Best Ab-strengthening Exercises

Effective abdominal exercises will help control some of the fat on the belly, but that shouldn't be the ultimate goal of doing them. To get rid of an undesirable layer of fat you'll need to make changes to your diet and increase your cardio exercise which is what burns the fat. Do ab exercises to strengthen your core to help with your posture, protect your spine, and reduce back pain and the chance of injury. Not all ab strengthening exercises are equal. Here's a look at the ones that'll work the best at strengthening your core muscles without the use of additional equipment.

The Bicycle

Lay flat on your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles and use them to press your lower back firmly to the ground. You'll need to slightly tilt your pelvis forward. Using the muscles of your core, not your leg muscles, slowly bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle. Put one hand on either side of your head, relax your shoulders so they're not up by your ears and pull your shoulders back to open the chest. Move your legs in a slow pedal motion and alternate touching your left elbow to your right knee and your right elbow to your left knee. Be careful not to pull on your neck when you lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Complete one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps while keeping breathing relaxed and even.

Vertical Leg Crunch

This exercise strengthens the obliques (muscles along the side of your abdomen) and the rectus abdominis (muscle in the center of your abdomen from your pelvis to under your ribs). Lie on the floor and engage your stomach muscles in the same way as you did with the Bicycle. Using your stomach muscles raise your legs and extend them straight up with your knees crossed. Place your arms straight along your sides with the palms facing down for support. Or place your hands by your head as you did in the Bicycle. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your shoulder blades off the floor while bringing your belly button towards your spine. Repeat for one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps.

The Plank

This exercise strengthens the abs, the back and your stabilizer muscles. Lie face down on the floor with your forearms up and palms flat on the floor. Tighten all your core muscles and push yourself off the floor and onto your toes and distribute your weight between your elbows and your toes. Keep your back flat. Imagine you're balancing a cup of tea in the middle of your back. To keep your back flat, tilt your pelvis slightly and don't sag or raise your behind in the air. Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds and release. Repeat for three to five reps.

 

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