#1: Roman Chair Leg Raises
This exercise proves best for total muscular recruitment.
Keeping your shoulders down and your back flat, balance your weight evenly between your forearms and allow your body to hang freely inside the machine.1 Exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, keeping them straight and avoiding the use of momentum, until your body forms an “L” shape in mid-air.2 Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start. Repeat.
Alternative: Oblique Roman Chair Raises
Not only will this exercise target your six-pack, it will also trim and tighten your waistline.
Position yourself in the Roman chair as you did for the straight leg lift, but begin with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle as if you were sitting in an “air-chair.”1 From here, exhale and simultaneously lift and twist, bringing your knees up to one side of your body.2 Pause a moment at the top before slowly lowering them back to the start. Repeat on the other side.
Alternative: Hanging Leg Raises
Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and allow your body to hang freely.1 Keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed, exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, avoiding the use of momentum, until your body forms an “L” shape in mid-air.2 Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start.
Alternative: Hanging Oblique Raises
Position yourself on the pull-up bar in the same manner as for the hanging straight leg raise, and bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair in mid-air.1 From here, simultaneously lift and twist, bringing your knees up and to the side of your body.2 Pause a moment before returning to the start and repeating on the other side.
#2: Bicycle Maneuver
This exercise works the whole abdominal region, especially the obliques and hip flexors.
Lie on the floor with your fingers touching your ears, your elbows flat on the ground and your knees bent. Lift your feet off the floor so they make a 90-degree angle with your hips and point your toes. This is the starting position.1 From here, lift and twist your upper body while simultaneously bringing one knee in toward your head. Try to touch your right elbow to your left knee without allowing your arm to fold across your face, and push your right leg out and away from your body.2 Come back to the center. Repeat on the opposite side.3
#3: Vertical Crunch
Lie on the floor with your back flat, your fingers touching your ears and your legs elevated straight up from your hips. Pick a spot on the ceiling on which to focus, and exhale, slowly lifting your head and shoulders off the floor by using your abs. Avoid pulling your head and neck with your hands.
#4: Reverse Crunch (on floor)
This exercise initiates the work from the lower portion of the rectus abdominus, and utilizes all the abdominals for pelvic stabilization when the hips are in the air.
Lie on the floor with your back flat, your focus forward, and your feet straight up in the air above your hips.1 Place your hands either straight out to the sides like a cross, or underneath your hips for support. From here, press the soles of your feet straight up toward the ceiling and contract through your abs to pick your tailbone up off the floor three to four inches.2 Slowly allow yourself to return to the start and repeat.
Alternative: Reverse Crunch (on bench)
Position an abdominal bench so it rests at a slight angle. Lie on the bench with your hands over your head gripping the pad or bar behind you, your back flat and your knees bent and held above your hips. This is your starting position.1 From here, slowly curl your knees up and in toward your head, lifting first your tailbone, then your hips off the bench.2 When your knees come to eye level, reverse the motion and slowly uncurl one vertebra at a time.
Pass the start position and extend your legs straight out and away from you, keeping your back on the pad and your shoulders down.3 Pause a moment and come back to the start.
#5: Exercise Ball Crunch
This exercise works primarily the rectus abdominus and allows the spine to move through its complete range of motion.
Balance yourself on an exercise ball with your arms folded across your chest, your focus on the ceiling and your feet flat on the floor. Your starting position should find your back slightly arched over the curve of the ball.1 Exhale and slowly lift your upper body off the ball, keeping your focus high and your elbows wide.2 Pause a moment in the topmost position before inhaling and slowly lowering yourself back to the start.
You can also change the difficulty of this exercise by changing the positioning of your feet. The farther they are apart, the greater your balance, and the simpler the motion. The closer they are together, the greater your imbalance, the more difficult the motion, and the more stabilization you require from your obliques.
#6: Cable Crunches with Rope
This exercise challenges primarily the rectus abdominus, but recruits work from the obliques as well balances and holds the body in space.
Attach a rope to a high pulley and kneel on the floor approximately three feet away from a cable machine. Sit up and off your heels and hold the rope with both hands, keeping it close in to your ears with your elbows bent and pointed down toward the floor. This is your starting position.1 From here, exhale and slowly crunch downward and inward, aiming your elbows toward your knees, and keeping your hips and lower back stationary.2 Pause a moment at your peak contraction before slowly coming back to the start position, breathing in and resisting the pull of the weight stack on the return.
Finding Your Target Heart Rate Zone
220 – (your age) x 0.65 = Target Heart Rate
(Example using age 30: 220 – 30 = 190 x .65 = 123.5)
Top Three Ab Exercises
1) Roman Chair Leg Raise
2) Bicycle Crunch
3) Reverse Crunch