Abdominal Exercises to Have Six Pack Abs

Targeted abdominal training combined with a diet focused on healthy, unprocessed foods can help you achieve six pack abs. Be sure to include exercises that target all the muscles of the abdomen to create a balanced, strong appearance and to enhance functionality of your core. Remember to include cardiovascular conditioning in addition to your ab work to burn fat and make those abs pop even more.

The Bicycle

The bicycle abdominal exercise was rated as number one out of 13 popular abdominal exercises by a 2001 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and performed at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University. Researchers, using electromyography equipment, determined that this move activated more muscles of the abdomen than any other exercise. To make the most out of the exercise, lie on a mat with your back pressed into the floor. Lightly cradle your head with your hands and bring your knees to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Extend and bend your legs in a slow and controlled manner as if you were pedaling a bicycle. Lift your right shoulder to your left knee as it comes in toward your chest and then switch (left shoulder to right knee) for one repetition. Work your way up to two sets of 15 repetitions. Rest one minute between sets.

Captain’s Chair

The captain’s chair is a piece of equipment available in many fitness centers. It appears to be a tall, seatless chair with arm rests and back support. To use the chair, place your forearms on the armrests and stabilize with a strong grip. Draw your navel into your spine and press your spine into the padded back support, let your legs extend down to the floor. With control, bend your knees and pull them into your chest. Return to start for one repetition. Work your way up to between 12 and 20 repetitions.

Stability Ball Crunch

In a study published in the May 2007 issue of the “Journal of Strength Conditioning Research,” researchers from the Department of Kinesiology at Occidental College found that performing a crunch with the lower back supported by a stability ball increases muscle activity by about 50 percent as compared with a crunch performed on a mat. Lie on a stability ball (sized between 55 and 65 cm) so that your lower back presses into it and your feet stand firmly on the floor. Cross your hands in front of your chest and activate your abdominals as you raise your head and shoulders into a crunch. Lower to start and repeat up to 15 times. Work up to three sets, with a 60-second break between them.

About this Author

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.