Having difficulty achieving a tighter and stronger midsection with your current ab routine? A not-so-obvious problem might be a lack of abdominal weight-training. When you initially begin exercising your abs, you certainly want to start using your bodyweight solely. As you progress with your routine, however, you need to step up your intensity. The best way to do so is by implementing weights into your workouts. This will allow you to further challenge your ab muscles, therefore further increasing your strength levels and tightening up your stomach.
Performing the crunch primarily targets your rectus abdominis. This is the muscle that gives a six-pack appearance of the stomach. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and lie face-up on the ground.
Position each dumbbell over your chest region with your arms extended.
Raise your upper back, rounding it in the process, as much as possible. Keep your lower back on the ground during this motion. Pause for a beat at the top.
Lower your upper back, straightening it in the process, until you return to the beginning position.
Weighted Twisting Crunch
Performing the twisting crunch mainly works the obliques. These are a group of two muscles that give the curved appearance at the sides of the stomach. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie your back down on the ground.
Position the dumbbells over your chest region with your arms straight.
Move your upper back off the ground in a twisting motion towards the right, rounding your upper back during the movement. Do not move your lower back off the ground during the movement.
Move your upper back down to the ground, straightening your upper back during the movement. Repeat the movement with the other side, and keep alternating between the two sides until you reach the desired number of repetitions.
- Do three to five sets for each exercise. During each set, perform 10 to 12 reps. Take a two-minute rest period in between each set to allow your abdominal muscles to adequately recover prior to the next set.
- For each abdominal, or spine-flexing, exercise you perform, make sure to also perform a spine-extending exercise. Neglecting to do so will result in a muscular imbalance between the spine-flexing and spine-extending muscles, which will thus lead to postural problems. You can perform the spine-extending exercises either following the abdominal exercises, or during a separate workout. Among the exercises you can perform for the spine-extending muscles are the weighted hyperextension and the seated machine hyperextension.
Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in Bodybuilding.com and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.