It's a great feeling when you look in the mirror and see a tone, tight, muscular stomach. You feel a sense of accomplishment from your dedication to healthy eating and an intense workout routine. When training your abs, selecting the best exercises is just as important as doing them.
Your abdominal muscles are split into three sections. You have one muscle that is the deepest layer and wraps around your core like a corset. When you tighten your stomach as if trying to button a tight pair of pants, you are contracting your transverse abdominis. Along the sides of your abdomen, you have a pair of obliques that contract when you rotate your torso. Down the front of your abdomen lies the rectus abdominis, which shortens when you curl your trunk or bring your ribs toward your hips.
Dr. Peter Francis at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University studied 13 different abdominal exercises to remove the guesswork for you. You want the most effective ab exercises for the rectus abdominis, which is the muscle that appears as a six pack, and the obliques, also known as the love handle area. Select from exercises that don't require equipment such as the bicycle maneuver, vertical leg crunch, long arm crunch, reverse crunch, crunch with heel push or the hover.
A calisthenic-based abdominal routine may not give you a complete workout. If you have access to equipment, the captain's chair, exercise ball crunch, ab wheel and ab glider machines ranked the highest according to the study led by Dr. Peter Francis. Include a variety of exercises into your abdominal workout and aim to spend five minutes a day concentrating on your ab exercises.
Diet and Exercise
Your abs may be beautiful, tone and shapely, but hidden underneath a layer of fat. Abdominal strengthening does not burn fat off the surface of your belly. Include cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running and cycling to remove fat stores. Also, eat a healthy diet to avoid storing more fat on your newly developed ab muscles.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.