3 Best Abs Exercises For a Quicker 6-Pack

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3 best abs exercises

Your choice of ab exercises can play an incredible role in your ab development on the long run. Just because some ab exercises are more effective than others. If you choose wisely, you can develope tighter abs few times quicker.

While there are a ton of guys preaching many different ab exercises as the best abs exercises out there without any substantiation, there are actually few guys who can justify their talk with some proof.

Although there are very few studies and researches in relation to ab exercises, there are some. And today I want to tell you about one of them so we could find the best abs exercises.

Well…maybe these are not the best of the best abs exercises ever, but they are the most effective within this particular study.

There is a study led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., where researchers compared the effectiveness of 13 most common ab exercises (Oh, I could argue with those guys about their choice of exercises). They did use electromyography (EMG) equipment to monitor each participant’s muscle activity as they exercised.

As a base-line for the comparison they did use the same old traditional crunch.

Here are the results of the activity for the Rectus Abdominis (six pack abs muscle) for all the 13 exercises:

  • Bicycle Crunches(248%)
  • Captain’s Chair (212%)
  • Exercise Ball Crunch (139%)
  • Vertical Leg Crunch (129%)
  • Torso Track (127%)
  • Long Arm Crunch (119%)
  • Reverse Crunch (109%)
  • Crunch With Heel Push (107%)
  • Ab Roller (105%)
  • Hover (100%)
  • Traditional Crunch (100%)
  • Exercise Tubing Pull (92%)
  • Ab Rocker (21%)

So The 3 Best Abs Exercises Are…

How To Perform These Exercises

1. Bicycle Crunches

#1 best abs exercise - bicycle crunches

Targets: Obliques

One of the best abs exercises and all you need is yourself. Which is great as you can do it from a comfort of your home.

Before you start the exercise, lie down on the floor with your lower back pressed flat agains the ground. Lift your shoulder blades and your legs up of the floor. Put your hands beside your head. This will be your starting position of this ab exercise.

To begin the exercise start bicycle pedaling motion – one leg goes in as the other goes out. Simultaneously rotate your upper body while trying to reach your knee with the opposite elbow. Lift your shoulder as high and as far as you can. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee while keeping your elbows pointed out. Depending on your flexibility you don’t have necessarily to touch elbow to your knee. Fully exhale when you go from starting to middle position and inhale when you return.

In case you find yourself pulling your head when performing this exercises, put your fingertips under your ears instead your arms behind or besides your head.

If you want to make this exercise a lever lighter, lift your legs higher. Or do not extend your legs fully. If you experience lower back pain while performing this exercise and you find that previously mentioned tweaks do not work for you, don’t perform the exercise.

When it comes down to abs training quality overcomes the quantity. Therof perform the exercise nice and slow. And don’t forget to enjoy the burn.

Common mistakes:
1. Shoulders not lifted high enough
2. Shoulders pointing in not out
3. Chin tuck down too far
4. Elbows not extended to reach the knees
5. Exercise done too fast

2. Captain’s Chair

#2 best abs exercise - captain's chair

Targets: Lower abs

To do this abs exercise you first need to find a regular or a decline captain’s chair. Alternatively you can do this exercise on paralell bars as well.

Before you begin the exercise, stabilize your upper body by gripping the hand holds and pressing your back against the back pad. While holding your body with your legs dangling below don’t sag into your shoulders. In other words keep your shoulders as far as you can from your ears.

To start the exercise lift your knees in towards your chest as close as you can. It will require you to tilt your lower back off the pad. Then slowly lower your legs down. Fully exhale when you lift your knees up and inhale on the way down.

If you find it too difficult to perform this exercise as described above, try to bring your knees up only to 90 degree angle. This way there will be lower engagement of your abdominal muscles, but less pressure on your lower back. On the other hand to make it more challenging raise straight legs up or add some resistance. As a variation you can lift one leg up at the time.

Perform slow and controlled repetitions. Don’t swing your legs up and down and don’t let momentum do the job.

Common mistakes:
1. Legs lifted only to 90 degree angle
2. Legs swinged up and down
3. Sagging in shoulders

3. Crunch On Exercise Ball

#3 best abs exercise - crunch on exercise ball

Targets: Upper abs

For this exercise you’ll need a stability ball (swiss ball).

Before you start the exercise sit down on the ball ond walk your feet out. Your lower back should be on the ball. Your back should be arched and your abdominal muscles completely stretched out. Your legs should be bent at 90 degree angle and your feet flat on the ground. Put hands beside your head.

To begin the exercise contract your abdominals and curl your upper body up. At the same time curl your hips up as well. Raise your torso no more than 45 degrees. Fully exhale on your way up and inhale on the way down. When you return to a starting position let your abs fully stretch out.

To avoid pulling your head with your hands, put your finger tips behind your ears and look in the ceiling at one spot throughout the entire exercise.

For a better balance put your feet wider apart. To make the exercise less stable, bring your feet closer together. Your arms are added weight. Therefore to make this exercise a bit lighter, put yur hands crossed on your chest. Or extend your arms behind your head to make it a level tougher.

Common mistakes:
1. Chin tuck down too far
2. Pulling head with hands
3. Not stretching out abdominals on the way down
4. Performed more as a sit-up not crunch movement

Ab exercises on a stability ball are great as they engage more muscles than regular abs exercises performed on a stable surface. Although this study shows that crunch on the exercise ball is one of the best ab exercises out of 13 most common ones, you should know that this exercise isn’t the most efficient one using a swiss ball.

There is another research done that points out 3 the most effective ab exercises with a swiss ball.

Powerful Ab Workout

Each of these 3 best abs exercises focus on different area of your abdominal muscle. Which means you can combine all these 3 abs exercises into one powerful ab workout.

And it could go like this…

Level: beginner

  • Captains Chair x 5
  • Crunch on stability ball x 10
  • Bicycle crunches x 5 (per side)

Level: intermediate

  • Captains Chair x 10
  • Crunch on stability ball x 30
  • Bicycle crunches x 10 (per side)

Level: advanced

  • Captains Chair x 20
  • Crunch on stability ball x 50
  • Bicycle crunches x 20 (per side)

Do one round of all 3 exercises without any rest in between. Once you finish one round, immediately go for another. Repeat 2-4 times.

Hey, Is Any Of These Best Abs Exercises In Your Ab Routine?

Let me know in comments.

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About Matiss Bartulis

Sweets and pizza addict. Online and real-life fitness coach. Author of the "From Fat To Six Pack" E-mail training course. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.