A visible six-pack is a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle. In other words, so long as you eat clean and train hard and keep your body fat low, a shredded midsection should follow suit.
So abs training is a waste of time, right? Wrong.
Training your abs — and more importantly, your core — is critical to reduce the risk of injury and increase stability. And when we say “abs” we don’t just mean the rectus abdominis, what’s commonly referred to as the “six-pack muscle.” The internal and external obliques, serratus, external intercostals and transverse abdominis muscles all require attention as well.
And while the crunch and sit-up are arguably the most commonly known abs exercises, you don’t need to get onto the filthy floor to give your core a workout. Try adding these off-the-ground abs movements into your current abs/core routine. You can do them in a circuit, perform each exercise for time or reps, or add weight or resistance to make them more challenging.
Hanging Leg Raise
Hang from a pull-up bar. With control, extend your legs and raise them out in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. (If you’re advanced, attempt to bring your toes to the bar.) Slowly lower your legs until you reach the start position.
*Suitable substitutions: hanging knee raise, hanging oblique raise, and Captain’s chair leg raise
Standing Cable Crunch
Attach a rope to the high pulley of a cable station. Stand a few inches in front of the rope and pull it down so it’s draped around your neck. Engage your core as you lower your torso toward the floor. Pause, and then return to the start position.
Med Ball Standing Russian Twist
Grasp a medicine ball with both hands and hold it out in front of your chest. Bend your knees slightly and twist to one side as far as possible. Be sure to pivot on the foot of the side you’re twisting toward.
Swiss Ball Crunch
Lie on a Swiss ball so the ball rests on your lower back. Place your hands across your chest or behind your head and perform a standard crunch. Do not pull your neck forward as you crunch. Return to the start position.
Lying Obliquie Raise
Lie sideways on a flat bench so your upper body is hanging off of the bench. Have a training partner hold your feet. Place your hands behind your head and lower your torso toward the floor. Using momentum or twisting during this movement can lead to injury.
*Suitable substitution: oblique chair bend — sit on the edge of a chair, keep your feet on the ground, place your hands behind your head, and bring your left elbow toward your left hip. Slowly return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side.
Sit on the edge of a chair and grab the edges of the chair with both hands. Your back should not be pressed against the backrest. Slightly bend your knees, lean back about 30 degrees, and slowly bring your knees to your chest. With control, return to the start position. That’s one rep. Repeat.
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