Best Ab Exercises For Superior Muscle Growth
Packing on serious muscle mass for lean abdominal gains is no easy feat. But when you have the right ab exercises on your side, your six-pack dreams can turn into a reality.
Adding these ab movements to your workout regimen can take your core from non-existent or lack-luster to a strong, reliable physical attribute.
Hanging Leg Raise
For the hanging leg raise, all you need is access to a pull-up bar or surface to hang from. Be prepared to at least hold a static hang for roughly 30 seconds or the time it takes you to complete your reps.
- Using a pullup bar, hang with your arms extended and at least shoulder width apart.
- Concentrating on your core doing the work, bring up your straightened legs up together. If you cannot perform the hanging leg raise with fully extended legs, choose to raise up your knees for a less intense version.
Try not to hunch, curl back, or swing your legs up for momentum. The focus of this exercise is to utilize your lower to upper abdominals to lift your legs up for you.
Also known as the farmer’s carry or loaded carry, this exercise is suitable to encourage not only muscle growth but daily activities as well. It increases postural strength, which promotes a healthy spine and solid core.
- With two dumbbells or kettlebells by your side and ready to pick up with each hand, squat down and lift deadlift-style.
- Contract your abdominals and walk with slightly bent knees and secure hips.
The farmer’s walk can be either used as a warm-up, main lift, or warm-down. A good starting point is to select a weight that you cannot hold for any longer than one minute.
Of course, most of these exercises are isolated ab exercises on this list, but compound exercises are great for achieving ab development too. The deadlift is known to be a full body lift – where the abs are greatly needed for stabilization.
- Stand with your feet midway underneath the bar and hip-width apart.
- Stretch down to grab the bar shoulder-width apart and without bending your knees just yet.
- Bend your knees by almost sitting back into a squat. This will pull the bar back to you a bit.
- Keep your back straight as possible, then pull and engage your legs at the same time.
- Stand up erect while keeping your knees and hips locked. Lower back down slowly and safely – just the way you came up with a straight back.
Primarily, the deadlift is a back exercise, but the strong abdominals are imperative for this exercise to progress over time. Focus on contracting your core extra while deadlifting to improve balance and stability throughout the exercise.
As a bodyweight classic, escape from the weights through this tried-and-true ab packing exercise. Bicycles can be performed anytime, anywhere – just what you may be looking for while in the comfort of your own home or on vacation.
- Lie down on your back. Depending on your comfort level, use a mat or carpet if hardwood or the ground is too hard for you back.
- Lift your head up just enough to place gently put your hands behind your head. Take note, do not pull your head and neck with your hands – only place your hands.
- Bring your right knee toward your left elbow and chest. Repeat for the opposite side.
- Remember to leave the opposite leg straight while tucking in your bent leg.
Notice how your shoulder comes up with your elbow rotation – this is perfect and how you should be performing the movement. Once you have a handle on this exercise, it should feel fluid and natural. You will quickly find your own rhythm and pace that activates the abdominal muscles.
Incline Bench Reverse Crunch
Being of a versatile nature, the reverse crunch can be easily achieved as either a weighted or non-weighted ab exercise. Specializing in the lower abdomen, this movement lets your hip flexors take a much-needed breather.
- Start lying down on an incline bench with your head on the higher end.
- Grab the edge of the bench above your head with both of your hands.
- Bring both your knees toward the chest with your knees slightly bent and up high in the air.
If you choose to do this weighted, you can hold a dumbbell with your feet, but this is not recommended for safety reasons. Alternatively, you can place a plate on your abdomen, so when you pull your legs up with your abs, the weight provides greater resistance to the entire movement.
Although this may seem like a regular plank at first, the Russian Kettlebell Challenge plank is far from it. Of course, this more intense version of the classical plank does not incorporate any actual kettlebells, but it can be learned quite quickly.
- Start in a traditional plank form – back straight, elbows directly below your shoulders, and chin to chest.
- Tighten your fists and bring them together, so your arms create a triangle with your elbows.
- Align your legs as close as possible to each other, so they are touching.
- Contract both your quadriceps, abs, lower back, and glutes.
- Try to bring your elbows and toes closer to each other – at this moment you will feel how this RKC plank is a shorter, rigorous version of the traditional plank.
During this isometric exercise, aim for three sets of 10 seconds each. As your body progressively becomes stronger, feel free to add time accordingly. Consider adopting the RKC plank to your ab workout for a practical alternative to the long, dragged-out conventional plank.
Implementing even just one or two of these rock-solid ab exercises to your workouts can be a real game-changer. Or, to keep your workout sessions short and intense, consider adding them as supersets into your current lineup.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to ab exercises – you can even train them more than any other muscle group in the body. Many variations of these simple, yet effective, movements are available pack on the ab muscle mass you are looking for.