Many of best abdominal exercises do not require expensive gym equipment and can often be done at home without any equipment at all. Check out this list of exercises that will give your abs a great workout.
A plank is a simple exercise that really stresses your ab muscles. I is one of the best exercises for strengthen your core and has the added benefit of strengthening several other parts of your body including your shoulders, arms, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. While getting into the planking position is easy, holding the position takes strength and endurance.
To execute a plank, get into pushup position and rest your weight on your forearms/elbows. Your elbows should be bent 90 degrees and your body should be in a straight line, from your head to your feet. The goal is to hold this position for as long as you can. Beginners should try to hold the position for at least 30-60 seconds. Increase this interval as your abs become stronger and more capable.
You can get a more intense ab workout from planks if you widen your stance and brace yourself with your hands instead of your forearms and elbows. An easier version of the plank that can be done to build up strength involves touching the floor with your knees instead of just your feet.
The sit-up remains staple of abdominal exercise. They are very often seen being executed in the military, in high school PE class, and even in many movies. Sit-ups works the abdominals, hip flexors, chest, lower back, and neck muscles.
To perform a proper sit-up, lay on your back. Bend your knees. Either place your hands behind your head or lay them across your chest so they are touching the opposite shoulders. Pull your body all the way up towards your knees. Then, easily lower your body back down to the starting position. It is best to exhale when you lift your body up and inhale when you lower your body back down.
Sit-ups put a lot of strain on the lower back raising the risk of injury and making it a controversial exercise. For this reason, it is important to do sit-ups properly. If you have lower back problems, it is best to skip this exercise.
Crunches really isolate the abdominal muscles and give your stomach an intense workout. Studies show them to be one of the best abdominal exercises. They will also strengthen your core and your lower back muscles.
A crunch is like a half situp. To perform a proper crunch, lay on your back. Bend your knees. Either place your hands behind your head or lay them across your chest so they are touching the opposite shoulders. Pull your body up until your head and shoulder blades are off the floor. Hold that position for a second and then lower your body back down to the starting position. It is best to exhale when you lift your body up and inhale when you lower your body back down.
Lying Leg Lifts (Leg Raises)
Leg lifts are a great exercise to target your lower abdominal muscles. To perform a lying leg lift, lay on your back with your body straight and legs together. Place your arms at your sides. Hands should be face down and slightly tucked under your buttocks. Then raise your legs bending them very slightly at the knee. Once your legs are pointed at the ceiling, return them slowly until your heels are almost touching the floor. Repeat. You can bend your legs more to lower the resistance or keep them straighter for added resistance.
The bicycle crunch targets a full range of abdominal muscles along with your core. This exercise is great for working your obliques (side ab muscles). It will also strengthen your glutes and thighs.
To perform a bicycle crunch, lay on your back and place your hands behind your head (not all the way behind your head but at least cover your ears). Lift your legs off the ground. Bend one leg at the knee and bring it up towards your chest. Bring the opposite elbow down towards the raised knee. Touch your elbow to your knee (or at least bring it close to your knee). Then bring your leg and you arm back to the starting position and perform the same move with the opposite leg and arm. Keep alternating between left leg - right arm and right leg - left arm. The motion should look similar to riding a bicycle.
Side planks are typically harder to do than regular planks because they require you to support your entire body weight at just two points of contact. Side planks give your obliques (side abs) a great workout. They also exercise your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They can also help prevent or reduce back pain.
To perform a proper side plank, lie on your right side. Raise your upper body so that it rests on your right elbow. Be sure to keep your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Remain in that position for several seconds. Then repeat the exercise using the left side of the body.
Ab Roller (Ab Wheel)
The ab wheel is inexpensive and small. It is great little piece of equipment that really strengthens your core and works your abs.
To perform an ab roll, get on your knees. Hold the wheel with one hand, face down, on each grip (like rolling dough). Move forward, rolling the wheel out in front of you until you feel like you can go no further without holding yourself up. Keep your abs tight and your hips stable. Hold the position for a few seconds if possible. Then roll back towards the starting position.
Tips: Make sure you are on a flat hard surface. Your knees can be on a matt or cushion. Proper form is important. Put pressure on your abs when returning to the starting position. Keep your movement steady. Do not jerk or rock the wheel. If it is too difficult, reduce your range of motion.
Exercises, such as running, can put a lot of stress on your joints. If this is a problem for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of great low impact exercises that can get your heart rate up and give you a great work out so give your joints a break and try these low impact cardio exercises.
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