What are Some Abdominal Exercises?

J. Beam

For many people, the abdominal muscles are one of the most frequently targeted muscle groups and areas of the body, but can be the hardest to tone. Routinely performing good abdominal exercises will tone and strengthen this area over time, provided they are done properly and with regularity. Studies conducted to reveal the best abdominal exercises for toning and building core abdominal strength have revealed that certain variations of abdominal crunches are better than others. Try the following abdominal exercises to tone and strengthen abdominal muscles.

Bicycle crunches are effective abdominal exercises.
Bicycle crunches are effective abdominal exercises.

The bicycle-style abdominal crunch targets the abdominal muscles without undue stress on other body parts when performed properly. To perform this abdominal exercise lie flat on your back with your arms bent beside your head. Bring your legs up and bend your knees, bringing them up at a perpendicular angle to your torso through a series of repetitive bicycle pedaling motion. Raise your upper torso to alternately touch your left elbow to your right knee and your right elbow to your left knee.

People may use exercise balls to do stomach crunches.
People may use exercise balls to do stomach crunches.

In a similar exercise, lie flat on the floor, bringing your legs up to near perpendicular with your torso, but slightly bent at the knee. Raise your upper torso slightly in a series of repetitive crunches. You can also use an exercise ball positioned in the center of your lower torso, with your legs bent and feet apart to stabilize you. “Roll” your upper torso up away from the ball to achieve the same abdominal crunch. Remember to regulate your breathing when performing abdominal exercises, inhaling while moving into crunch position and exhaling moving out.

Sit-ups can be effective in engaging the body's abdominal and lower back muscles.
Sit-ups can be effective in engaging the body's abdominal and lower back muscles.

If you have access to a fitness center, have a personal trainer or workout instructor show you how to use the equipment that targets abdominal muscles. You may also be able to sign up for workout or dance classes that incorporate abdominal exercises into the routines. If you prefer to work out alone, consider asking one of your gym or fitness center’s personal trainers to demonstrate the proper way to perform abdominal exercises so that you can mimic the technique at home. Exercise videos are also available that demonstrate various abdominal exercises.

Remember that the key to strengthening and toning the abdominal muscles is regularity, repetition, and proper technique. Most abdominal strengthening exercises are low-impact on the rest of the body, making them appropriate for almost anyone to begin and work up to higher repetitions.

Exercises that work the abdominal muscles include bicycle-style crunch and other types of crunches.
Exercises that work the abdominal muscles include bicycle-style crunch and other types of crunches.

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