Even though many women avoid strength training, most of them still have abs workout routine of their own. This is good, since strong core muscles not only make you look good, but also prevent many potential injuries. Unfortunately, many women think the best abdominal exercise is which creates 6 pack abs. It is not totally wrong, but there are more than one group of abdominal muscles, and the best abdominal exercises work all of them.
What Are They?
Here is a short descriptions of the abdominal muscle group.
The Transverse Abdominal Muscle
This is most important, and most internal abdominal muscles of our body. If the transverse abdominal muscles are weak, it is difficult to keep a good posture or balance. The worst case, internal organs could rapture the muscle wall and causes painful hernias. This is the core muscles responsible for many athletic functionalities.
Many people think this is THE abdominal muscles, since this creates “six pack”. Well, it is not true, and in fact, it is less important than three other abdominal muscles regarding to daily activities, though it still has an important role in our body. If you train this muscle, it will tight up your abdominal area and it makes your waist smaller.
Internal and External Abdominal Oblique Muscles
There are two sets of abdominal oblique muscles, internal and external. They are oriented 90 degree to one another These muscles flexion and rotation of the torso. These muscles are also very important for almost all daily activities.
Most Popular Abdominal Workout Without Equipments
You don’t need an exercise equipment to build your abdominal muscles. There are so many safe and effective ways to strengthen your stomach muscles. Here are the best ab workouts without any equipmenst.
- Bicycle Exercise
- Lie face up and your your head lightly with your fingers.
- Bring left knee toward the chest and lift the right shoulder blade off the floor without pulling on the neck.
- Rotate to the left, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee as you straighten the other leg.
Switch sides, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee.
- Vertical Leg Crunch
- Lie on your back and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed.
- Place your hands behind the head for support.
- Crunch the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor.
- Keep the legs in a fixed position. If it is difficult, rest the foot on the wall.
- Long Arm Crunch
- Lie on your back and extend the arms straight out like a rabbit ears but hands clasped.
- Crunch the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor.
- If you feel neck pain, use one hand to support the head while keeping the other arm extended.
- Reverse Crunch
- Lie on your back and place hands side of your body.
- Bring the both knees in towards the chest until they’re bent to 90 degrees. Keep feet together or crossed.
- Crunch the abs to lift the hips off the floor as if reaching the legs up towards the ceiling.
- Plnk Pose
- Assume push up position, but on your elbow.
- Keep the body line straight from head to heels.
- Hold the position 20 – 60 seconds.
- Leg Swing
- Lie on your back and place your hands out about 45 degree angle.
- Bring legs 90 degree angle straight up to the ceiling.
- Slowly lower the legs to one side as far as you can, then bring back to the center.
- Do the same for the other side.
Abdominal Exercise Machines
You don’t need an exercise equipment to build your abdominal muscles, but for a beginner, certain exercise machines may be helpful to prevent injuries. Some women get back pain (and neck pain) while doing the abdominal workouts described in the previous section because they don’t yet have strong enough abdominal muscles to support the lower back. Some abdominal exercise equipment may prevent these problems.
If you are a gym member, the best abdominal exercise equipment is a captain’s chair in which you rest your back and elbows while raising and lowering your knees. This captain’s chair is very effective and safe. People rarely get back problem and you won’t get any neck pain. It is top-rated by the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University.
If you don’t have an access to a gym, an exercise ball is the one of the best abdominal exercise equipment you can get. It costs less than $40, and the usage of the exercise ball is not limited to the abdominal workout. Even if you have an access to the gym, you may want to use it. You can do a wide variety of abdominal exercises with the ball, but you should start with basic crunch and oblique exercises. Since the ball is soft and can support your back all the time, you won’t get back problem. However, you may find it difficult to use at the beginning.
Another gym equipment you may want to use is an abs machine in which you push forward with your chest against a pad to get a crunch motion. This is another machine that is safe for your lower back. At home, you can do exactly the same workout with a stretch band. You can find a stretch band for about $10, and most of them last a long time.
Because of his infomercial, Ab Roller (Body by Jake) is one of the most popular of the abdominal exercise equipments. It certainly prevents neck pain, and possibly lower back pain (if you use it correctly) but it was ranked lowest by the San Diego State University study for effectiveness. If you already own one (or you can get it from someone for free), it is a good one to start with. If you are thinking buy a new abs equipment, buy an exercise ball.
Another popular abdominal exercise machine is Ab Slider (or Ab Tracker) with which you hold handles on a wheel and roll back and forth. I don’t recommend this one for beginners, as I observed some people get wrists, elbow, and/or shoulder pain, because they don’t have strong arm muscles. The San Diego State University study also rated it low. Note: if you are strong, this ab machine can be very effective in developing core strength.
Don’t use the decline bench for abdominal workout if you are a beginner. It is not safe for beginners, and you can get a better abdominal workout without the bench.
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