Your Best Abs - Get Your Strongest Abs with This Best Ab Workout

If you really want to get your strongest, firmest abs you want to choose exercises that target all the muscles of the core including the rectus abdominis (or the 'six pack'), obliques, transverse abdominis, and the lower back. 

While there are a wide variety of exercises you can do for the abs, there are some that are better than others. In fact, the American Council on Exercise commissioned a study to find out the best, and worst, ab exercises.

This workout includes all of the exercises that came out on top for firing up the most muscle fibers in your abs. Do this workout 2-3 times a week for your best abs.

Precautions

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses, or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed

An exercise ball, a Captain's Chair (optional) and a mat.

How To

  • Warm up with 5 minutes of light cardio or do this workout after your regular cardio or strength workout.
  • Option 1: Perform each exercise, one after the other in a circuit format, going through the circuit 1-3 times.
  • Option 2: Perform 2-3 sets of each exercise, resting briefly between sets in a straight-set format.
  • Perform this workout 3-4 non-consecutive days a week.

1
Bicycle Exercise

Bicycle Exercise
Bicycle Exercise. Paige Waehner
  1. Lie on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head, knees bent into the chest.
  2. Lift the shoulder blades off the floor and straighten the left leg out while simultaneously turning the upper body, taking the left elbow towards the right knee.
  3. Switch sides, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee.
  4. Continue alternating sides in a 'pedaling' motion for 16 reps (1 rep is to the right and left).
  5. Make sure you don't pull on the neck. Try to make all the movement come from your core.

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2
Captain's Chair or Chair Lifts

Captain's Chair Ab Exercise
Paige Waehner

If you have access to a Captain's Chair:

  1. Stand on the chair and grip handholds to stabilize your upper body.
  2. Press your back against the pad and contract the abs to raise the legs and lift knees towards your chest.
  3. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.
  4. If this is difficult or you feel your back arching, just lift one knee at a time.

Double Knee Lifts

If you don't have access to a Captain's Chair, try this alternative:

  1. Sit on a sturdy chair and place your hands on the chair on either side of the hips.
  2. Contract the abs and press into the chair to lift the hips off the chair at the same time you lift your feet off the floor.
  3. You can modify by leaving one or both feet on the floor.
  4. Repeat for 16 reps.

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3
Crunches on the Ball

Crunches on the Ball
Crunches on the Ball. Paige Waehner
  1. Lie with the ball resting under the mid/lower back.
  2. Place your hands behind the head or across the chest.
  3. Contract your abs to lift the torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips.
  4. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.
  5. Avoid pulling on the neck, but let the movement come from your abs.

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4
Vertical Leg Crunch

Vertical Crunch
Paige Waehner
  1. Lie on the floor and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed.
  2. Place your hands behind the head for support and contract the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor, as though reaching your chest towards your feet.
  3. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.

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5
Ab Rollouts on the Ball

Ab Rollouts on the Ball
Ab Rollouts on the Ball. Paige Waehner
  1. Kneel in front of the ball and place your hands on the ball parallel to one another.
  2. Roll the ball out keeping the hips straight and back straight.
  3. Only go out far enough to feel your abs engage. If you go too far, you might strain your lower back.
  4. Push into the ball to roll back in.
  5. Repeat for 16 reps. 

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6
Long Arm Crunch

Long Arm Crunch
Long Arm Crunch. Paige Waehner
  1. Lie on a mat and extend the arms straight out behind the head with hands clasped, keeping the arms next to the ears.
  2. Contract the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor, bringing the arms with you, keeping them straight.
  3. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.
  4. If your back arches on this one, put a rolled up towel under the hips.

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7
Reverse Crunches

Reverse Crunch Up
Paige Waehner
  1. Lie on the floor and place hands on the floor or behind the head.
  2. Lift the knees, bending them to 90-degrees.
  3. Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling.
  4. This is a small movement, only lifting the hips just a few inches off the floor.
  5. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.

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8
Crunches with a Heel Push

Crunch with a Heel Push
Crunch with a Heel Push. Paige Waehner
  1. Lie on your back with the knees bent and the hands gently cradling the head.
  2. Flex your feet and keep them flexed as your contract the abs, lifting the shoulder blades off the floor.
  3. At the top of the crunch, press your heels into the floor while pressing your back against the mat and slightly raising the glutes off the floor.
  4. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.

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9
Elbow Planks

Plank
Plank. Paige Waehner
  1. Place forearms on the floor and press up into a flat-back position on the toes, keeping the hips down so that the body is in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. If you can't keep the hips down, come down to the knees for a modification.
  3. Hold for 30-60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.

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