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4 Proven Gym Ab Workouts To Get You Toned and Stronger

4 Gym Ab Workouts to Get You Toned

Do you feel that you cannot achieve strong abdominals?  So many people waste effort and time doing the wrong ab workouts.  I have done some research on a study which determines the best gym ab workouts so I thought I would devise a beginner’s programme to help you get toned and stronger.

Based on the study’s top four exercises I recommend that you do them three times a week to begin with. Perform the exercises on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. If you have the time, go for every second day to reach your goals quicker (it is only an extra two sessions in the four weeks).

These ab workouts are good for those who have never done any sort of abdominal exercise or those who only do the occasional abdominal exercise.

The whole point of the beginner’s routine is to get you used to the techniques, so you get the most out of every single repetition you do. You will also get comfortable with the exercises over the first four weeks and feel more confident. The exercises build up, with the easiest first.

1. Exercise Ball Crunch

The Exercise (Swiss) Ball Crunch recorded a 39% higher activity level in the rectus abdominus than the traditional crunch and had 47% higher activity in the obliques than the crunch, respectively. So a fairly easy exercise to start with.

Start Position:

a. Lie on the ball with your lower back and shoulders on the ball.

b. Place your hands just behind your head.

c. Make sure your elbows are pointing out on both sides and are in align with your body.

d. As well as your torso your thighs should be parallel to the floor.

Action:

a. Gradually lift your head and shoulders up by 45 degrees.

b. Crunch your rib cage in. Pause for two seconds.

c. Slowly lower yourself back down to the start position.

d. Exhale as you contract upwards and inhale as you return to the starting position.

e. Repeat.

Super-Tips:

a. Keep your feet flat on the floor.

b. Keep both your knees bent at a ninety degrees angle.

c. Keep your legs parallel.

d. Do not strain your neck by pushing too far forward.

These tips will ensure you stay stable on the ball.

2. Reverse Crunch

The Reverse Crunch recorded only 9% higher activity in the rectus abdominus than the crunch but an amazing 140% activity in the obliques than the crunch, so a worthwhile exercise.

Start Position:

a. Lie face up on the floor with your arms on your sides (palms down).

b. Keep your feet together.

c. Bend your knees at a 90 degree angle.

Action:

a. Press your lower back down on to the floor and raise your knees towards you, until they reach your hips.

b. Pause for two seconds.

c. Slowly lower your legs until your heals almost touch the floor.

d. Repeat.

Super-Tips:

a. Always keep your knees at a 90 degree angle throughout the repetition.

b. Always keep your feet together throughout the exercise.

c. Always keep your legs parallel throughout the exercise.

Remember, to exhale as you contract (legs up) and inhale (legs down) as you lower your legs.

3. Captains Chair Leg Raise

The Captains Leg Chair recorded 112% more activity in the rectus abdominus than the cruch and a really high level of activity of 210% more activity in the obliques than the crunch.

Start Position:

a. Hold the handles and place your back against the back pad.

b. Place your feet on the foot ledge.

c. Hold your body up with your legs dangling.

Action:

a. Slowly lift your knees up until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.

b. Pause for two seconds.

c. Bring your legs down to a standing position with your legs still dangling.

d. Repeat.

Super-Tips:

a. Remember to keep your abs in.

b. Look forward at all times.

c. Keep your forearms flat on the pads.

d. Keep your legs and feet together at all times.

e. Exhale when bringing your legs up and inhale when bringing your legs down.

4. Bicycle Manoeuvre

The Bicycle Manoeuvre recorded a whopping 148% and 190% more activity than the crunch in the rectus abdominus and obliques.

Start Position:

a. Lie flat on the floor (face up) and put your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out and in align with your shoulders.

b. Bend your knees at a 45 degree angle.

Action:

a. Twist the right side of your body so your right elbow touches your left knee.

b. Then twist the upper side of your body so your left elbow touches your right knee.

c. Slightly pull your knees in, when connecting with your elbows.

d. Take two seconds on the way up, hold for two seconds and take two seconds to lower down.

This is a difficult exercise for a beginner. Stay relaxed with continued breathing.

Super-Tips:

a. If you have not done this before, focus on technique and do not worry about speed.

b. Keep your ribs in and abdominal muscles contracted for added stability.

c. Do use an exercise mat.

d. Seek advice if you have or have a history of any kind of back pain before doing this exercise.

Use a slow tempo, it really does make a difference.  Take two second on the way up and two seconds down.

Aim for ten reps and do two sets.

Rest for thirty seconds between each set. Do not worry if you only manage a few reps, you will gradually get better and stronger.

If you are doing a low number of reps (one to four), then try three sets. If you are struggling, do not worry, take your time and increase your rest periods from thirty seconds to sixty seconds. “You will get stronger”!

Make sure you log your results, record: date, time of day (as you will naturally tire towards the end of the day), number of reps and sets competed.

In weeks five to eight, I will move you on to the intermediate level.

Recommended Reading:

¤ Best Abdominal Exercises Proven to Get You Stronger Faster I discovered this study when researching for the most effective abdominal exercises. This American Council of Exercise study has been a great discovery and I based the beginners training on this.

About the author

Adam Drinkwater

Adam Drinkwater MPharm (Hons) is a YMCA Certified Professional Gym Instructor, Pharmacist, Scottish Football Association Qualified soccer coach, specialising in goalkeeping. He has a keen interest in evidence based information and is a long-time player in the fitness industry. He holds many nutritionist certificates and has a Masters in Pharmacy.