Best Exercises for Abs
Rectus Abdominis (commonly called abs) is responsible for stabilizing and flexing the spine. Thus, it’s important to train the muscle both with concentric and isometric exercises.
Performing crunches with a cable machine is the best way to progressively train the muscle with greater resistance. Most exercises for abs require many repetitions to fatigue the muscle, producing endurance gains but not strength or size. With Cable Crunch, it’s easy to hit fatigue within a few repetitions and to track progress made over time.
- Use the rope attachment
- Adjust the height of the pulley so that the end of the rope is at about hip height
- Kneel down in front of the rope, keeping the glutes high above the ankles
- Grab an end of the rope with each hand
- Bring hands down next to the ears
- Breathing out and keeping the elbows locked, contract the core and flex the spine to bring the rope down toward the midsection,
- Return to starting position
Hollow Body Hold
Most people probably think of the Plank when thinking of an isometric/static abs exercise. Plank is a decent exercise but it’s easy to hold incorrectly, can put a lot of tension on the lower back, and will require holding for a long time once the abs get stronger. Hollow Body Hold is the simpler, safer, and more effective isometric exercise. It’s also a prerequisite for many calisthenics movements. All you have to do is lie on your lower back.
- Lie down on your back
- Extend your arms past your ears
- Lift the legs and shoulders off the ground slightly so that only the glutes and lower back are in contact with the floor
- Hold the position
Toes to Bar Raises
A common exercise seen in the gym is Knee Raises. The problem with this exercise is it’s not really an exercise that targets the abs. The spine is not flexed so the abs are only contracting isometrically while the hip flexors are doing most of the work to raise the knees. If the aim is to target the abs, a simple crunch is more effective.
If performed correctly, Toes to Bar Raises is a very good exercise for abs while also hitting the hip flexors. The abs are working isometrically as legs are raised parallel to the ground and then concentrically as spine is flexed while the legs are raised to the bar. Unfortunately, it’s easy to cheat the second phase of the movement and to rotate the torso forward as the legs are raised instead of flexing the spine. In that case the abs are only working isometrically for the entire duration of the movement.
- Begin in the pull up position
- Keeping the legs straight, lift the legs until parallel with the floor
- Continue to contract the abs and without moving the hips forward, raise the legs up until toes touch the bar
- Return to starting position with control