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Targeted Ab Training: Top 5 Moves For Your Core

Think those crunches are helping you earn that 6-pack? Not as much as you think. These five ab movements are more effective.

For many of us, ab training means finding an open corner in the gym and doing sets of crunches until we know that 6-pack can only be a few days away. The day arrives, but the abs seldom do.

The problem with this type of thinking is twofold. One, you'll never have abs if your body fat isn't scarce enough to see them—and body fat is hugely dependent on nutrition. The second big problem is that crunches are probably the least effective way to work your abs.

There are better ways to train abs, and I'm here to share them. Trust me, it's time to break free from your usual crunch-heavy routine. Try these moves instead. They've been shown to stimulate 200 percent or more ab activity than regular crunches.

Top 5 Ab Exercises


5 Must-Do Ab/Core Exercises: Ripped Freak Abs

Watch The Video - 05:04




EXERCISE 1 // Plank
(2-3 sets of 30-60 second holds)

The plank is great for working your entire core, and it can stimulate up to 130 percent more ab activity than the crunch. To make it more difficult, widen your feet and reach forward with your hands—that'll give your core an even bigger challenge. When you reach forward, try not to tilt from your hips.

If reaching forward isn't quite hard enough, or you want to do more oblique work, bring your knees up and toward your elbows.


EXERCISE 2 // Side Plank
(2-3 sets of 30-60 second holds)

The side plank can target each side of your body, allowing you to address weaknesses and correct imbalances. This move hits more than your abs—your abductors, adductors, quads, hamstrings, glutes, upper body, and lower back all get a workout.

Your ankle, hip, and shoulder should be in one line, and your chin should remain off your chest. If you need a greater challenge, raise your top leg to parallel with the ground. You can also grab a dumbbell and "sweep" the weight from under your body. You should end with your arm straight up.


EXERCISE 3 // Bicycle Crunch
(2-3 sets of 20-30 reps)

This movement can stimulate nearly 190 percent more activity than the regular crunch. The key is to fully extend one leg at a time and think about bringing your shoulder, rather than your elbow, up to touch your opposite knee. Visualize that contraction.

To make this harder, use a medicine ball and crunch up as you weave the ball in a figure-eight pattern in and out of your legs.


EXERCISE 4 // Reverse Crunch
(2-3 sets of 12-20 reps)

Tuck your hands under your butt and bring your knees to your chest. Concentrate on your pelvis as you tuck it up. You should feel your lower abs kicking in as you roll your pelvis up and forward. This exercise should activate 140 percent more of your abs than a regular crunch.


EXERCISE 5 // Vertical Chair Knee Raise
(2-3 sets of 12-20 reps)

This exercise should stimulate 200 percent or more abdominal activation than a regular crunch. Amazing! Make sure your shoulders and back are posture-perfect. Raise your knees past your waistline; if you don't move your hips far enough, your hip flexors will do all the work.

For a higher degree of difficulty, do straight-leg raises or alternate legs. You can also hold a dumbbell between your legs for added extra resistance.




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jstanek

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jstanek

I like cable crunches too.

Apr 29, 2013 7:46pm | report
 
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

These are all in my routine! Good information

Apr 29, 2013 8:12pm | report
 
bryanberic

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bryanberic

Really practical and to the point.I like it!Keep the good stuff coming!

Apr 29, 2013 11:57pm | report
 
NiasBalata

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NiasBalata

great article I'll always like ABS articles there is many variation to core & abs muscles workouts, thanks for the info. :)

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Apr 30, 2013 12:28am | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'11"
  • wt: 181.28 lbs
  • bf: 17.3%
workintwardit51

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workintwardit51

.are all in my ab routine.

Apr 30, 2013 4:12am | report
 
travis132

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travis132

No, no, yes yes yes.

Apr 30, 2013 7:57am | report
 
luxster123

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luxster123

the plank is the best ab workout u can possible do

May 2, 2013 11:05pm | report
rennbj4

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rennbj4

Do real lifters still do crunches? These are the TOP 5 core exercises, really? Try dragon flags, levers, planches, L-sits.

Apr 30, 2013 8:24am | report
 
luxster123

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luxster123

90 percent of people cant do levers, planches or a perfect dragon flag

May 2, 2013 11:06pm | report
phoenix909

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phoenix909

ya i would agree with renn dragon flags are a extremely difficult exercise to do you have to have incredible ab strength to be able to do them even then you cant do very many of them

May 31, 2013 2:54pm | report
homemama

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homemama

not familiar with dragon flags, levers, planches can someone enlighten me please

Jun 25, 2013 11:42am | report
byrnes1985

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byrnes1985

Glad i do them all!

Apr 30, 2013 8:45am | report
 
bneel20

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bneel20

How do you do this? All exercises back to back?

Apr 30, 2013 12:16pm | report
ballinassm1ke

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ballinassm1ke

Abs and chest have the most difficult maintenance!

Lower abs especially!

Apr 30, 2013 9:04am | report
 
Mrga

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Mrga

that depends on genetics i have great chest -workout every 2 weeks and it still looks better than 90% of people my weight.

May 8, 2013 9:43am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'10"
  • wt: 180.78 lbs
  • bf: 11.0%
55

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55

Hm, heavy compounds have been good enough for me. I never isolate abs.

Apr 30, 2013 11:58am | report
 
PandaTom

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PandaTom

as in have an "ab day"?

May 11, 2013 2:46am | report
tusharverma

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tusharverma

Thanks a tonne...I have a herniated disk and i can definetly do atleast some of these exercises...was sticking to just plank so far! 10/10

Apr 30, 2013 12:16pm | report
 
m2Bandit

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m2Bandit

Yeah I've got some back issues too. I've been pretty much relying on the "vertical chair knee raise" but the plank and reverse crunch look good for my back.

Dec 19, 2013 12:15am | report
JRuaStr8up

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JRuaStr8up

Good stuff I do 4 out 5 of those ab excercises, and it def works!!!!!!

Apr 30, 2013 12:50pm | report
 
MichaelSmoor

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MichaelSmoor

I have them all but the bicycle crunch. I'll definitely try it tomorrow.

Apr 30, 2013 12:53pm | report
 
godspeed1

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godspeed1

can we take supplements on off days..?

Apr 30, 2013 12:55pm | report
 
northcuttnm

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northcuttnm

of course, taking supps on off days is very important.

Apr 30, 2013 1:52pm | report
prettyboy811

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prettyboy811

Great article! Short and to the point. Wish more articles on here were more direct.

Apr 30, 2013 1:01pm | report
 
06Release

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06Release

Huge fan of the last one, however for me I'm in between lifting my knees bent or lifting my legs straight out. If youre in the same boat as me try just bending your legs out almost at a 45 degree angle if you cant do them with your legs straight out.

Article Rated:
Apr 30, 2013 1:51pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 61 Comments

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