5 Advanced Abdominal Exercises for More Challenging Core Workouts
It’s true that in order to see your abs you have to do more than just perform high-rep sets of sit-ups. It has also been said that abs are made in the kitchen requiring strict dieting practices to achieve low levels of body fat.
As an effective eating plan is paramount in revealing that ever sought-after washboard midsection look, it can also be said that you will actually need some nicely developed muscle underneath to uncover. What good is a six-pack when they are weak and frail?
On the other side of the coin is the strength and functionality of the abs (or core, as some refer to it). A strong core is the key to increasing stability and strength in other areas of the body. Expect significant increases in stability and strength on the squat, bench press and even rows and pull-ups once the abs are developed properly.
Your abs provide a strong foundation for the entire body to draw upon and rely on. Below are 5 challenging ab moves to up your intensity and your game on your quest to build stronger more useful abs.
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5 Advanced Ab Training Exercises
#1 – Windshield wiper
The windshield wiper rotation is one that requires complete ab and lower body control. Since we are focusing on more function with our abs it’s wise to choose exercises that have the body move in unison with other areas rather that severely isolate small sections.
Too much isolation won’t allow for strengthening the body as a whole. With that said, many of the moves included here will have you hoisting the weight of your legs and stabilizing your entire body instead of small crunch moves designed to focus only on a small part of the abdominal wall.
The how: Lie on your back on the floor with your arms out to your sides and perpendicular to your torso for stability. With your feet together and your legs straight raise your legs up to vertical. You should have tension on your lower abs.
Slowly twist your pelvis to the side keeping your legs straight moving toward the floor. Just before your feet touch the floor raise your legs back to the top position before twisting to your next side. That is one rep. Depending on experience and strength levels shoot for 3 sets of 10 total reps.
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#2 – Hanging toe touch
Any type of hanging leg raise is an effective and challenging ab exercise. The ability to raise the weight of your legs up to a certain level takes strength. Straight leg and bend leg raises are commonplace in most gyms as they require you to stabilize your body to avoid swinging giving your abs one serious workout.
Hanging toe touches take any hanging exercise to the next level. Here you will have to pay even closer attention to avoid swinging which will only make your abs work overtime.
The how: Grasp an overhead bar such as a chinning bar that is high enough where your feet are not touching the ground. Contract your abs so your pelvis is slightly pulled forward. This is your starting position.
To start, raise your legs with a slight but stable bend in the knees up in a wide arc toward your hands (or the bar). Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position. The key here is not to swing or sway your body in any way.
Yes, your hips will naturally move back as you lift your legs (that is a natural motion since you are not using any type of back pad to stabilize your hips). The slow motion required will ensure that the stress in placed on your midsection and not merely a product of cheating each rep up. Go for 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 quality reps.
#3 – Dragon flag
You may have seen Rocky perform these in a training montage or two in his films. The dragon flag is one tough feat requiring full-body strength. Although it can be challenging you will reap big rewards. Bruce Lee was a fan of these and I think you should be too.
Not only requiring serious abdominal strength but also strength from rotational midsection muscle as well such as the obliques and even the innercostals. Truly a full-body abdominal punisher, the dragon flag will definitely test your mettle.
The how: Lie on a flat bench (or for more of a challenge, use an inclined sit-up board). Grasp the sides of the bench on either side of your head while you raise your legs off the bench. Continue raising your hips and then your lower back off the bench while trying to maintain a somewhat straight line with your body.
At the top position your feet should be close to pointing toward the ceiling and only your upper back and head making contact with the bench. Slowly reverse the motion and lower yourself back to the bench. Try 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.
#4 – Decline plate raise and hold
So far we’ve covered a lot of lower ab-heavy leg raises that have you moving and stabilizing with your pelvis. Somewhat of a bottom-up approach. Now it’s time to manipulate the rib cage and shift the focus on the upper area (although all areas of the abs are contracted during all exercises).
The decline plate raise and hold will put a nice little burn on your abs while challenging your ability to contract and hold your abs in a specific position.
The how: Position yourself on a declined ab bench (or you can perform this on a flat surface). Be sure your feet are stabilized under a foot pad or by a training partner. Grasp a moderate weight plate and hold it above your torso with your arms straight.
Keeping the weight in the above position, start by crunching your upper body up and eventually performing a sit-up while keeping the weight plate overhead and hold for a count. Lower in the same manner under control before the next rep. Go for 3 sets of 10 reps.
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#5 – TRX/medicine ball pike
Do you want the ultimate challenge when it comes to ab training? The TRX is one versatile piece of equipment enabling you to perform many exercises with a single suspension trainer. This bodes well for ab development.
Providing somewhat of an unbalanced state the TRX, when combined with a medicine ball, can prove difficult even for the veteran lifter. This will require balance, coordination and real strength.
The how: Affix your feet in a suspension trainer facing the floor. Extend your legs out straight and place your hands on a medicine ball. You should be in a quasi-push-up position.
Begin the pike exercise by contracting your midsection and moving your hips straight up toward the ceiling. Your legs should remain straight bending only at the hips. Form a 90 degree angle before returning to the bottom flat position.
It is a difficult exercise to perfect so go slow and practice safety. Shoot for 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps to start.