There is plenty of research that demonstrates how valuable the crunch is in sports performance and abdominal hypertrophy, but it is getting pretty old. Also, if you would like your abdominal routine to stay challenging and fresh, the best thing to do is introduce some change into it every once in a while. The five exercises below can help you build a well-carved and strong set of abs, without having to do any crunches and no sit ups required either.
1. Mountain Climbers
Everybody loves to hate the cardio activity called mountain climbers. When performed correctly, the mountain climber requires your lower abs to be dynamically engaged and your spine to be maintained in flat-as-a-board, picture-perfect posture. The only proof needed is to see what starts to occur when someone trying to perform this moves starts having to fight off fatigue: The hips start to go up as the core muscles start losing their ability to keep the spine properly aligned. Try performing three to five 30 seconds of exercising with 30 seconds of rest in between your sets to start to fry your abs using this demanding exercise.
When the plank is performed – either at full extension like at the top of the push-up or done from the elbows – it is known to target your deep transverse abdominis. However, as those muscles start to wear out, your superficial rectus abdominis needs to pitch in more to help maintain the position. In order to benefit from both, test yourself by performing longer bouts and more sets. Every time you hit the mat, try to add 5 to 10 seconds onto your maximum time.
3. Front Squat
The Physical Therapy in Sport journal published a study that found that female competitive weightlifters had significantly stronger external and internal oblique muscles compared to the recreationally active control group. In particular, the front squat requires that you maintain an upright and rigid body position. In order to correctly hold this position, your body is forced to make countless corrections, which often go unnoticed. Heavy front squats have a tendency to make lifters sore in their obliques and the area behind their abs.
4. Suitcase Carry
Remember that the abs have the job of keeping your spine from collapsing. That is why anti-flexion movements such as the plank are so important, in addition to anti-rotation exercises such as the suitcase carry. This is very simple: just pick something up that is heavy with one of your hands and then walk around with it. There is great functional value in this. However, your whole midsection is also put on a blast. The transverse abdominis and opposite-side oblique will be getting the most work from it. Start out using a 40-pound kettlebell or dumbbell, and take deliberate, long steps. Try to go a certain distance – across a gym floor for example – and make sure that you keep your chest up and eyes forward. With each session, increase the distance that you walk or the weight that you carry.
People get happy when their abs are sore. The pain you feel gives you the indication that you have laid the groundwork for an impressive reveal. Performing the rollout is one way to practically guarantee that you achieve that delayed onset deep muscle soreness. Performed with a weighted barbell or ab wheel, you start by holding the wheel directly under your shoulders. Keep your arms extended and then push the barbell or wheel ahead of you to roll out and extend your hips until they are fully extended. Roll the barbell or wheel past your head in order to extend the stretch on your abs. Then pause and reverse direction. The move will hit your transverse abdominis. However, the next day you will feel it mainly in your rectus abdomonis. Try to do 3 to 3 sets of 15 reps each with a maximum rest of one minute between sets.
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