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Abdominals - training exercises 

Sit-up, the classic ?

  • Of course ! The floor should not be too hard or too soft, it is better to use a gymnastics mat. Lying with the back on the mat and bend knees in 90 degrees angle to the torso. Tense abdominal muscles and lift slowly the torso, do not take a swing, and lower it. The tension should be kept during the whole exercise. About 12 to 15 repetitions are sufficient for 2 sets.


How do you exercise lateral abdominal muscles ?

  • Lying on one side and holding up with elbows. Legs are lying on top of each other while exercising. Now, the pelvis is lifted, so that the body forms a line. Abdominal muscles are always tensed and the body should be kept in lateral position. 
    The exercise should be kept about 12 to 15 seconds.
  • Furthermore, there is a classic type to exercise oblique abdominals: sit-ups and crunches. Here, abdominal muscles are tensed, hands are put on temples, and the right elbow is brought to the left knee while the torso is slightly turned inside. Then repeat the exericse with the left elbow and the right knee.


Are there any exercises for the lower part of the abdominal muscles ?

  • Lying on the back and stretching legs upwards in 90 degrees angle. Hands are lying beside the body on the floor (with palms showing downwards). Abdominal muscles are constantly tensed. Now, the pelvis is lifted a few centimetres for a short time and then lowered. 12 to 14 repetitions should be sufficient for 3 sets.


Which exercises are best for upper part of the abdominal muscles ?

  • Crunches / abdominal press: lying on the back, hands crossed in front of the chest, lift slightly the torso from the floor. This exercise strengthens mainly the rectus abdominis muscles.
  • Sit-ups: lying on the back, hands behind the head or on the temples, looking upwards and lift slowly the torso. This workout exercises the rectus abdominis muscles as well as hip flexor and the oblique abdominal muscles.


Are there any exercises for oblique abdominal muscles ?

  • The exercise starts in dorsal position. Legs are stretched upwards and bent in 90 degree angle. Please control that knees are touching. Arms are stretched on height of shoulders and put on the floor. Knees are moved to the right side of the floor while inhaling. Abdominal muscles are always tensed. Return slowly the legs while exhaling. Repeat this exercise with the other side. Hips have to touch the floor during the whole exercise. This exercise should be accomplished about 10 times per side.
  • Another possibility to exerise oblique abdominal muscles is the oblique crunch: starting position is lying on the back. Closed legs are bent to the right. Now, the straight torso is erected and lowered. Hands can touch the back of the head during the workout - but not supporting it.


Which exercises are most efficient for well-defined abdominals and abdominal muscles at all ?

  • Crunch: this is an excellent exercise for rectus abominis muscles 
  • Lateral push-ups: very good for oblique abdominal muscles
  • Vertical leg lifting in lying position: here, the rectus abdominis muscles are demanded as well as the external oblique abdominal muscle, secondarily.


How do classic crunches work ?

  • Lying with the back on the floor and legs are bent (approximately 90 degree). Legs have to stand in 90 degree angle to the hip. Touch the temples with the fingertips. Now, lift the torso with power of trunc musculature (do not pull). So far, until shoulder blades do no longer touch the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower slowly and controlled the torso. It is correct to feel a "burning".


What are the best exercises without using machines ?

  • "Jack-knife-crunch" on the floor: this exercise is very good for the rectus abdominis muscles.
    Lying with the back on a mat and stretching hands upwards. Now, lift the torso and legs by 45 degree at the same time. The back should always be kept straight.
  • Side ups with trunc rotation: very good for oblique abdominal muscles. Hold up laterally on a forearm and mind that the body forms a line. Feet always stand together. The upper arm stretched straight upwards and then lowered downwards, the torso being slightly turned. Shoulders should be in horizontal position.
  • Dynamic forearm-up: this exercise is ideal for the whole trunc. Starting position is the forearm-up. Feet stand hip-width apart, elbows are below the shoulders. The body forms a straight line. Now, lift the hips as high as possible and then lower them slowely to the starting position.
  • Lifting the trunc from the floor: very good exercise for oblique abdominal muscles. Lying on one side, stretching the legs. Press the free hand in the hip. The other arm is lying under the shoulder on the floor. Now, lift laterally the hip upwards. The body should form a straight line. Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower the body.
  • Crunches, diagonally stretched: good for oblique abdominal muscles.
    Starting position: back position. Legs are lifted, a 90 degree angle should be formed on height of the knees. Arms are crossed over the chest, legs are slowly stretched forwards. At the same time, make a crunch turned to the side with the torso, while stretching the arms. Back to starting position and switching to the other side.
  • Oblique jack-knife: very good for oblique abdominal muscles.
    Starting position: lying position on one side, hold up with elbows. Legs are slightly bent and lifted in a minimum from the floor. The hand, which is not held up, rests behind the ear. Now, push the legs upwards from the floor, hold this position for a few seconds and then lower slowly the legs - without lying them completely down.  Then switch to the other side.
  • Leg lifting: this exercise is good for the rectus abdominis muscles. Lying on the back, legs are stretched straight upwards. Hands are under the coccyx. Now, lift the hip, so that it loosens slightly from the floor. Hold it for a moment and then return to the starting position.
  • Two-point-bridge: this exercise is good for the whole trunc. Starting position is the push-up position. Arms are completely stretched. Now, lift the right arm and the left leg and hold them for a few seconds. Then put them down and repeat this exercise with the other side. 

What are the best exercises using machines / weights ?

  • Crunches with weights: starting position and exercise are like those of normal crunches. In addition, a weight plate is put on the chest. This makes the exercise more difficult. An important fact: do not lay down head and shoulder blades.
  • Negative-crunch: sitting upright and feet are fixed by dumbbells. Arms are stretched forwards. Now, bend the torso backwards (approximately 45 degree) from the upright sitting position and make the back slightly round. Abdominal muscles are tensed during the whole exercise.
  • Hip stretcher: this exercise is very good for the whole trunc. Starting position: lying on the back (feet are lying on the training bench). There should be a 90 degree angle between hips and knees. Please mind during the exercise that head and torso remain on the floor. Spread arms laterally and lift the bottom and stretch the hips in a controlled way.
  • Barbell-rolls: very good exercise for rectus abdominis muscles. Grasp the barbell in kneeling position with both arms stretched shoulder-width apart. Thighs and torso form a 90 degree angle. Now, roll the barbell as far as possible forwards and then pull it back.  
  • Lifting the leg on a negative bench: an exercise for rectus abdominis muscles. Lying backwards on the bench and grasp the padding with the hands. Legs are stretched. Now, lift the legs until they are in a vertical position. The pelvis is slightly loosened from the bench and mind that the back is always kept straight.
  • Side bending on a gymnastics ball: very good for oblique abdominal muscles. Lying laterally on a ball and holding up with feet on the floor. Put hands on the temples during the whole exercise. Lift the torso upwards, hold it for a short time, and then lower it.
  • Trunc lifting with rotation on a gymnastics ball: here, oblique muscles are exercised as well as the lower back. Lying with the abdomen on the ball, arms are crossed. Hold up the feet on a wall - if possible. Now, lift slowly the torso to one side until the torso and legs form a line.
  • Turned crunch on a gymnastics ball: very good workout for oblique abdominal muscles. Lying with the back on a ball, head, shoulders and upper back rest on the ball. Knees are slightly bent and feet stand flat on the floor. The arms are crossed in front of the chest. Turn the torso to one side until only the shoulder is touching the ball. Then return slowly to the starting position. Look to the ceiling during the whole exercise (not to the floor).


 How many repetitions of exercises are optimal ?

  • It should be about 20 to 30 repetitions for correctly used technique. More than this is not possible in fact.


What is the hardest exercise for abdominal muscles ?

  • Of course: upside-down-crunches by means of gravity boots. Here, gravity boots (steel collars) are straped around the foot ankles. That's how you can hang headfirst on a chin-up bar. Hands are put on temples and come upwards with the strength of the abdominal muscles and without taking a swing.


Abdominal muscle exercises - are they better using a gymnastics ball ?

  • Exercise accomplishments with a gymnastics ball are much more efficient than on a weight bench. The ball serves as base / rack for legs. Here, abdominal, leg and back musculature are demanded at the same time, because the whole body gets stabilized automatically. The coordination ability is also trained.


The best abdominal exercises of the world ?

  • Lifting the leg in support position (very efficient but challenging): hold up hands on a dip-stand and pull knees alternately towards the chest.
  • Classic sit-ups: set up legs, clamp feet in a barbell, i.e., and slightly lift the torso.
  • Heavy crunch: here, legs are not set up but hold upwards.
  • Side-ups: lying on the side, put elbows beneath the shoulder, lift the pelvis, trunc and legs form a line.
  • Beetle-crunch: lift legs and torso, stretch arms backwards. Stretch alternately right and left leg and the respective arm opposite.
  • Floor press: the quadruped position is the starting position. Put hands underneath the shoulder, knees underneath the pelvis. Now, lift the knees a few centimeters from the floor.


Which are the best exercises to strengthen abdominals and back muscles at the same time ?

  • Exercise for the oblique abdominal muscles (this exercise can also be helpful against back pain). Starting position: lying on the back with drawn up knees. Lower back is pushed to the floor. Now, lift the knees until the lower leg is horizontal position. Press the opposite arm against the knee and mind that the lower back remains on the floor. Hold the tension for a few seconds. Put the leg down and repeat the exercise with the other side.
  • Exercise for head and shoulders (this exercise is ideal for strengthening abdominal muscles and for back pain in general). Starting position: lying on the floor with drawn up knees. Lower back is pushed to the floor. Now, lift the head until the chin touches the chest. Stretch arms forwards to the lower legs. The lower back remains on the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Lateral lifting (this rather dynamic motion is good for stamina, suppleness, and flexibility). Starting position: lying on the back with bent knees, lower legs are in horizontal position, arms are stretched in 90 degree angle. Hands are lying on the side of the head (do not grip the head). Now, touch the left knee with the right elbow and then change the sides. The whole trunc should be rotated while performing this motion.


Get to know more in these categories:

- General questions about abdominals

- Anatomy of abdominals

- Nutrition tips regarding the topic abdominals

- Training tips for beautiful abdominals

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