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What are the Most Effective Ab Exercises?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated May 17, 2024
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Regular abdominal crunches are effective ab exercises, but individuals can achieve better results with slight modifications, such as long-arm crunches. Other effective ab exercises include the vertical leg abdominal crunch and the bicycle exercise. Some moves require the use of additional equipment, such as the captain's chair and the ball crunch. These exercises are considered among some of the most effective for strengthening and sculpting abdominal muscles.

Regular crunches, in which an individual lies on his back and raises his upper torso off the floor, are the most basic of ab exercises. Long-arm crunches are considered a step up from regular crunches, as they increase the exercise's weight resistance by a significant amount. These are done in the same way as regular crunches, with the exception of arm position—arms should be fully extended, rather than crossed over the chest or behind the head. One hand should be crossed over the other to guarantee stability during the crunch.

Individuals who prefer even greater resistance can opt to do vertical leg abdominal crunches. Again, these are performed in the same way as regular crunches, except the legs should be positioned parallel to the floor. The position creates an imbalance in the exerciser's weight distribution on the floor, increasing the strain on the abdominal muscles. This workout also provides steady pressure on the lower abdominal muscles, making it one of the most effective ab exercises for sculpting the waist.

The bicycle exercise, while complicated in comparison to other ab workouts, is one of the most effective ab exercises done without the aid of equipment. The exercise targets all major muscle groups of the abdomen, making it a complete solution for individuals seeking six-pack abs. The exercise begins in normal crunch position. The exerciser should raise both his left shoulder and right knee towards each other, while fully extending the left leg at a 45-degree angle off the ground. The motion is then performed on the alternate side and repeated so that the exerciser appears to be pedaling a bicycle in the air.

Exercises that require the use of equipment offer even greater resistance. The captain's chair, for example, is one of the most effective ab exercises for strength training. The exerciser begins in a standing position on the exercise machine, back pressed straight against a flat surface. He then raises his knees until his thighs are suspended parallel to the floor, his weight being supported by the equipment. Other equipment-driven effective ab exercises are simpler; the ball crunch, for example, is a regular crunch performed with an exercise ball stabilized underneath the exerciser's lower back.

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