How do I Choose the Best Ab Workout?

M.C. Huguelet

Choosing the best ab workout for you depends upon your preferred exercise style as well as the type of facilities and equipment you have access to. If you like to work out in your own home, you might try moves that can be performed without any special equipment, such as the bicycle crunch. Should you prefer exercising in a group setting under the supervision of an instructor, you might consider enrolling in core-strengthening Pilates classes. If you enjoy going to the gym but like to direct your own workout, you can choose moves that utilize the gym’s fitness equipment, such as the captain’s chair lift.

Bicycle crunches may help an individual achieve six-pack abs.
Bicycle crunches may help an individual achieve six-pack abs.

To perform the bicycle crunch, lay on the floor with your knees bent and your fingers loosely joined behind your head. Lift your shoulders off the floor, taking care not to strain your neck, while simultaneously drawing your knees in toward your chest. Extend your right leg and twist your torso so your right elbow approaches your left knee. Next switch sides, drawing your right leg in while extending your left leg and twisting your torso to the right. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps, ensuring that your legs are making a smooth, controlled pedaling motion and that your neck remains relaxed.

Core exercises focus on muscular endurance rather than power.
Core exercises focus on muscular endurance rather than power.

As core strengthening is the primary focus of Pilates, taking classes in the discipline can be an attractive option if you want a group-based ab workout. During a typical class, you may perform the plank, a movement that is simple yet engages the abdominal muscles as well as the back and shoulders. To perform this move, lie face down on the floor and then push up so that you are resting on your toes and forearms. Use your abdominal muscles to hold your entire body in a straight, plank-like line. You should aim to hold this pose for a minimum of 30 seconds, though your class instructor may encourage you to maintain it for longer periods.

The captain’s chair lift provides a challenging ab workout to those who wish to exercise at the gym without participating in classes. A captain’s chair is a piece of gym equipment that resembles a padded chair with no seat. To perform lifts, stand with your back against the chair and grasp the handles found at the end of the armrests. Use your abs to lift your legs away from the floor until you are in a sitting position and then lower them until your feet near the floor again. Aim for 15 to 20 repetitions, taking care to keep the movement slow and controlled.

While your chosen ab workout can tone and strengthen your core, it is important to remember that you may not see your muscles if they are covered by a significant amount of fat. Consider combining your workout routine with a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet. By reducing your body fat, you will better be able to see the results of your ab-tightening efforts.

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