Ab Training Made Simple
Building a strong, defined core doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a simple outline of how to do it!
🔹Best overall movement: The ab wheel/rollout shows tremendous activity of the upper and lower rectus abdominis as well as obliques (Youdas, et al.) making it a great movement for your whole core. Also, a great overall core isomeric exercise would be the long lever plank which is a plank with your elbow up by your head instead of by your shoulder area.
🔸Lower abs: Hanging legs raises elicit the highest activity of all exercises for the lower abdominals. In fact, they show about 💯% of MVIC which makes them great for this area (Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies). 🔹Upper abs: A crunch with your arms extended is fantastic for targeting the upper abs specifically. If you’re worried about crunches being bad for your back, research done by @bretcontreras1 and Brad Schoenfeld found “there is no convincing evidence that performing crunches as part of a total body resistance training routine will have any negative effects on posture” (Contreras & Schoenfeld). In fact, they could be beneficial for improving blood flow to the discs.
🔸Obliques: The side bend builds the obliques better than any other exercise based on EMG activity (Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies). Also, a good isometric exercise for the obliques would be a side plank which shows the second best EMG activity behind the side bend.
🔹Programming: General staying in the 8-20 rep range and 3-5 sets, 2-5 days per week will work best for the abs. The myth of 100 rep crunches and very high volume training for the abs doesn’t work as well as hitting them like any other muscle. You wouldn’t do 80 rep sets of squats for strength, would you? 🤔