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Fitness Professional John Brownlee

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abs exercises

Abdominal & Oblique Exercises

Below are exercises you can do to strengthen and tone your abs. If done correctly and combined with proper nutrition, the routines will help tighten and shape the muscles in your midsection to give you a tighter stomach, six pack, and smaller gut. Performing exercise routines correctly will help you effectively and safely workout your body.

NOTE: Please talk to your doctor and consult with a certified personal trainer or fitness professional before starting any exercise program. Perform the exercises below at your own risk.

Sit Ups
Twisting Sit Ups
Roman Chair Sit Ups
Iron Inch
Crunches
Russian Twists
Pulley Crunches
One Arm Pulley Crunches
Leg Raises
Flat Bench Leg Raises
Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging Frog Kicks
Reverse Crunches
Killer Sit Ups
Killer Crunches

basic crunches

Crunches


This is the most commonly used abdominal exercise in the gym today. Crunches are super isolation exercises for the entire rectus abdominis as well as the intercostals.
  1. 1. Lie flat on your back and place your calves on a flat bench seat. Your hamstrings should be perpendicular to the floor.

  2. Place your hands behind your head with fingers interlaced together.

  3. Perform the following movements simultaneously:
    a. Pull your hips from the floor using your lower abdominal muscles.
    b. Raise your shoulders and back from the floor using your upper abdominal muscles
    c. Force your shoulders in moving them toward your hips
    d. Exhale hard

  4. Hold the contracted position for a slow count of 1-3 seconds.

  5. Keep repeating this movement until fatiqued.

Flat Bench Leg Raises


This exercise is very closely related to the simply leg raise. The flat bench leg raise places stress on the entire rectus abdominis however most stress is placed on the lower half. Secondary stress is also placed on the intercoastals.
  1. Lie flat on your back on a normal exercise bench with your hips at the lower end.

  2. Hold the upper end of the bench with your hands.

  3. Keeping your legs together bend your knees about 15-20 degrees keeping your feet off the floor.

  4. Use your abdominal muscles to slowly raise your feet upward in an arc until they are above your hips.

  5. Slowly turn them to the starting position above the floor.

  6. Repeat these movements until you have completed the required number of repetitions.

 


Hanging Frog Kicks


This is a less stressful version of a hanging leg raise. It isolates the rectus abdominis, especially the lower half as well as the intercostal muscles.
  1. Hang on a chin bar using an overhand grip with arms straight at shoulder width.

  2. Bend your legs about 15 degrees and keep them bent and relaxed during the entire exercise.

  3. Pull your knees up to your chest while bending your knees. Be careful to move only your legs.

  4. Hold this contracted position for a slow count of 1-2 seconds.

  5. Return slowly to the starting position.

  6. Repeat repetitions until fatigued.

  7. You may add alternate twists to involve the intercostal muscles more fully.

Great Walls


The Great Wall is a simple, intense isometric exercise. The Great Wall works the entire abdominal area with focus on the upper abdominal region.
  1. Stand straight up.

  2. Concentrate as hard as you can on your abs.

  3. Tense your abs as hard as possible. Put all your energy
    into tensing your abs.

  4. Maintain the incredible tension for a count of 6 and relax.

  5. Immediately tense the abs again.

  6. Continue this cycle until failure.

Hanging Leg Raises


This is a relatively new abdominal exercise that is rapidly gaining popularity in gyms Hanging leg raises place intense stress on the entire rectus abdominals especially the lower quadrant. The intercoastals also are tested during this exercise.
  1. Hang on a chin bar using an overhand grip with arms straight at shoulder width.

  2. Bend your legs about 15 degrees and keep them bent and
    relaxed during the entire exercise.

  3. Use your abdominal muscles to raise your feet upward in an
    arc until they are a bit higher than a point level with your hips.

  4. Hold this contracted position for a slow count of 1-2 seconds

  5. Return slowly to starting position

  6. Repeat repetitions until fatigued.

  7. To increase intensity you may also raise your feet higher during each repetition or perform this exercise with ankle weights.

Iron Inch


This is a very simple, highly effective exercise that is almost never used. The Iron Inch isolates the lower abdominal region.
  1. Sit on the floor, legs together, stretched out in front of you.

  2. Keep your back erect and clasp your hands behind your head.

  3. Using the power of your abs and hips try to inch across the floor for a distance of 10 feet. Do not bend your knees or get your back or arms into the movement.

  4. Using your lower abs move your right hip and then your left hip and inch. Continue until you reached 10 feet or cannot move further.

  5. Rest 90 seconds and repeat this movement backwards to your starting spot.

  6. After you have mastered this exercise place a weight in your lap for greater resistance.

Killer Crunch


The Kill Crunch is an intense version of the sit up. Do not attempt this exercise if you are not already training abs. This exercise should only be done by those with experience in working their abs. The Kill Crunch works the entire abdominal area, however, is highly concentrated on the upper rectus abdominus
  1. Assume a normal crunch position. Do not lock your hands behind your head.

  2. Begin a normal crunch movement.

  3. When you reach your most intense contracted position you
    must put all your attention into the abdominal area tensing it as hard as possible for a count of 3.

  4. Keeping your abs as tense as possible slowly return to a prone position. It should take you at least 3 seconds to reach the floor.

  5. When you reach the floor, keep maximum tension on the abs and repeat the motion.

  6. Continue repetitions to failure.

  7. After failure, rest 90 seconds and do a set of conventional crunches to failure.

Killer Sit Ups


The Kill Sit Up is an intense version of the sit up. Do not attempt this exercise if you are not already training abs. This exercise should only be done by those with experience in working their abs. The Kill Up works the entire abdominal area, however, is highly concentrated on the upper rectus abdominus.
  1. Lay on your back with your feet braced against or under a stationary object. Do not lock your hands behind your head.

  2. Begin a normal sit up movement.

  3. When you reach your most intense contracted position you must put all your attention into the abdominal area tensing it as hard as possible for a count of 3.

  4. Keeping your abs as tense as possible slowly return to a prone position. It should take you at least 6 seconds to reach the floor.

  5. When you reach the floor, keep maximum tension on the abs and repeat the motion.

  6. Continue repetitions to failure.

  7. After failure, rest 90 seconds and do a set of conventional sit up to failure.

Leg Raises


Leg raises are a common abdominal exercise nearly as old as the sit-up. Leg raises place primary stress on the lower half of the rectus abdominis although the muscle fibers of the upper rectus abdominia are recruited as well. Secondary stress is also placed on the intercostal muscles.
  1. Lie on your back on an inclined ab board with your head toward the raised end.

  2. Grasp the end of upper bench with your hands to stabilize your body.

  3. Bend your leg 15-20 degrees or until you feel your back relax.

  4. Use your abdominal muscles to raise your feet in an arc to a position directly above your head.

  5. Drop your feet in a return arc until they clear the bench.

  6. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions are complete.

  7. Add resistance by raising the incline angle of the bench or by holding a light plate or dumbbell between your feet.

One Arm Pulley Crunches


This is a rare variation of the standard pulley crunch. This exercise places stress on the serratus and intercostals.
  1. Attached a rope handle to an overhead cable machine.

  2. Hold one handle or rope end and kneel down about 18 inches from the cable machine.

  3. Perform the following movement simultaneously:

    a. Bend forward at the waist

    b. Exhale hard

    c. Touch the floor about 4 inches ahead of your forehead with your hands.

  4. Hold this contraction for a slow count of 1-3 seconds and return to starting position.

  5. Switch arms and repeat exercise.

Pulley Crunches


This is a very useful variation on the simply floor crunch. The pulley crunch stresses the entire rectus abdominis muscle. There is also powerful stress placed on the lower lats and the serratus muscles at the side of your ribcage..
  1. Attached a rope handle to an overhead cable machine.

  2. Hold both handles or rope ends and kneel down about 18 inches from the cable machine.

  3. Perform the following movement simultaneously:
    a. Bend forward at the waist
    b. Exhale hard
    c. Touch the floor about 4 inches ahead of your forehead with your hands.

  4. Hold this contraction for a slow count of 1-3 seconds and return to starting position.

  5. Repeat for desired number of contractions.


Reverse Crunches


Reverse Crunches are a great exercise for working the lower abs.
  1. Lie flat on your back with legs extended. Raise your legs into a L position with your abs. You can flex your knees a bit.

  2. Lower them to almost floor level and raise again.

  3. Keep going until failure.


Roman Chair Sit-Up


This is a newer version of the sit-up. It has been used extensively in gyms for about 20 years. This exercise places stress on the entire rectus abdominis although more stress is placed on the upper half.
  1. Sit on the Roman Chair and hook your toes beneath the restraint bar near the floor.

  2. Cross your arms over your chest. You will keep your arms positioned this way throughout the entire exercise.

  3. Bend your body backward moving your hips until your back is about 6 inches above a point parallel with the floor.

  4. Move forward until you feel your abdominal muscles relax.

  5. Crunch your shoulders forward and down putting intense stress on the abdominals.

  6. Relax and respect the movement downward until your back is 6 inches above a parallel plane to the floor.

  7. Continue until you have completed the desired repetitions.

  8. Resistance may be added by propping the front end of Roman Chair on a large block of wood.

 


Russian Twists


The Russian Twist is an intense version of the Lying or Floor Twist. Do not attempt this exercise if you are not already training abs. This exercise should only be done by those with experience in working their abs. The Russian Twist works the entire abdominal area including the internal and external obliques.
  1. Lie face up on a Glut/Ham Chair with your feet locked under the support bar. If you are at home you may use the floor (lock your feet under a stationary object and raise your shoulders a couple inches off the floor to aid movement).

  2. Place your palms together, straight up in the air. Your arms should be stretched completely out at a point just below your chin. You may hold a weight in your hands for greater resistence. Typically people use 5-25 pound plates.

  3. Rotate your shoulders to the right side. Your hips should stay rigid and your palms should move a complete 90 degrees.

  4. Repeat this movement to the opposite side.

  5. Continue until failure.


Sit-Ups


This is one of the oldest and most basic of all the abdominal exercises. It works the entire rectus abdominis muscle wall although normally more stress is concentrated on the upper part verses the lower sections.
  1. Lie on your back on the floor and hook your toes under a heavy piece of furniture. Even better, use an ab board and hook your toes under the ankle constraints.

  2. Bend your knee comfortably and keep them bent throughout the entire set. This helps to relieve concentrated back strain.

  3. Place your hands behind your head and lock your fingers together.
    Curl your head, shoulders, upper back and lower back slowly in succession off the floor until your torso is perpendicular to the floor.

  4. Curl your head, shoulders, upper back and lower back slowly in succession off the floor until your torso is perpendicular to the floor.

  5. Hold the upright position for a second and reverse the movement slowly until reaching the starting point.

  6. Resistance may be added by varying the degree of incline if you are using an ab bench or by holding a weighed barbell plate behind your head. Advanced athletes may want to do both!

Twisting Sit-Ups


This is a variation of the Sit-Up. Twisting alternatively from side to side will additionally involve the intercoastal muscles as well as the obliques
  1. Lie on your back on the floor and hook your toes under a heavy piece of furniture. Even better, use an ab board and hook your toes under the ankle constraints.

  2. Bend your knee comfortably and keep them bent throughout the entire set. This helps to relieve concentrated back strain.

  3. Place your hands behind your head and lock your fingers together.

  4. Curl your head, shoulders, upper back and lower back slowly in succession off the floor until your torso is
    perpendicular to the floor.

  5. Hold the upright position for a second and reverse the movement slowly until reaching the starting point.

  6. Resistance may be added by varying the degree of incline if you are using an ab bench or by holding a weighed barbell plate behind your head. Advanced athletes may want to do both!

  7. Do a second repetition however during this rep twist to the right as you raise yourself.

  8. Do a third repetition twisting to the left.

  9. continue reps straight, right, left until the end of the set.

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