Abdominal stimulation exercises

Here are what I consider to be the best exercises for the abdominals. When training abs I normally use:

a) Post-fatigue supersets with the first exercise being a loaded (with added resistance) movement and the second one being an unloaded (no added weight) drill working the same movement pattern.

b) Circuits of 4-5 exercises working all the functions of the trunk: 1) rotation 2) lateral flexion 3) trunk flexion 4) hip flexion. Below is an example of such a circuit. This is the functional circuit I used with my hockey players in 2002.

Exercise 134. Kneeling cable crunch

Key point(s): As with the other crunching movements the objective is to perform a "rolling of the spine" not a mere trunk flexion. Performing the movement while kneeling reduced the activation of the hip flexors and puts more stress on the abdominal muscles.

Exercise 135. Serratus crunch

Exercise 135. Serratus crunch

Key point(s): Keep the elbows locked throughout the whole movement. When you curl/crunch up, also push the dumbbells straight towards the ceiling to activate the serratus.

Key point(s): Focus again on rolling the spine forward, not bending the trunk. The movement should always be performed under control, do not jerk yourself up.

Exercise 137. Low-pulley cable crunch

Exercise 137. Low-pulley cable crunch

Key point(s): Bring the arms above the head in the starting position; as you crunch, push the bar towards the ceiling focusing on getting a peak contraction of the abdominal muscles.

Exercise 138. Hanging leg raise

Exercise 138. Hanging leg raise

Key point(s): Initiate the movement by flexing the glutes in the starting position. When the glutes are activated, you can perform the leg raise portion of the movement.

Exercise 139. Hanging leg raise on Hack squat machine

Exercise 139. Hanging leg raise on Hack squat machine

Key point(s): This variation is slightly easier than the pure hanging raise. And the back support generally facilitate the proper execution of the movement. At the top position try to "tuck in" your knees by lifting your glutes off of the back support.

Exercise 140. Double crunch exchange

Exercise 140. Double crunch exchange

Key point(s): Always keep a certain tension in your abdominals by avoiding brining either the legs or shoulders all the way back down during the movement.

Exercise 140. Knee tuck-in

Key point(s): Always keep the tension on the abdominals by not bringing the legs all the way down and by voluntarily contracting the abs as hard as you can throughout the duration of the exercise.

Exercise 141. Twisting cable crunch

Exercise 141. Twisting cable crunch

Key point(s): Can also be performed kneeling and facing the pulley station.

Exercise 142. High pulley woodchop

Exercise 142. High pulley woodchop

Key point(s): Keep the glutes tensed to stabilize the hips. Rotate with the trunk alone, not the hips. Can also be done standing, but there will be an increased tendency to rotate the hips.

Exercise 143. Low pulley woodchop

Key point(s): Same execution as the previous exercise except that you use the low pulley station instead of the high one.

Exercise 144. Full Russian Twist on Swiss ball

Exercise 144. Full Russian Twist on Swiss ball

Key point(s): Rotate the trunk from one side to the other while keeping the trunk in a crunch position. Do no rotate the hips, only the trunk/torso. Keep the arms fully extended during the whole movement. Go from the fully rotated right position to the fully rotated left position and return.

Exercise 145. Half Russian Twist on Swiss ball

Exercise 145. Half Russian Twist on Swiss ball

Key point(s): Rotate the trunk from one side to the other while keeping the trunk in a crunch position. Do no rotate the hips, only the trunk/torso. Keep the arms fully extended during the whole movement. Perform all reps from one side and then do the other side.

Key point(s): This is an advanced exercise that shouldn't be done by individuals who have lower back problems. If you decide to utilise this movement, always perform it slowly and under control. It combines a lateral flexion with a trunk rotation. Keep the hips fixed at all times, focusing on trunk rotation and flexion only.

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