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Finding The Best Abdominal Exercise for Your Ab Workouts

Jul 3, 2008
Since I am a personal trainer, I am often asked... What is the Best Abdominal Exercise?

And my answer is often it depends on the goal.

Now, I know most people want to know what is the best abdominal exercise to get rid of fat on their stomach, but unfortunately ab exercises by themselves do very little to help you get rid of stomach fat.

This is known as the spot reduction myth. Because of the powerful marketing companies, consumers continually think that they can work a spot on their body and magically melt fat away from that spot, but that is not how the body works.

Abdominal Exercises are useful for supporting good posture, preventing lower back pain, and improving function and sports performance. Abdominal Exercises are not good for spot reduction of belly fat.

Okay, back to the best abdominal exercise.

There was a study done called finding the safest abdominal challenge measuring work to compression ratio. This study looked at 9 ab exercises and compared the muscle work in the abs to the pressure in the lower back during each exercise.

According to this study, the exercise that worked the abdominal muscles the hardest while putting the least pressure on the lower back was crunches with the feet on a bench or ball. When the feet are lifted it takes away some of the arch in the lower back and takes some pressure off the joints.

In addition, the exercise that worked the abdominal muscles the hardest also put the most pressure on the lower back and that exercise was double hanging leg raises.

To determine which exercise is the best you must take into consideration the fitness goal. For example if someone has a slightly achy lower back, crunches with the feet up may be the best abdominal exercise because it works the abs really hard but does not put a ton of pressure on the lower back.

However, if you are an athlete looking for serious core strength, double hanging leg raises might be the best abdominal exercise for you.

And what about the oblique muscles. The external and internal oblique muscles actually work really hard when you move forwards, like in crunches or sit ups, but in order to maximize the muscle work in the obliques you must incorporate twisting, rotation, or side bending.

So if you wanted to find the best exercise to strengthen the obliques you might do side planks, bicycle crunches, or oblique crunches.

Nearly all exercises have a benefit, so the most important thing is to be active and exercise. The best exercise for you may be the one that you like the most because you can consistently do it.

Whatever ab exercise you choose, keep good form and stay consistent!
About the Author
Dr. Charles A. Inniss, Jr. is a physical therapist and personal trainer.

Click the link to his website for free pictures and descriptions of more than 50 ab exercises
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