So the word on the street is that people like to look good. Who would have thought? The media plays such a big part in how we think, and with the amount of exercise and fitness magazines, as well as actors and actresses alike, everyone is being told that you need a great looking stomach to truly look good.
If so much time and energy is going to be focused on this muscle group, it’s probably a good idea to know what the best stomach exercises are. There are many resources available for finding the best stomach exercises, and plenty of people to say what they consider the best, so how can a person decide for themselves which truly are the best exercises for working their stomach muscles?
First off, you should seek the advice of someone that’s done some research and worked in the trenches. Taking advice from someone just because they have abs, might not always be the best way to go about finding answers. There’s plenty of people out there with a nice looking stomach that have no idea what they’re talking about. Diet plays such a huge part in being able to see those 6 little nuggets. I personally believe that genetics also plays a huge role. But this is about the best exercises to strengthen your core without jeopardizing injury.
When getting into an exercise program, people need to remember that the stomach area, or core, is made up of several muscles. If you plan on just cranking out a bunch of crunches, you’re not going to get great results. The abdominals are made up of the rectus abdominis (the 6 pack you see, or don’t see depending on who you are), the transverse abdominis (the muscles underneath your 6 pack), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on your sides).
One of my friends was shooting his mouth off around our hockey team and said that to get in shape all people have to do is pushups, situps and run a bit. I shook my head when I heard this but I’m not one that’s big on confrontation, so he can go ahead and keep thinking that. If that’s the exercise routine he’s going to do regularly, he’s going to end up with some muscle imbalances.
I myself, having done quite a bit of my own research, trying to seek out the best trainers to learn from, have come to the conclusion that crunches are yesterday’s news. As a society we sit so much, whether it be at work or at home. What this does is causes our back muscles to become lengthened and loose. And this is what gets us into trouble. Doing crunches just further puts us into this forward flexion and makes the problem worse. So while this article is about ab exercises, we must remember to balance things out and put our back through exercises too.
Ab Exercise #1 – Plank
In order to work our rectus abdominis, as well as the other muscles in our core, without hammering ourselves repeatedly into forward flexion, stabilization exercises are the way to go. Stay in a pushup position or hold yourself up from your elbows with your forearms on the ground. Squeeze your entire core and work at holding it for longer periods of time once you get used to it.
Ab Exercise #2 – Side Planks
Another stabilization exercise that again works your whole core, but this one especially hammers at your obliques. Lie up on one elbow and the side of one foot with your whole body in a straight line. Again, squeeze your entire core for the time that you’ve set for yourself.
Ab Exercise #3 – Rollouts
If you ever get your hands on an ab wheel, hold on to it. They look like a stupid little gadget, but they’re honestly a top drawer type of unit to have around. Hold on to the handles with just your knees on the ground. Stabilize yourself, with your arms straight and roll out until your chest almost touches the ground. Now use your core to bring yourself back up. It looks easy but after a few you’ll understand what I’m talking about. If you don’t have an AB wheel, you can perform the same movement using a stability ball as well as a barbell with plates on it.
Ab Exercise #4 – Mountain Climbers
This is another great exercise that targets your entire core. You start in a pushup position and bring one knee to your elbow on the same side or the opposite side. So you actually have two options on how to perform this exercise. You also go to town on your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, as well as your obliques. It’s a killer!
Ab Exercise #5 – Reverse Crunches
Ya, I said I wasn’t a fan of crunches. This is a different type of crunch that doesn’t have you rounding your spine and hammering yourself into forward flexion. This exercise involves you lying flat on your back with your feet off the ground. Next you bring your knees up to your chest and slightly roll up so your hips raise off the floor. This mainly targets the lower part of your rectus abdominis but it’s still one of the best and safest abdominal exercises you can do.
So I want you all to remember that just because one person may consider a specific ab exercise to be the best stomach exercise that does not necessarily mean it is the best for everyone. Each person’s body is different and will respond differently to certain movements. If you’re serious about getting in great shape, make sure to try out several different exercises to determine which exercises are best for you. If one exercise is simply too hard to do correctly, or does not feel like it has done anything for the muscle group worked, that exercise is probably not right for you.
Be smart, do your research, and make sure to keep your health and safety a priority. Your core strength will help you in every other exercise you do. If you’re putting your core and stomach muscles in jeopardy of injury, then the rest of your program and efforts will suffer.