The Absolute Best Ab Workout
This One is Different, and Scientifically Proven
Okay, let’s get one thing straight right now; even the best ab workout is not going to give you a flat stomach or a nice 6-pack down there unless you do one thing. What is that? It’s simple, lose the layer of fat obscuring your abdominal muscles. If you don’t all the crunches, sit ups, leg lifts and twisting leg raises in the world won’t do a darn thing for how your belly looks. Oh, you’ll have a stellar set of abs, they’ll just be hidden from view. An old bodybuilding saying is that great abs are built in the gym, but sculpted in the kitchen.
There are other reasons to have that stellar set of abs besides getting people to look at the gym or beach, though. They contribute substantially to a strong core, which is the foundation from which you build a strong body and stay free from injuries. Much of your athletic performance, such as hitting a softball or base ball, throwing just about anything, running, punching, kicking, and rowing is due in large part to your core strength.
So, great having abs is not all about appearances, but that sure is the reason most people want to build a set. Here is the absolute best ab workout. It will help get you that fantastic set of abs, and not just the abdominal muscles down the front either, but the supporting cast that help define those superstars on center stage. These are the obliques (there are internal and external obliques) and transverse abdominis, which give you the strength to twist and straighten when you’re bent sideways, and define the side of your abdominal section. Almost all the twisting force is supplied by your obliques.
If you do nothing but crunches, leg raises, and situps, you are hitting your primary adominal muscles, the rectus abdominis, hard, but you’re neglecting these other muscles. That is an oversight you won’t make again after today.
Below is the absolute best ab workout I’ve ever found. It has some different elements that you won’t find in a traditional ab workout, but hey, that’s why it’s the best. You’ll see the big difference later… no peeking! You’ll notice how sprinters and other speed/strength athletes, such as football defensive backs and wide receivers, have spectacular abs. Part of the reason is due to years of sprint training. That’s one ting I’ve done differently; incorporated high intensity sprint training into my ab routines. It has worked very well. High intensity sprint training also help lose the layer of fat obstructing everyone’s view of the abdominal muscles.
How Often Should I Work My Abs?
This is a good question and one often asked in the gym. Like any other muscle, the abdominal muscles need some recovery time. You can’t work them every day and expect the best results. They do recover faster than other muscles though, so you can work them more frequently than other muscles. For most people that means every other day, or in some cases, every third day.
A common misconception is that you should do very high repetitions for ab work. Unless you’re training specifically for endurance, this is not the case. If you want that solid ab, 6-pack look, stick with relatively lower numbers of reps in the 8-12 range. You’ll probably have to use extra eight for resistance to get a good workout if you’re only doing 8 – 12 reps.
The Ab Workout Lab Study
Thankfully there is no need to guess what the most effective ab exercises are. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned a study on that very subject. The study was performed at San Diego State University’s biomechanics lab, and led by Dr. Peter Francis. I know they can’t do as good of a job as the guys down at your local gym, but bear with me for a second.
To measure exactly how much each exercise stimulated the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles, the research team used a high tech measurement technique called electromyography, understandably abbreviated as EMG. The EMG data was very revealing. The EMG machine directly examines the electrical stimulation activity in the muscles, so it will show exactly how much muscle is recruited and to what degree, for any exercise movement. To determine how much subjects had to use their hip flexors to help the abdominal muscles perform the exercises, the hip flexor muscles were examined as well.
The team used 13 test subjects and analyzed 13 different abdominal exercises. The traditional ab standby, the crunch, was set as the baseline. They assigned the amount of activity required to do these crunches as 100. Now I don’t want to get all of you people who have been using crunches as the mainstay of your ab routine up in arms, but it was about the least effective of all the exercises tested. It never finished higher than 11th out of the 13 exercises. I’ve done thousands of crunches myself, so thinking about all the time I wasted didn’t make me too happy, either.
The Study’s Best Ab Exercises
The Absolute Best Ab Workout consists of the two best ab exercises 4 days a week, with the 3rd best thrown in 2 days a week. What ab movements finished at the top of the heap in the study? The best ab exercises, as scientifically measured by the EMG machine, are:
1 – The lying bicycle. In this exercise you lay on your back, lift your legs off the ground about 8 inches (20.5cm for those of you everywhere but here) and move your legs like you are
pedaling a bicycle. It was on average 248% more effective for abdominal muscles and 290% more effective for the oblique muscles than the crunch.
2 – Captain’s Chair / Hanging Knee Raises – This is a very effective exercise, with the provision you have the equipment necessary to do it. Just about every gym has it, but while you can do bicycles at home, in your office, or in your hotel room, you’ll not find that so easy with hanging knee raises. In any case, it was even more effective for the obliques than the the bicycle, scoring 310% of the activity measured in the crunch. It was no slouch in the abdominal test either, with 212%. I’ve always found these to be extremely effective at developing the lower section of the abdominal region.
3 – Crunches on a fitness ball. – Why it is so much more effective to do crunches on a ball, as opposed to the old fashioned way is a mystery to me, but it sure adds to the effectiveness of the exercise. Exercise physiology types say it has something to do with engaging more core muscles.
Ball crunches were measured at 3rd place on the ab effectiveness scale, coming in at 139% of the crunch. You’ll note that’s a pretty huge drop off from the captain’s chair. They were less effective on the obliques, measuring only 147%, which was 6th out of the 13 exercises. Where ball crunches did excel however, was in generating less activity in the surrounding muscle groups. This means it does a more effective job at isolating the abdominal muscles, while ignoring those close by.
Here is the Absolute Best Ab Workout:
Look, Ma… No Crunches! (sort of)
Every other day:
Lying bicycles: 4 sets of 8-12 reps – use ankle weights to increase intensity, and keep the reps to under 12.
Hanging knee raises: 3 sets of 8-12 reps – use ankle weights to increase intensity, and keep the reps to under 12.
Every other workout do a couple of sets of fitness ball crunches to spice things up and keep your ab muscles a bit confused.
The Absolute Best Ab Workout Difference:
Finally, here is what separates this ab workout from most others you’ll find out there. Twice a week you’ll do 6 x 200m sprints, all the F out for the entire 200. Warm up first. Check with your physician to ensure you’re in good enough physical condition to do this. Doing these on a traditional track works great. You’ll do a 200, then walk directly back across the track. That gives you just about enough recovery time. As soon as you get back to the starting point, do another, until you’ve completed 6 200 meter sprints.
Not only will adding the 200 meter sprints to your ab workout give you an amazing set of abs, but it will add muscle to your legs and really help your cardiovascular fitness as well. Trust me, unless you are doing something similar already, you’ll notice a huge difference in how far and how fast you can run after only about 2 or 3 weeks of this. Try to do every sprint faster than the one before. If you can do them in under 30 seconds, that’s pretty darn fast for most people.
Okay, that about does it for the Absolute Best AB Workout. Go forth and get ripped, but remember, you can have the best set of abs in the world, but no one will see them if they’re hiding under a layer of fat around your belly!
Ab Exercise Orgasms?
One ab exercise is reported to cause orgasms in about 15% of women who do them. The key seems to be pushing it to the limit. Makes for a more compelling reason to work extra hard. Next time you see an ear to ear grin after a tough ab set, you’ll know why!
What’s your favorite ab routine? Leave it in the comments, please.
Check out my next post on the top Ab Workout DVDs.
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