What are the best ab exercises according to scientific research? Can you figure it out? Have you ever wondered that yourself?
That is what Max Posternak, the founder of Gravity Transformation, boasting a massive following of over 5.5 million YouTube subscribers, decided to investigate. While Max typically delves into weight loss advice, this time, he decided to take a closer look at the best ab exercises proven by science.
Check it out.
6 Best Ab Exercises (Proven by Science)
Max Posternak has come across a plethora of available ab exercises. Wouldn’t it be great to discern the best from the worst? Concentrating on the most effective exercises could expedite the development of those sought-after six-pack abs.
Fortunately, the American Council on Exercise, also known as ACE, conducted a comprehensive study evaluating various ab movements to identify the most fruitful ones.
The study, conducted several years ago, delves into the nuances of 13 different exercises. The researchers primarily assessed muscle stimulation and activity, ranking the exercises from best to worst.
Starting with the sixth-best exercise: the long arm crunch. This exercise focuses on the rectus abdominis, commonly known as the six-pack. Max recommends incorporating weights for added intensity, citing a 2009 study supporting the efficacy of using weights for abdominal stimulation.
Moving on, the fifth-best exercise is the ab rollout, also known as the torso track. While typically not done with weights, gradual progression by rolling out further can increase stress on the abs over time. Max’s favourite ab exercise, the vertical leg crunch or reverse crunch, ranks fourth. He suggests progressing to weighted variations for added intensity.
The third-best exercise, according to the study, is crunches on an exercise ball. Max emphasizes the benefits of stability balls, asserting that they create more effective ab exercises by engaging stabilizer muscles and providing increased range of motion. The second most effective exercise, the captain’s chair, involves hanging leg raises or knee tucks. Max recommends mastering the movement before adding weight.
To Max’s surprise, the top-ranking exercise in the study is the bicycle sit-up, also known as the bicycle manoeuvre. Max shares a more advanced variation called the Navy SEAL sit-up, which involves lifting higher during the sit-up motion. He underscores the effectiveness of this exercise for targeting not only the lower abs but the entire rectus abdominis.
While Max appreciates the study’s insights, he wishes more ab exercises, including the weighted decline sit-up, were included in the analysis. Max believes that the weighted decline sit-up, due to its extensive range of motion, is a highly effective exercise for developing maximal rectus abdominis strength and muscle breakdown.
To fully understand the study and how to perform each of the 6 best ab exercises proven by science, watch Posternak’s video below.
When it comes to building any muscle, including the abs, treating them like any other muscle group is key to achieving growth. The concept of progressive overload plays a crucial role in this process.
Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise over time. For the abs to grow and develop, they need to face increasing challenges beyond what they are accustomed to. Here’s why treating the abs like any other muscle and applying progressive overload is essential:
- Muscle Adaptation: Like any other muscle, the abs adapt to the stress placed upon them. If you keep performing the same exercises with the same intensity, the muscles will become accustomed to the load, leading to a plateau in growth. Progressive overload disrupts this adaptation by introducing new challenges.
- Tissue Microtrauma: Progressive overload induces microtrauma in muscle fibers, a natural part of the muscle-building process. This microtrauma triggers the body’s repair and recovery mechanisms, leading to muscle growth. Abs are no exception, and challenging them progressively ensures continuous improvement.
- Strength Development: The abs, just like other muscles, respond positively to increased resistance. Whether you’re performing crunches, leg raises, or other ab exercises, gradually adding resistance, such as weights, challenges the muscles and promotes strength development. This not only enhances the aesthetic aspect of your abs but also contributes to overall core strength.
- Variety and Adaptation: The abs consist of different muscle groups, and treating them like any other muscle involves targeting these groups with various exercises. Progressive overload encourages incorporating a variety of movements and adjusting the intensity, ensuring all parts of the abdominal muscles are effectively stimulated.
- Avoiding Plateaus: Without progressive overload, there’s a risk of hitting plateaus where gains in muscle size and strength become stagnant. By consistently increasing the difficulty of your ab workouts, you prevent plateaus and keep the muscles engaged in a growth-promoting state.
- Consistency and Patience: Just as with other muscles, building strong and defined abs requires consistency and patience. Regularly challenging the muscles with incremental increases in difficulty over time is a sustainable approach that yields long-term results.
That means that, if you want to improve how strong your abs are, you need to increase the tension on them while working out. The easiest way to do that is either to add weight to your ab exercises, or to do more sets or reps to increase the volume of training weekly. The principle of progressive overload is a fundamental strategy for achieving growth, strength, and definition in the abdominal muscles.
- Ab wheel: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash