Most Effective Ab Exercises

Ab exercises keep your abs strong and healthy. And though ab exercises do no "spot reduce" fat from your belly, strong abs are necessary in keeping the body healthy and protecting the spine. The American Council on Exercise conducted a research to determine the most effective ab exercises. Their study yielded the following results.

The Bicycle exercise

The bicycle exercise is the best exercise to target the "six pack" and the obliques.

How to do it properly:

Lie on your back and lace your fingers behind your head.

Bring your knees towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground without pulling you neck.

Straighten your left leg out while simultaneously turning your upper body to the right, bring your left elbow towards your right knee.

Repeat on your other side. Do 12-16 reps.

Captain’s Chair Leg Raise

The American Council on Exercise names the Captain’s Chair Leg Raise the second most effective ab exercise for you six pack and obliques. The captain’s chair is basically a rack with padded arms that let your legs hang free. Most gyms have this equipment. What’s great about the captain’s chair is that you can do a various exercises on it. To keep this exercise safe and effective, you should avoid swinging your legs or using momentum to bring your legs up. Also, keeping your knees bent lets you focus more on your abs and less on your hip flexors.

How to do it properly:

Stand on the captain’s chair and grip the handholds to steady your upper body.

Press your back against the padding then contract your abs to raise the legs and bring your knees towards your chest.

Do not arch your back or swing your legs up.

Slowly lower your legs back down. Do 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.

Exercise Ball Crunch

Exercisers swear by crunches to achieve flat stomachs. But the American Council on Exercises found that doing crunches on an exercise ball is even more effective in strengthening the abs.

How to do it properly:

Lie face-up with the ball under your mid/lower back.

Lace your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest.

Contract your abs to raise your torso off the ball.

Keep the ball steady as you curl up.

Lower back down, and stretch your abs. Do 12-616 reps.

Vertical leg crunch

The vertical leg crunch is the fourth most effective ab exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise.

How to do it properly:

On the floor, lie on your back and stretch your legs straight up with knees cross.

Contract your abs to lift your shoulder blades off the floor.

Keep your legs in a fixed position while imagining bringing your belly button towards your spine at the peak of the movement.

Lower your legs back down. Do 12-16 reps.

Torso track

The torso track is the 5th most effective ab exercise. Be careful when you do this move. You can hurt your back if you do not do it correctly.

How to do it properly:

Grasp the handles of the torso track. Pull your abs in as though bracing them. Do not hold your breath.

Exhale and then glide forward as far as comfortably can. If you collapse in the middle and you feel it in your back that means you went too far.

Contract your abs to pull your body back.

Amp you exercise by putting more tension chords to increase tension.

Source: about.com