What is Abs Exercise?
Abs or abdomen exercise fall into the category of strength training. Your abdomen is categorized as a large body muscle and comprises transversus abdominis (paired lateral muscles), external and internal obliques and rectus abdominis (paired vertical muscles). Abs exercises are performed to strengthen your abdomen by building better and more powerful abs.
The abdomen muscles play a prime role in various functions such as breathing, sneezing and maintaining posture. They also perform a supporting role for activities such as urinating, vomiting and defecation. Abs exercises play a significant role in strengthening your core, improving body balance and increasing stability.
How to Do Abs Exercise?
There are countless abs exercises targeting different ab muscles. We are listing down the most common and effective ones below:
This is considered to be the most effective exercise for targeting your lower abs as well as your lower back and legs. It can be performed by laying straight on a yoga mat, keeping your legs together and lifting them up so that they are almost vertical or as high as you can go. Pause and squeeze your abs, then return to the starting position. It can also be done by lying down on an exercise bench and holding a light dumbbell between your feet. Hanging leg raise can be performed by hanging from Olympic rings or a fixed barbell. While hanging, lift your legs up so that they become parallel to the floor or pull in your knees towards your abs. Pause and squeeze, then return to the starting position.
This abs exercise has numerous variations which target different ab muscles. For instance, you can lie down on the floor with your back flat; keep your knees bent at an angle of 45 degrees with your feet resting flat on the floor and your hands clasped behind your head. Roll your upper body slowly towards your knees so that your upper body is at an angle of 45 degrees from the floor. Pause and squeeze. Then return to the starting position. For performing reverse crunches, lie down straight on the floor, keep your legs straight and raise them up so that they are vertical. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, then pull them in towards your chest. Pause and hold. Return to the starting position. Performing crunches at different angles will target different abdomen muscles from the lower section to the uppermost one.
Side Bends and Twists
Stand with your feet shoulders width apart, keep your hands on your hips, twist towards your left so that you feel a stretch on your right side. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement towards your right. You can also hold two dumbbells in both hands, resting side by side with your hips; lean towards your left, return to the starting position and repeat the movement for the other side. You can also perform side twists by using a barbell. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keep the barbell on your shoulders and grip it with your hands. Twist towards the left, then return to the starting position and twist to the right. Repeat. Russian twists can be performed by sitting on the floor with your knees bent at an angle of 45-degrees and feet resting flat. Hold a medicinal ball, rotate your torso towards left and right while keeping your lower body stable.
Tools Used for Abs Exercise
You can perform several abs exercises and all you need is an exercise mat. However, there are many tools and equipment which can enhance the efficiency of your abs exercises.
You will find these in every gym and you will see people using them regularly. The abs bench is primarily used for performing crunches at different angles. You can increase their elevation from being exactly flat to almost as close to 90 degrees. The higher the angle the harder the crunches will be and therefore more effective.
These are used for performing suspended leg and knee raises. They are either fixed in the wall or are in the form of a stand. They have a suspended backrest with armrests on both sides. You lift yourself up with your elbows resting on the armrests and your palms gripping a small bar, while your back rests flat against the backrest. You can raise your legs straight upwards, or you can roll in your knees for performing leg or knee raises.
The exercise ball is a versatile tool which you can use for performing countless exercises for different body parts. You can sit on it and perform side twists using a medicine ball or you can place it under your legs while lying straight on the floor and perform crunches.
If you have not used an abs wheel before and are looking at it for the first time, it may not seem challenging to you at all. It has two wheels joined together with no space in between and two short side bars to grab them. But when you get down on the floor and use this tool you will feel your entire torso stretched to the max. The great thing about this wheel is that it can be categorized as a whole-body exercise tool.
There are countless other tools and gym equipment which you can use for performing abs exercises. These include the rowing machine, ab gliders, ab rollers, power wheels, dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, etc.
Most Effective Abs Warm-up
Regardless of which equipment you prefer to use and which body muscle you want to work out, performing a proper warm-up and cool down is imperative not just for enhancing performance but also for preventing injury and strain.
- Perform a 10-15 running session on a treadmill or use the ellipticals to warm-up.
- Perform a 10–15-minute stretching session especially targeting your lower back.
- Perform a slow walk for 10 minutes on the treadmill.
- Stretch for 10-15 minutes to relax your whole body.
- Use a foam roller on your lower back and Abs to release tension from your muscles.
Abs Exercise Safety Precautions
- Always perform proper warm-up and cool down after a rigorous ab workout.
- If you are using gym equipment, make sure to wipe off the sweat from the seats with a cloth.
- Perfect your form by watching, reading and practicing because the wrong form will result in injury.
- Take help from a trainer if you are new to abs exercises.
- When using weights for performing abs exercise, begin with light weights which are easy to use.
Abs Exercise Common Mistakes to Avoid
- When performing crunches, never jerk your back.
- While crunching, do not sit all the way up, instead an angle of 45 degrees should be enough.
- Do not perform abs exercise if you have a tense lower back already.
- Do not perform the same abs exercises again and again, instead prepare a diverse workout plan.
- Learn the right breathing technique while performing abs exercises.
- Do not perform abs exercises at a high speed; keep it slow.
- Make yoga postures a part of your ab workout routine, especially the ones that specifically target your abs and lower back.