Muscles Targeted: The flat bench abdominal leg pull ins target your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) and provide minor tension to your hip flexors. This exercise works your lower abs very well, which provides a contrast to most ab exercises that place most of the resistance on the middle and upper abs.
Exercise Instructions: Sit on a flat bench with your legs off the end. Place your hands to your sides, grasping the edge of the bench with each hand. Extend your legs straight out and lean your back at a 45 degree angle. Bring your knees in toward your midsection, making sure that your abs are doing the work in a slow and controlled fashion. Return to the starting position.
Why This Exercise is Important: Flat bench abdominal leg pull ins are great at targeting your rectus abdominis muscle in addition to your hip flexors. This exercise ensures that you will get maximum AB strength out of each workout, without placing undue stress on any other muscle groups. Not only will you be closer to getting proper definition in your abs, but this workout will improve your core strength. You will notice an ability to lift more weights with both lower and upper body exercises, in addition to an increase in flexibility. Every exercise you perform, whether it be push ups, pull ups, jump rope, arm curls, or squats, will use your abdominal muscles in some manner. When you are performing these AB exercises correctly, you are giving the rest of your workout a huge boost as well.
Things To Avoid: The biggest mistake that most beginners make is that they will use other parts of their body to do the exercise for them. When you are performing this exercise, make sure that your abs are doing all the work. Each time you bring your legs closer to your chest, you should feel tension directly in your abs. This burn lets you know that they are doing the work. If you are not using correct form, then no matter how many reps or sets you perform, you will not improve your abdominal strength.
Ensure that your body is stable while performing the exercise. Make sure you have a firm grip on the bench and that each of your repetitions is slow and controlled. Not only will this ensure safety, but it will work your abs to the maximum.
After you have become accustomed to this exercise, you may want to start adding a dumbbell between your legs for additional weight. Use a light dumbbell at first (5-10 pounds) and work your way up. Adding the dumbbell is a great alternative to performing 30-35 reps at a time, especially if you have a busy schedule.
Reps and Sets: Perform this exercise with 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions. If you feel as though you are tiring too quickly, ten reps might be best for you starting out. On the other hand, if you find yourself getting to 20 reps without much effort, push yourself to complete 3 sets of 25 to 30 reps. Remember that each person’s workout is different. Do not feel bad if you see people performing the exercise with ease, while you are struggling. The key to strengthening your abs is maintaining good form, performing the exercise consistently, and gradually increasing your rep count.
Other Exercises To Use: If you want to get a great AB workout but are tired of doing the flat bench abdominal leg pull ins, you may want to try lying side oblique crunches, oblique plate twists and oblique twists. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.