What’s the best exercise you can do to strengthen your ab muscles that doesn’t involve doing a plain ol’ crunch?
In this article I’m going to show you how to create a killer six-pack by focusing your training beyond doing crunches all the time.
Yes, you don’t need this universal abdominal exercise to harder your core muscles. In fact, if you really want to create an impressive six-pack, nothing’s going to keep you from reaching your potential than performing the ordinary crunch over and over again.
Does this sound familiar? You’re lying on the floor. The knees are up, and your hands are clutched behind your head. You breathe out as you lift in your shoulder blades off the ground.
As you pull up you feel the abs contract.
A second ticks by as you hold in the top position, and then you release back down to the floor, eagerly inhaling before you start on the next rep. Normally, you do 15-20 reps, and aim for 3-4 sets before you call it a day.
This is a typical beginner’s routine. And it works great when you’re a beginner.
But you need a whole new game plan once you reach intermediate status.
These Common Ab Exercises Are Your Enemy…
Okay, so you’ve done crunches, reverse crunches, sit ups…the list will go on.
For most beginners, these exercises are generally the “go to” options.
And why not? They’re pretty much listed in every fitness magazine.
Even celebrities tout them as being essential to creating a sexy six-pack.
But just because something’s common practice doesn’t mean it’s going to the most effective. It just means even a beginner can do it.
When you’re just starting out, any exercise will probably offer you enough results for you to say: Hey! This is working.
But what happens when your muscles adapt? You can’t very well stay on point with the same movements.
Sure you can add reps to your plan. Before you know it though your ab routine will go from a quick 20-minute session to an hour-long marathon.
Adding reps and sets will get you turning around any slowed progress.
What’s at stake is just your time, energy and patience. That’s all.
Unless you’ve got a time-traveling DeLorean parked in the garage, this isn’t practical.
The body is pretty quick to pick up how to do any movement. It’s actually able to become efficient with tasking the muscles to carry out any contraction.
For about the first 3-6 months you can expect to find yourself enjoying the benefits of a movement like crunches.
After that, however, it’s time to move on.
Try These Exercises Instead…
In past articles I’ve mentioned several ways better the look of your abs from training the surround muscles (see: using serratus anterior exercises) or to use a diet plan designed to blast off fat (see: a simple diet plan to burn fat off).
For the typical trainer, there’s a greater need to work off trouble areas like love handles and on the lower abs.
Getting your body to a low amount of body fat is truly the only way to getting your six-pack muscles to become visible.
Yet, when the abs aren’t blurred by a layer of fat, you’ll want them looking as good as possible. A wise bit of advice is to start using better ab exercises, so the muscles look dense, toned and their best.
Crunches are one of the better exercises for the beginner because they’re pretty hard to muck up. Just get on the floor and bust them out.
You probably even saw some good results while they were in your ab routine.
But what do you do when you’ve mastered the same abdominal contraction?
My Favorite Ab Exercises:
- Ab Roll Out (works well with either a wheel or stability ball)
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Lying Leg-Raises
- Resistance Band Chops
- Renegade Rows
- Serratus Crunch
If you’re not certain how many reps you need to go per set, always caution on not reaching failure.
That’s right. It’s more important to teach your muscles to succeed with a strength-building program than having them flat line and burn out.
Whenever you train, make sure you’re providing your body with positive bio-feed back.
Unlike with most muscle groups, you can actually get a way with performing high reps when working with the abs. This is because your abdominal muscles are just that: a bunch muscles.
Several smaller sets of muscle are woven together—like the Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis and the Obliques—and a lot of blood gets worked into this area.
Oxygen-rich blood lets muscles recover quick.
So this is one area that has the quickest rebound time. Even after being hit hard.
Just don’t work them in submission all the time. Otherwise, you won’t see any results.
Make Sure You Do Compound Movements, Too
There are enough people out there who aren’t aware that you don’t always need to do a routine directly targeting the abs.
One of the cleverest ways to make to develop your abs to skip them, and instead focus on compound movements.
Squats are great for working multiple areas of the lower body. And the abs are no exception.
If you’re planning to lift weights, the dead lift is another of the best lower-body exercises you can do. From this one exercise, you’re be able to stimulate several muscle groups in one motion.
End Lower Back Pain, Another Reason to Switch Ab Exercises
Another reason you might want to skip the crunches is because they’re known for causing unwanted lower back pain.
Have you ever heard of load sharing?
This is common even if you’re a stickler for performing each exercise with proper form.
What happens is when you’re tasking one muscle over another in the group, there’s always one stabilizer muscle that’ll be forced to pick up the slack.
This is usually when crunches push the lower back into being the fall guy. The Rectutus Adbominis gets all the attention while the lower back has to pick up the rest of the load.
This is also very common when performing any of those “big lifts” with a barbell.
Now that you’ve gotten the chance to look over a few of the ab exercises in this article I want you to consider one thing:
No matter what exercises you do, or even if you set aside a separate day for an ab routine—instead of doing them with your regular workout—you need keep trying new versions and adapt based on your needs.
That’s the only way you’ll truly see long-lasting results.
Now I pass it to you. What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite exercise that I didn’t list here? Or do you think crunches are always the way to go?
Oh, and don’t forget to share this on Twitter and Facebook and with everyone else