Do your ab workouts actually work? Or are you just wasting your time (or rather, is all your hard work going to waste?) We’ve taken five popular exercises and replaced them with ones you should opt for instead, giving you better results and thus a more effective workout.
Don’t Waste Your Time with Basic Crunches
The basic crunch doesn’t actually fully engage your abdominal muscles.
Do a Plank Instead
It’s more stimulating on your abdomen than regular crunches and works the muscles in your back as well.
Method: Supporting yourself on your forearms and the balls of your feet, bridge up and position your body in one straight line. Pull your abs in tight and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Don’t Waste Your Time with Ab Rockers
The ab rocker was proven to be no more effective than the traditional crunch.
Do Bicycle Crunches Instead
This exercise is successful in strengthening oblique muscles, and it also stimulates more abdominal activity than the traditional crunch, including your lower stomach.
Method: Lying on your back, bring your knees up to form a 90-degree angle and keep your hands by your temples. Crunch up and twist across the body while simultaneously performing a bicycle motion with your legs. Repeat for 20-30 reps total.
Don’t Waste Your Time with Straight-leg Sit-ups
This puts a huge strain on the lower back by provoking you to force your upper body forward in an attempt to touch your toes. No thanks.
Do a Side Plank Instead
Side planks can activate your obliques giving them more tone, and also stimulate your glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner/outer thighs and upper body.
Method: Lie on your side with your forearm perpendicular to your body and one foot stacked over the other. Bridge your hip up and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Don’t Waste Your Time with Standing Dumbbell Side Bends
Isolating the obliques in this way is not natural and can add unnecessary strain to your back. Also, many people use the momentum that the dumbbells create and rock side-to-side instead of properly engaging their muscles.
Do Vertical Leg Crunches Instead
It stimulates abdominal activity more than a traditional crunch does.
Method: Lie on your back with your legs up in the air, knees slightly bent. Try to touch your ankles with your hands by contracting just your abs, keeping your chin off your chest. Repeat for 12-16 reps.
Don’t Waste Your Time with Seated Twists
Seated twists do nothing but rotate your lower back beyond its safe range of motion. They can also lead to injury if you aren’t careful, especially if you’re using a machine and don’t know how to control the movement or what weight to use.
Do Reverse Crunches Instead
They engage your lower abdomen and obliques more efficiently.
Method: Lie on your back with your hands tucked under your butt and your knees bent. Bring your legs up until they form a 90-degree angle from your torso. Do a pelvic tilt and pull your knees in towards your chest, squeeze and slowly lower to starting position. Do 15-20 reps.