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Research Identifies The Best And Worst Exercises For Your Abs

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To get a flat stomach and defined abs, people do all sorts of exercises. The first thing you should know is that not all ab exercises are equal. While some of them can, indeed, help you get defined abs, others are not that effective. One thorough research has identified best and worst exercises for your abs and you just have to keep reading to find out what (not) to do.

Ab exercise research

Bearing in mind that people are tired of empty promises when it comes to abs exercises, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) sponsored a study whose primary objective was to analyze the best and worst exercises to define your abs and reach a body goal effectively. Peter Francis, Ph.D., at the San Diego State University and his colleagues carried out this research which included 30 healthy men and women aged between 20 and 45. Some participants were occasional exercisers while others did their workouts regularly.

For the purpose of the study, the participants had to perform different exercises such as modified crunches, traditional crunch, partial bodyweight exercises, as well as exercises using both home and gym exercise equipment. Using electromyography equipment, scientists were able to monitor the muscle activity during each exercise.

Francis and his colleagues wanted to compare the muscles activation and engagement in the most frequently performed abdominal exercises to determine whether there is such thing as a good or bad exercise for muscle building in the abdominal region. We are always led to believe that every exercise is effective, but it is not uncommon for people to work out regularly and still not experience any results. Another goal of the study was to analyse whether using ab equipment is more effective than “regular” exercises.

What did research show?

Results of this study confirmed the ACE’s opinion that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to get abs of steel. The non-profit organisation suggested that if people were willing to invest in equipment to strengthen their abs, it should be in a high-quality exercise ball which costs about $30, not some expensive machine. Why? The findings showed that top three abdominal exercises were the bicycle maneuver, the captain’s chair, and crunch on an exercise ball.

Despite the fact that a crunch on the exercise ball generates less activity in obliques and rectus abdominis than some other ab exercises, it also produces less activity on a person’s thighs, meaning this particular exercise targets abdominal muscles specifically, thus posing the best overall maneuver for stronger abs.

How to get stronger, defined abs?

Based on these findings, Dr. Francis and his colleagues recommend you should opt for several top rated ab exercises and do five-minute sessions of each on a daily basis. In case one of the exercises proves to be uncomfortable at first, you should try others or improve your fitness levels first. Opting for different exercises will, also, prevent boredom as you’ll always get the opportunity to mix things up a little bit.

The best overall ab exercises

  1. Bicycle Crunch Exercise
  2. Captain’s Chair Exercise
  3. Crunch on an Exercise Ball

Best to worst exercises for rectus abdominis

As mentioned above, the research included most frequently performed exercises for abs. Below, you can see how they scored with number 1 being the best and number 13 the worst exercise. Basically, the list moves from the best to the worst.

  1. Bicycle Crunch Exercise
  2. Captain’s Chair Exercise
  3. Ab Crunch on an Exercise Ball
  4. Vertical Leg Crunch
  5. Torso Track
  6. Long Arm Crunch
  7. Reverse Crunch
  8. Crunch with Heel Push
  9. Ab Roller
  10. Plank Exercise
  11. Traditional Abdominal Crunch
  12. Exercise tubing pull
  13. Ab Rocker

Best to worst exercises for obliques

The same rule applies here, the list moves from the best to the worst:

  1. Captain’s Chair Exercise
  2. Bicycle Crunch Exercise
  3. Reverse Crunch
  4. Plank (Hover) Exercise
  5. Vertical Leg Crunch
  6. Ab Crunch on Exercise Ball
  7. Torso Track
  8. Crunch with heel push
  9. Long Arm Crunch
  10. Ab Roller
  11. Traditional (Basic) Abdominal Crunch
  12. Exercise tubing Pull
  13. Ab Rocker

As you can see, the list doesn’t feature sit-ups which are thought to be the best ab exercise. In fact, sit-ups are one of the most dangerous ways of working your ab muscles due to high risk of injury and damage. Moreover, exercise equipment for abs didn’t rate too high as well as instead of wasting a fortune on these machines, focus on a stability ball and top rated exercises from these lists. Also, make sure you introduce different types of crunches into your routine, from regular to V-up forms or exercise.

Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.

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