Effective, fun and easy on the lower back… that’s a lot to ask from an abdominal exercise. However, this is a list of 5 ab exercises that I find to meet the desired criteria and truly exhaust the abdominal muscles.
As with all exercises, keeping proper form is key. Two things to remember:
- Form & Movement. You don’t want incessive, uncontrolled movement. An effective movement implies contraction (achieved at the slightest curvature of the back), keeping form at contraction point, then repeating. Bringing you head/ legs all the way up as fast as you can won’t do you any good and it may leave you with lower back pain.
- Focus. Truly focus on the abdominal contraction so you isolate the lower back and avoid pains.
My top 5 Ab Exercises
1. Plank (yes, yes, the almighty plank)
- Assume the push-up/ press-up position. Your hands should be straight, directly under your chest, and shoulder-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles, so keep your bellybutton sucked in (keep your abs contracted) and don’t let your backside hang down.
- Keep this position for at least 20 seconds and gradually increase your planking time as your core becomes stronger.
2. The Mountain Climber
- Assume the plank position;
- Alternating the legs, aim for your knee to come as close as possible to the chest.
- Do not lose proper form in order to touch your knee to the chest;
- When you come to be in good control of the movement and desire to increase difficulty, you can add ankle weights if they feel comfortable.
3. Seated Flat Bench Leg Pull-In
- Sit at the end of a flat bench, hold the sides of the bench with your hands and suspend your (crossed) legs until they are parallel to the floor.
- Pull your legs to your torso by bending the knees.
4. Knee to Elbow Decline Crunch
- Lie on a declined ab bench with your hands to your head.
- Crunch (slight curvature of the back until contraction point) while aiming with one elbow to the opposite knee.
- Alternate elbows.
4. Kneeling Cable Crunch alternating with Knee to Elbow Kneeling Cable Crunch
- Kneel before a cable-weight set.
- Grab the handle above your head and pull down as if you’re aiming to touch your elbows to your knees.
- Alternate this movement (both elbows to both knees) with the Knee to Elbow variation (elbow to opposite knee).