Your abdominal muscles make up the core of your body. The core of your body helps you in many athletic activities, and a toned stomach doesn’t look too bad either. Of course, there are several different exercises out there that are extolled for doing wonders for your abs, but which ones are the best? Here are the best abdominal exercises for you: Doing crunches has been proven to work your upper abdominal muscles when done properly. In theory, crunches are quite simple: lie on the floor, bend your knees so that your feet lay flat, cross your arms over your chest, and push your upper body towards your legs. You do not have to go very far to feel this stretch; you only need to push up enough to feel a strain on your abdomen. The best criteria for this is to make sure that your shoulders are lifted off the floor; it may not seem like much of a stretch, but a set of sixty properly-done crunches will work your upper abdominal muscles a substantial amount. It is imperative that you keep your arms crossed over your chest and not behind your head, as this can injure your neck.
Sit-ups are useful for working your entire core. Many people use the terms “sit-up” and “crunch” almost interchangeably, but they are two different exercises. For a sit-up, start in the same position as you would for a crunch, but decrease the bend in your knees. When you move your upper body towards your legs, push your legs up towards your head. A good way to ensure this is to imagine trying to touch your legs with your head. If you find a set of sixty sit-ups to be relatively easy, try holding a medicine ball over your chest to increase the lifted weight. To further increase the difficulty, try twisting your upper body to the left and right after pushing it up as high as it can go. This keeps your core working for a longer amount of time, putting more strain on it.
Running is another effective core exercise that comes as a surprise to many. The key to working your abs while running is to use a proper running form. To achieve this, stand up as straight as possible, keep you hips angled vertically, and keep your arms moving up and down while you run. Your abdominal muscles will be supporting your body for the whole three, four, or five miles that you run, and you will definitely feel the strain on them.
Hanging leg raises require a pull-up bar, so you’ll probably need to get to a gym to do them. But it is definitely worth the trip. The hanging leg raise intensely strengthens your lower core as well as other muscles in your body, and it is an exercise that is difficult even for experienced body builders. To start, hang on a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder width apart, and keep a slight bend in your knees. All you have to do now is move your pelvis forward, or lift your legs as high as they can go. This exercise is designed to focus on working your lower abdominal muscles. Make sure that you don’t swing when you lift your legs up and lower them, as this will result in an injury of the lower back.
As you strengthen your core, you will feel stronger, athletic activity will become easier for you, and your overall fitness will improve dramatically. By using these exercises, you can be on your way to achieving core in a matter of weeks!