Having a strong core is the keystone for ease and athleticism in everyday life. Through improved abdominal stability, you will see dramatic progress in sports performance, posture, ease of breathing, and of course, a smaller waistline circumference. Although conventional ab exercises such as situps and crunches will light a fire in your belly, they don’t force your body to engage both upper and lower abdominal muscle regions simultaneously and are therefore ineffective for actual abdominal stabilization. To achieve a powerful core, it is imperative to train in a deliberate way that demands instability and challenges your abs to regain control. Personal trainer Jon Hinds hammers this point home with the ultimatum to eliminate all exercises that don’t cause active muscle stabilization. This article will highlight key abdominal exercise equipment options to help you ditch those useless ab machines and ensure that you are reaping the maximum benefits from your ab training routine every time.
The ab wheel is the ultimate example of effective abdominal exercise equipment. You can purchase these for at-home use, or create one by placing ten-pound plates on a barbell, one at each end. Beginning from a standing or kneeling position, slowly roll the wheel forward, aiming for full extension. Keeping your body stable, and your knees and arms taut, focus on crunching your abs to bring the wheel back to the starting position. The further you roll the wheel out, the more insane the tension is, and the more your obliques, serratus, and rectus and tranversus abdominus muscles will burn. This exercise targets your entire core, plus secondary muscles including chest, shoulders, back, and glutes.
Cable Crunches: Single Arm:
Cable machines are perfect to supplement your abdominal workouts with because they apply constant resistance throughout each rep. Connect a standard handle to a tower, and lock the pulley at the highest position. Standing with your side to the cable, pull down until the handle is level with your shoulder. Keeping your arm in a static position, engage obliques to bring the weight down in a side crunch. After repetition to failure, reposition and complete a set on the opposite side; the aim is constant tension for the duration of the set. Because the standing position provides instability and resistance, these cable crunches are a cut above average situps. The abdominal contraction hits the serratus and oblique muscles, which run along the side of the torso and play a vital role in supporting the spine.
Cable Crunches With Rope:
Again, cables prove to be powerful abdominal exercise equipment for isolated core targeting. These six-pack sculpting machines allow for added resistance, which kicks the crunching motion up a notch. Kneeling in front of the apparatus, hold the rope in both hands. Keep your hands and arms static, and crunch downward; envision bringing your rib cage to your legs. Pause and squeeze at the bottom, then slowly curl back up to the starting position; lifting weight is one thing, but holding it there takes the challenge to a different level. Squeezing the muscle at the end of the range of motion makes your body work harder. Your motions should be controlled, and your abdominals should be burning during both the raising and lowering. To hit the obliques, add twists to the side.
Pull-up Bar: Hanging Leg Raises:
(See our post on pull up bars here)
Although this ab exercise can be done by using either a roman chair or forearm straps, the most effective method is to hang from a pull-up bar. Because hanging engages more of your core for stabilization, this ab exercise works all the muscles of your midsection and hits your lats. Hanging leg raises are also a great movement for spinal health, as it alleviates pressure and elongates the spine.
Keeping your knees together, raise your legs until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Lower your legs and repeat. The key here is timing; your raising and lowering movements should be slow enough that you gain no momentum, and all movement is purely ab-generated. To kick this exercise up a notch, straighten your legs, forming a 90-degree angle with your torso; this will blast the lower region of your abdominals. When adding weight to this exercise, focus on belts that challenge your midsection, rather than adding weight to your legs.
Crunches on Bench:
When doing bench crunches, your abs are worked over a greater range of motion than when you do regular crunches on the floor. Forcing your abs to stay taut throughout the entire motion, and not allowing for relaxation of the upper back, these ab exercises are highly effective. Doing crunches using a bench for abdominal exercise equipment will zero in on your abdominals, and engage all frontal regions of your midsection.
Lying on a bench, place your feet firmly on the floor. Already, you will feel a stretch in your abs. With your hands placed lightly behind your head, curl upward and forward. To keep constant tension on the muscle, keep your chin up and never let your head touch the bench.
Benefits of a Stronger Core
With a stronger core, you will see massive improvements in athletic performance in sports that call for power to be produced by your limbs such as tennis, soccer, and baseball. This is because when you force your body to adapt to unstable training environments, the upper and lower abs fire simultaneously, ultimately accelerating reaction times. With a neutral spine and stable core, running and jumping movements become fluid and efficient.
Training abs in this way is a surefire six-pack guarantee. The concentration on movements and abdominal exercise equipment that force your body to operate in positions of instability will work your abs unlike anything else, and the ab exercises provided emphasize different abdominal regions. Avoiding common, go-to ab machines that do not challenge your body, is key to developing a strong core.
Strengthening the core also serves to correct poor posture by evenly distributing weight throughout the body, and reducing wear and tear on the spine. Posture has a huge impact on our overall wellbeing, so incorporating abdominal workouts that truly work to improve posture will have a major influence on how we feel.