10 Exercises for Training the Abdominal Muscles

How to Get Those Stomach Muscles in Shape

Two friends exercising together
Two friends doing situps.. Matt Dutile/Getty Images

People love well-developed abdominal muscles. The abs are the muscles around the belly button and the ones attributable to that washboard stomach look. People love to hate belly fat, and smooth or rippled "abs" show that it's gone. That's what makes for a nice rippling six-pack or a smooth set of flat abs.

You must do these two things to get nice looking abs:

  • lose belly fat
  • build up those muscles.

In addition, athletes and sports people need strength in the abdominals and the surrounding muscles -- right around to the back -- to efficiently perform at their particular sport.

Even running sports benefit from strong core muscles, which include the abdominals.

Exercises for Building and Strengthening the Abdominals

The first thing to know is that you do not have to target that belly fat with abdominal exercises. Yes, it’s tempting to think that’s how it works, but you will be better off targeting all-round weight loss, which will automatically drop those pounds from the waistline. Attempting spot reduction at any body region is not the way to go.

Second, you don’t have to always do exercises that pointedly target the abdominal muscles. Many exercises are available that require you to contract the abs and work them strongly. Full-body, compound exercises like deadlifts and squats are good examples – and they are important exercises for all-round weight loss as well.

10 Exercises to Give You Great Abdominals

You can’t do better than these 10 exercises when focusing on the abs.

  • Crunches: You can perform the crunch on an exercise ball or floor mat.
  • Sit Ups. Do sit ups the right way and they are not dangerous. Don't place the hands behind the neck. Do cross them in front of you or slide them along the thighs to the knee. Bend the knees at 45 degree angle.
  • Bicycle Crunch: research says this floor exercise is one of the best exercises for the rectus abdominus muscle.
  • Captain’s chair / hanging leg raises: Use the Captain's Chair equipment or pull-up bar for an effective bodyweight exercise
  • Wheel Rollouts
  • Fitball rollouts: Use and exercise ball for this move that targets the rectus abdominis muscle.
  • Deadlifts: This barbell exercise enlists the abdominals to stabilize the body.
  • Squats: There are over a dozen variations of the squat. Mix them up in your routines to challenge your body in new walks.
  • Bent over rows: Use dumbbells for this exercise that works the back and the abs.
  • Seated cable rows: The cable machine is your friend with this exercise.

More Ab Workouts for Your Goals

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