There are many reasons to work out your abs: you can do so to tone up a bit, improve your health, or simply to sharpen them and have them become stronger.
In this article, I will present 5 exercises: 2 aimed to make your abs stronger, 3 to make them bigger.
I advise you to try the 5 exercises in order to fully exploit your hypertrophic potential as well as your working strength. In the long-term, you’ll benefit from both. If you often lift heavy weights through compound movements such as deadlifts or squats, however, this will be more than enough to develop your abdominal muscles, given their important solicitation during these exercises.
Nevertheless, if you want some fine-tuning, or to touch-up your abs a bit, then you should definitely consider adding these exercises to your routine for abs of steel.
1- Dumbbell Side Bend
Grab a dumbbell, at a weight allowing you to perform between 5 – 15 reps. For this exercise, there is no need to bend excessively- just enough to solicit the obliques.
Great exercise for a strong waist. Start in a push up position, and support yourself on your elbows. Hold this position for as long as possible. You can increase the difficulty by asking a friend to put a weight on your back, or by lifting an arm or leg of the ground.
3- Incline Ab Crunches With Weights
Lay down on a incline bench, being careful not to arch your back or spine. In order to have a maximum contraction, try to reach your feet using only the strength from your abs. Try to reach your knees with your elbows. Beware not to put too much pressure on your cervical!
Aim to complete between 5 and 15 reps.
4- Roman Chair With Inclined Legs
Hang from a bar or use a roman chair. The aim here is to bring your knees back to your torso, using solely your abs. Release your legs in order to stretch your abs, but don’t overdo it.
Also avoid swinging your legs, for this greatly decreases the efficiency of the exercise.
5- Russian Twists
Finally, my favorite exercise 🙂
If you have the correct form, this movement strengthens your whole abdominal area. Grab light weights (from 5 to 10 pounds) and sit on the floor. While holding the weights, lean back (around 45°). Rotate your trunk on both sides of your body, touching the weights to the floor with each twist. Do not use your shoulders, or your elbows to twist- only your core!
Train your abs as you would train any other muscle. Training them between 1 – 2 times a week is more than enough; doing 400 reps on a daily basis is not only useless, but also counterproductive.
- If you are a beginner training 1 to 2 times per week, consider doing 3 sets, and 5 to 10 reps per set. (= 30 total repetitions).
- If you are at an intermediary or advanced level, consider doing 3 to 6 sets (= 60 to 90 total repetitions).
Remember, when it comes to having visible abs, your diet is what matters the most; unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce. Keeping this in mind, there is no need to over-train.
Usually, abs become visible at around sub-10% for men, and sub-15% for women . Only your diet can bring you there.