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Ask The Ripped Dude

"How Can I Improve My Abs Without Hundreds Of Crunches?"

Ask The Ripped Dude: How Can I Improve My Abs Without Hundreds Of Crunches?

Crunches and sit-ups can be boring, and they're not as effective as you might think. These five effective ab exercises might serve you better.
Q

I'm tired of constantly working my abs on the floor: crunches, sit-ups, and planks. Do I need to do isolation movements or is my regular workout enough to build a strong core?

Strength and muscle development is important, but nothing says, "Yeah, I'm fit" quite like a six-pack. Ripped abs come from a perfect diet and tough training. Contrary to popular belief, though, you don't need to a million crunches to coax them from hiding.

If you lift several days each week, use free weights, cables, and get on machines, you are building your core. You may not be doing direct ab work, but many exercises found in even the most basic training regimen stimulate your abdominal muscles. Here are some examples:

EXERCISE 1 Front Squats

Your core is engaged no matter which version of squats you do, but holding the weight at the front of your body challenges the anterior core more than a back squat does. In order to do the movement safely and successfully, you have to engage your core.

Without strong abs, the weight will bend you right over and win. Moreover, most of us are better at front squats anyway, because we train and use our anterior core much more than our posterior core. If you do add front squats to your regimen, you'll probably find it an easier movement than the back squat.

EXERCISE 2 Triceps Push-downs

If you don't feel your abs tighten when you do these, you're probably doing them incorrectly. If you didn't engage your core, you would just push the bar or pull the rope down by bending at the waist rather than using your triceps.

Using your core to keep an upright position is called anti-flexion—your body uses it much more than you'd think. The isolation and activation of your triceps during this movement is directly related to your core's ability to keep you from bending forward.

Mountain Climbers ///

EXERCISE 3 Mountain Climbers

Most of us use mountain climbers as a cardio movement. Although it's great for getting your heart rate up, it's also a good core exercise. Because it starts in a plank position, your core is automatically engaged in anti-extension, which means it keeps your back from hyperextending. It's doubly difficult because you also have to flex your abs to bring your knee toward your chest.

EXERCISE 4 Dumbbell Row

These lifts are probably a staple on your back day. But, even if you don't realize it, they also work your core. To keep your body stable and upright, your abs work their anti-flexion skills. And, because you're loaded on one side, your core also tries to keep you from falling that way. This is called anti-rotation. To hit your lats correctly, your abs have to also do a lot of work.

EXERCISE 5 Sprints

Not only are sprints great for fat-burn, they're an abdominal killer. Most isolation movements focus on just the six-pack muscles, but sprints hit the whole core. While you're sprinting, your abs have to constantly produce force to keep your body upright and your trunk stabilized.

If you do multiple sets of sprints, your abs will spend a lot of time under tension working as hard as they can.

A Time to Isolate

Abs seekers usually try to spot treat their spare tire by working their abs several times per week doing crunches, sit-ups, abs machines—you name it. If you're already hitting your abs during your routine, is it really necessary to spend an extra 20 minutes fluttering your feet or repping out 100 crunches? Not really.

There's no way to actually spot-treat, and the core strength and stability required to complete moves like a squat will tax the abs and help develop the washboard look you are after. If you'd take the time you'd normally spend doing ab isolation exercises on meal preparation, you'd be better off. After all, no matter how much you work your core, you'll never see a six-pack unless your body fat is relatively low.

If you really don't want to give up your ab routine, you don't have to. But you don't need to spend all day on it. Choose a few effective movements and focus on quality over quantity.

Transform Your Body


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About The Author

Known as ''The World Most Ripped Fitness Model,'' he's very passionate about educating people all over the world about health and fitness.

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KingZander

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KingZander

Great read! You have a point! Abs are used in almost all of our motions.

Jul 17, 2013 8:49pm | report
 
kingtucci

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kingtucci

Jump rope, hula hoop, rack pulls, and the list goes on and on. I make my clients do all of those and more instead of just back-breaking isolation exercises on the floor. Another good article Obi... keep spreading important information.

Jul 17, 2013 9:17pm | report
 
fishnbrah

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fishnbrah

i think that sprinting growing up helped develop my serratus the most.

Jul 17, 2013 11:29pm | report
 
TrimLines

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TrimLines

Front squats will show you how weak your abdominals are real fast

Jul 18, 2013 7:34am | report
 
Joedzilla

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Joedzilla

Tell me about it, i just added them to my leg day, they are killers.

Jul 18, 2013 8:06am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'10"
  • wt: 176.37 lbs
  • bf: 17.0%
littlechampion

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littlechampion

First time I did front squats, I could barely do a third of my back squat weight. They're one hell of a ab builder.

Oct 4, 2013 12:12pm | report
P3TrainingP3

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P3TrainingP3

The triceps pushdown description doesn't make any sense. How is this movement an anti-flexion movement for the trunk? The role of the trunk would be anti-extension as the force vector is pulling up vertically in the pulley system whereas in a deadlift the force vector pulls down vertically requiring anti-flexion to maintain a rigid torso. I think this may need some revision.

Jul 18, 2013 8:02am | report
 
Saltus

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Saltus

Muscles can't extend. They can only flex/pull. The wording is fine. I think the author is mainly saying that the abdominals are stabilizing the torso throughout the movement.

Jul 18, 2013 4:57pm | report
P3TrainingP3

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P3TrainingP3

I agree with you that the core as a whole is stabilizing the torso throughout the movement, but the article wording is still incorrect. If my trunk is flexed, my trunk extensors can contract, thereby extending my trunk. So although my glutes, hamstrings, adductors etc. flexed/pulled, my trunk extended. The muscles of my trunk that were flexed are now extended relative to their original position. So muscle extension according to a positional analysis is relative. The role of the trunk in a triceps pushdown pictured above, if it is to remain stabilized, is to resist extension that is being caused by the force pulling vertically upwards. Therefore, the muscles of the core would be providing an anti-extension stimulus to the trunk, not anti-flexion which was stated by the author. If this was a semantics issue I wouldn't have posted, but I feel this portion should be addressed and revised appropriately. However, thanks for taking the time to respond and providing your input!

Jul 18, 2013 7:00pm | report
MissPLP

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MissPLP

" After all, no matter how much you work your core, you'll never see a 6-pack unless your body fat is relatively low"

Article Rated:
Jul 18, 2013 8:18am | report
 
NaturallyGood

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NaturallyGood

/\ /\ TRUE

Jul 18, 2013 9:28am | report
alexcruz0724

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alexcruz0724

You can do all the lifts possible in the world but if your diet doesn't match your task, "your wasting time" and most likely damaging more than building

Jul 18, 2013 10:01am | report
 
Grailz

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Grailz

Abs are built in the kitchen!

Jul 18, 2013 3:16pm | report
 
obadike1

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obadike1

There was a part of the article that I added in here that was unfortunately left out and what it was is that your body-fat levels have to be low enough to see your abs. For a guy your bf% has to be 12 percent and under and for a female your bf% has to be 14 percent and under. 80 percent of being lean enough to see your abs is your diet and these exercises mean nothing if your diet isn't right. When doing triceps exercises you can easily feel your abs engaging when going through the motion of that exercise so indirectly it does work your abs. Also Lat Pull downs works your abs indirectly too which is another exercise that was edited out of this article that I wrote. I truly apologize that the diet portion info and bf% levels was edited out as it was was written in the original article. I hope this extra information make sense to all of you. I am glad everybody enjoyed the article!

Jul 18, 2013 7:57pm | report
 
HBDYWI

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HBDYWI

jumping rope is great. it engages your core heavily and its a good form of cardio. i highly suggest it

Jul 18, 2013 9:17pm | report
 
americanxtreme

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americanxtreme

Very good article

Jul 23, 2013 11:39am | report
 
BigBoy3333

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BigBoy3333

OMG front squats are the worst!!! but I love them at the same time!! ;) haha

Jul 23, 2013 1:20pm | report
 
ItzZer0

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ItzZer0

Excellent Read! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!!

Jul 26, 2013 10:18pm | report
 
BaBbu38

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BaBbu38

I like Front Squats!!

Jul 27, 2013 1:54am | report
 
butlersrone

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butlersrone

it seem the more I work my core I still don't see the improvements in my abs. you see I'm a big guy that power lifted in my younger years, and eat so that I can move a lot of weight. Now after suffering a back injury I got serious about bodybuilding and transforming my body to release the strain and pain in my back. So I got away from a lot of compound movements. So I don't do front squats and haven't done any sprits yet!!!

Jul 31, 2013 2:09pm | report
 
lofficer1

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lofficer1

I understand that abs are utilized by the human body to support us standing on 2 feet...let me find a article that shows ab specific exercises. Not doing squats the day after legs...

Nov 4, 2013 12:30pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 21 of 21 Comments

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