A well defined midsection is sexy. Practically every one of us notices when the rippled, chiseled washboard abs of our favorite athletes or celebrities are revealed, causing us to swoon in admiration. The sex appeal which a great set of abs projects is evident by the looks and comments that are generated by those who have them to show off.
However, there are also practical reasons for wanting to produce six pack abs. Strong abs are essential for athletes who are serious about performing at their highest level as they provide a stable core, the ability to move more weight, greater flexibility in various movements and protection for your abdominal organs.
Top 5 Abdominal Exercises
When performing ab exercises, keep in mind that the abdominal muscle group requires quite a bit of stimulation to get that 6 pack look so desired. As with all muscles, the abs need to be stimulated through various exercise positions, rhythms, speeds, etc.
In order to produce killer abs, incorporate the following top 5 ab exercises into your strength training program.
Ab Exercise #1 – Flutter Kicks
Flutter kicks are one of the best staple ab exercises because they are challenging and they strengthen the back as well as the abs. Remember, you want to work out opposite muscle groups in order to maintain balance in your form and strength and working the back muscles is an important inclusion when exercising the abs.
Lay flat on your back on the floor, place your hands just under your glutes and raise your legs approximately a foot off the floor while supporting yourself with your hands and arms. From this position, make small kicks with your legs like you might do when swimming.
Ab Exercise #2 – Vertical Leg Raises
Vertical leg raises are great for working the lower abdominals and, with some modification, can also work the obliques. Perform this ab exercise either while sitting in a chair with your back flat against the back or by hanging from parallel bars. Slowly lift your knees to your chest and when you reach the maximum lift, squeeze the abdominals. Then control the lowering of your legs until they are almost to a resting point and lift again. Do not allow your legs to rest completely before performing another repetition but, rather, keep tension on your abs.
Ab Exercise #3 – Bicycle Crunches
This oldie but goodie ab exercise really works out the total abdominals and can be increased in intensity by using ankle weights. Lay on your back on the floor and place your hands under your head. Raise your legs and shoulder blades until your weight is resting on the middle of your back with knees bent over your chest. Make slow and controlled pedaling movements with your legs, ensuring that each knee touches the elbow.
Ab Exercise #4 – Clothespins
You’ll increase flexibility as well as strengthen abs with this intense exercise. Clothespins may be difficult to perform at first, but stick with them and they’ll reward you with solid core strength. Begin by laying down on the floor on your back. Raise yourself up until you are in a semi-seated position and then raise your legs until they are at about a 45º angle from the floor. While balancing on your buttocks, reach your arms towards your shins and squeeze your abs together as you do. These are small squeezing movements which should be done slowly and under control.
Ab Exercise #5 – Ab Wheel Rolls
This exercise is a major six pack ab builder which you should put off until you build your lower back muscles as it produces quite a bit of strain on that area. Using a small wheel with a bar extending through the hub, get on your knees and place your hands on the bar on each side of the wheel. Slowly allow the wheel to roll forwards until you reach a point of discomfort and then slowly pull yourself back up using your abs. Ensure that you use slow and controlled movements.