5 Most Effective Ab Exercises

best ab exercises

Abs are aca-mazing! Sorry, I am listening to Pandora and a song from Pitch Perfect just came on.  Yes, I did see the movie and think it was pretty awesome.

Anyways, moving on…

Yesterday, I had a great workout.  I tell myself it was great but basically it was legs day which I have a very strong love/hate relationship with.  But, at least I do train legs unlike some other people. Just a friendly reminder…

don't skip leg daySo let’s get back to talking about the 5 most effective ab exercises. After I train legs, I always do a few ab exercises. There are some who think you don’t have to directly train them, I of course think you should.  It’s not just to get a six pack but to overall make them stronger.  To set the record straight.  Doing 1000s of crunches and sit ups will not give you a six pack or will doing any of these 5 most effect ab exercises.

Six packs come from the decrease of body fat due to the combination of training and nutrition.  But instead of slaving away doing sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, flutter kicks and whatever other ones you chose, I figured I’d dive in some research to find the exercises which are the most effective and stimulate the abdominal muscles best.

The 5 Most Effective Ab Exercises

These findings were from some of the studies I came across who used an Electromyography (EMG) to measure muscle response or electrical response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle.  It’s a super cool instrument and very useful for learning the effectiveness of exercises.  The following 5 ab exercises are what I found to be the most effective not just by doing them but also from science.

First let me share with you the anatomy of the abdominal muscles, and then we’ll start on the list in no particular order:

abs muscles

1. Turkish Get-Up (TGU)

This definitely takes a bit of coordination and isn’t just great for the abs but also for the rest your body as well. TGU was found to have more than a 100% activation in all 4 abdominal muscles.  That’s super awesome.  Instead of trying to describe the movement and confuse you, it’d be much better to show you a video. Not just any video, but an cool video that’ll make you say WOW. But please start off with a light dumbbell or kettle bell first. Thank you.

2.  Hanging Leg Raise

Hang from a bar, keep your body tight, your legs straight and raise them up until they are at least parallel with the ground.  Can’t do that? Start off with bringing your knees up towards your chest or until they are parallel with the ground.  It is really important to keep your core tight and not allow your body to swing.

hanging leg raise

3.  Body Saw

This is another great exercises that I used on many of the athletes I trained at the University of Redlands, and with great results.  To do this exercise you can either use a Val Slide, and if you don’t have any clue what a Val Slide is, that’s okay.  Use a towel instead on a smooth surface.

Get into a plank position on your elbows with the Val Slide under your toes.  While bracing your core, push your arms into the ground and move your body back which will increase the lever arm placing more tension on the core, when you reach as far as you can handle, bring yourself back to the start.  Here’s some help to visualize it.

4.  Chin Up

I have to put this.  It’s not exactly an ab exercises but studies have found that the EMG on the rectus abdominis during a bodyweight chin-up spanked the hell out of any other abdominal exercise when it came to total average and rectus abdominis activity.  Can’t perform a chin-up? Today is a good to start trying.

5.  Ab Wheel Rollout aka The Evil Wheel

I call this ‘The Evil Wheel’ because every time I do these, I’m pretty sore from them the next door.  Its definitely a deep burn.  It really hits your rectus abdominis as well as strengthen your lower back.  If you find using the wheel a bit challenging, feel free to use an exercise ball instead.  Then slowly progress to using The Evil Wheel.

ab wheel rollout

Here’s the great thing about these 5 most effective exercises.  You can actually perform all 5 of these exercises as a single workout and it’ll definitely get your metabolism going and make your body shed off fat.

Did you see what I just did? Pretty good ya?

This is how I would set up the workout.

Perform the following exercises in a controlled speed using a full range of motion.  Do the exercises that are grouped together in a circuit fashion.  For instance, perform exercise A1, then without rest move onto exercise A2. Rest for the prescribed time before you do another round of A1 and A2.

TOTAL AB AND BODY WORKOUT

A1) Turkish Get-up:  6-8 reps on each arm

A2) Body Saw:  12-15 reps

Rest 90 seconds, before you perform the second round of A1 and A2.  Do 4 rounds.  After the 4th round, rest for 2 minutes before you start the B circuit.

B1) Chin Ups:  8-10 reps

B2) Hanging Leg Raise: 12-15 reps

B3) Ab Wheel Rollout:  10-12 reps

Rest 90 seconds, before you perform the second round of B exercises. Do 4 rounds. After the 4th round, you get a golden star.

Give this workout a try and let me know how it goes. If you know someone who could use a quick workout, share this with them as well, actually share this with EVERYONE you know to spread the word.  

MAHALO! 

About Daniel Aipa

Daniel Aipa is a writer, strength and conditioning coach, and known as the 'Kū Guy'. He believes in building strength both in and out of the gym. He is the author of ALOHA TO YOU and the founder of KŪ PERFORMANCE HAWAII. Aipa's writing is geared towards helping others build a Kū body and live a Kū life, becoming the strongest versions of themselves.

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