I'm sure it doesn't surprise many nowadays but, in case you didn't already know, traditional sit ups and crunches are some of the least effective ABS exercises!
Commissioned by the American Council of Exercise, Dr Peter Francis, Ph.D. of the San Diego State University, headed up a research team with the aim of discovering the most effective abdominal exercises (of course, in their testing, sit-ups and crunches featured at the bottom for effectiveness of the various abs exercises).
Dr Francis reported that "Sit-ups are ineffective. Most people do sit-ups lying on the floor with either their legs or knees bent. They will then try to sit all the way up, using their hips and not so much their abdominal muscles. This is not only ineffective but also puts tremendous strain on the back", Dr Francis added.
Brace yourself for another (pleasant) surprise. Most of the best stomach flattening exercises can be performed at home
without the aid of fancy abdominal exercise equipment (like the Torso Track, Ab Roller etc.)
It's not necessary to spend loads of money on fancy AB machines to strengthen and tone your abs muscles!
So without further ado these are the Top 5 exercises for strengthening and toning the Rectus Abdominis:
1. Bicycle Crunch Exercise
2. Captains Chair Abdominal Exercise
3. The Exercise Ball Ab Crunch
4. Vertical Leg Crunch
5. Torso Track Long Arm Crunch
The Top 5 Best Abs exercises for strengthening and toning the Obliques:
1. Captains Chair Abdominal Exercise
2. Bicycle Crunch Exercise
3. Reverse Crunch Plank (Hover)
4. Vertical Leg Crunch
5. The Exercise Ball Abs Crunch
See more of the best stomach flattening exercises at free stomach workouts.
For important tips before starting your ABS exercise routines see free exercises to flatten stomach.
Free exercises to flatten stomach and tone ABS
1) Captain's chair abs exercise
A very effective routine for getting six pack ABS and exercising the obliques, and probably the next best after the bicycle ABS exercise.
All the ABS exercises so far are easily performed at home so I thought I would demonstrate how to do the Captain's chair ABS exercise without the use of Gym equipment:
- Starting position: Sit on a comfortable chair with your back vertical and feet flat on the ground. Hold the edges of the chair just at the position of your hips. Rest your palms on the chair and keep your elbow slightly bent.
- The exercise: Exhale while you lift your knees towards your upper body and hold the position for 2 seconds while keeping your back straight. Lower your legs to the starting position and inhale.
Tips: Keep the motion controlled as you raise and lower your knees.
Don't swing or use momentum to raise the legs. You can do the captains chair exercise beginning with 2 sets of 10 reps and work your way to holding the position for longer and increasing the sets and reps.
2) The exercise ball ABS crunch
The exercise ball crunch is perhaps the only ABS toning and stomach flattening exercise out of the top 5 that requires some equipment to perform the routine. It is however a very effective exercise in strengthening your core muscles, and lies at position 3 for strengthening the rectus abdominis.
- Start position: Lie on the ball face up with the ball resting under your middle back. Place your arms behind your head or crossed over your chest.
- The exercise: First suck in your ABS then exhale slowly while pulling the belly button towards the spine. (The motion will pull your ribcage toward your hips). Once the shoulder blades are off the ball hold for 2 seconds, inhale, and slowly lower yourself back to the start position. Repeat for 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Tips: Keep the ball stable during your upward movement. To help with this (especially if you're just beginning) position the exercise ball under the upper back to give you more support. Position the ball closer to the lower back once you gain more strength and confidence; this will intensify the exercise and the workout of the abdominal muscles.
Once you gain more experience you can take the sets up to 3 and the reps up to 15.
Important: Avoid ABS exercise balls that have a shiny or smooth surface. You want something with a surface that grips.
3) Vertical Leg Crunch
Another of the very effective stomach flattening exercises which can be performed at home is the vertical leg crunch. This ABS exercise focuses on the rectus abdominis and obliques.
- Start position: Lie down on the floor (or exercise
mat) face up and lift your legs to a vertical position.
- The exercise: Slowly lift your hips from the floor towards the ceiling and hold for 5 second. Lower your hips slowly back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. With more experience increase to 3 sets and 12 to 15 reps.
Tips: Remember to use your abdominal muscles and not your hip muscles.
- An alternative vertical leg crunch is to perform the exercise with your knees crossed (from the same start position).
- Now suck in the abs and lift your shoulder blades from the floor (instead of the hips) moving your chest towards your feet. This should cause your belly button to move towards the spine.
- Important: Maintain a vertical leg position throughout the exercise.
See the other Top 5 stomach flattening exercises at free ABS flattening exercises.
For more of the Top 5 stomach flattening exercises visit free exercises to flatten stomach.
Now navigate from free exercises to flatten stomach to aquatic exercise routines, Abdominal Exercise For Women: Best Free Workouts or leg exercises for women.
Or visit stomach flattening exercises home.