar, jumping up if you need to. You can either be in a dead hang position where you’re just hanging on the bar or you can pull up to where your head hits the bar to get more of a workout with your upper body. With this your shoulders and back will be contracted so I only recommend this for non beginners. Then with your knees bent, bring it up towards your chest.
To also make it more challenging and to get a much more effective ab workout, try straightening your legs out and bringing it all the way up to the bar.
- Captains Chair Leg Raise
The captains chair leg raise is another of the best exercises for abs and is similar to the hanging leg raise above.
The only difference I would say is that you really don’t have to stabilize your entire body as you have a back support, making it an easier exercise.
If you find that the hanging leg raise above is too difficult for you right now, this makes for a great alternative.
To start with, try and raise your legs while they’re straight. If you can’t do this, simply bend your knees as seen in the picture above. 10-15 reps of these will get your abs burning.
We save the best for last, the cable crunch. This IS my favorite ab builder.
The resistance that you can add to this machine makes it one of the best, if not the best, exercises for abs.
If you only do one exercise for abs, let this be the one. The key with this is that overtime, you want to continually add more weight and do more reps to build those rock hard abs you’ve been wanting.
Once you’ve got the abs that you want and you got them looking how you want, simply stay with the same weight and reps to maintain.
To initiate the cable crunch, find a cable machine with the rope attachment. Ask for help if you need it! Put some weight on it. Start light and see what you can handle for around 10-15 reps. Get on your knees, grab the rope attachment right around your head and keep it there. Then crunch and slowly go back up.
During this whole movement, your hands and the rope attachment are not suppose to move. Let your abs and core do the moving.
Just 5 main exercises for abs.
Believe it or not, that’s all you need in order to build up a nice set of 6 pack abs or even 8 pack abs if you have the genetics for that.
That’s it! Get ready for an amazing ab workout.
In the next blog post, I’ll outline my own ab routine, what I do, how many reps, how many sets, how many times a week I train abs and the exercises for abs that I use.