[social_warfare]There are two main types of exercises for abs. The most common type is where you work the abs dynamically, as in crunches for example. In the second type, the focus is on using the deep abdominal muscles to hold the pelvis steady. If you want good ab tone, then you should do a mixture of both.
Pelvic stability exercises for abs
Exercises which focus on holding the pelvis stable work the muscles that give you flat abs. Examples are stability ball and balance board exercises, most Pilates exercises, plank holds and barre workouts. These muscles are often quite weak, even in people who exercise a lot. If they are weak, then training needs to start with the basics of finding “neutral” pelvis. Trying to do advanced core strengthening exercises isn’t a good idea for beginners, because it could cause low back injury. See Core Exercises for Beginners to find out more about this.
Dynamic exercises for abs
This sort of ab exercise is used more in fitness programs. Examples are crunches and all their variations, side bends, upper body rotations and Russian twists. This type of exercise isn’t likely to give you flat abs, however there are several reasons why dynamic exercises are more popular:
- They are more straightforward, simple exercises. Doing pelvic stability exercises for abs effectively requires an understanding of pelvic alignment. It also requires focus and concentration.
- People tend to like to train muscles that show. Dynamic abs exercises work the “6-pack” muscles.
- They are generally more energetic than stabilising exercises, so it feels like they’re “doing something”, whereas training the deepest muscle layer can feel less like a proper workout.
Which exercises should you choose?
If you want good ab tone, then you need to do a variety of abs exercises:
- Crunch type exercises which to the top layer (the “6-pack”)
- Side bending and twisting exercises to work the middle 2 layers (the obliques)
- Pelvic stabilising exercises to work the deepest layer (the transverse muscle)
Exercises for abs round up
Here’s a list of workouts to get you started. All of them have full instructions and printable exercise charts.
This is a step by step guide to developing the strength and flexibility to do the Pilates roll up exercise. The roll up works the 6 pack muscles, but also works the core stabilisers, as they control movement through the spine.
This plank workout mainly works the core stabilisers, but the side plank also works the oblique muscles