What Are the Most Effective Ab Exercises?

What Are the Most Effective Ab Exercises?

It's the ultimate question for fitness fanatics: What's the best ab exercise? In 2001, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) sponsored research to find the answer once and for all.

In their ranking of 13 of the most common ab exercises, bicycle crunches took the top spot based on activation of the rectus abdominis (those six-pack muscles). An outlier — the captain's chair — took second place.

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Move 1: Bicycle Crunches

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1. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows out. 2. Raise your head, neck and shoulders off the floor by engaging your abs. 3. Twist to your left side, bending your right knee in toward your chest as you bring your left elbow to meet it. 4. Return to center and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

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Move 2: Hanging Knee Raises on the Captain's Chair

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1. Climb up into the chair with your back pressed against the backrest, arms and elbows on the armrests (to support your body weight), hands gripping the handles and legs extended straight down. 2. From there, pull your knees up toward your chest, engaging your abdominal muscles in the process. 3. To finish the move, extend your legs back to the starting position and repeat.

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Swiss-Ball Pike Rollout

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1. Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and shoulder-width apart on the floor, shins resting on top of a Swiss ball. 2. Tighten your core muscles and pull your legs in toward your arms, lifting your hips in the air.

3. Pause at the top of the rep and hold for one to two seconds. 4. Lower yourself back down, sliding your legs back over the ball until your arms are under your shoulders. 5. Remember to keep your abs braced and your back straight throughout the movement.

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Stability Ball Crunch

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1. Lie face-up with your lower back supported on top of the stability ball, feet flat on the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees. 2. Raise your head and shoulders and "crunch" your rib cage toward your pelvis. 3. Hold, then return to the start.

is brutal," she says. "This is a great go-to movement to add to your at home routine."

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Stability Ball Plank

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1. Place your elbows on the stability ball, hands clasped with feet hip-distance apart. 2. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toes.

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Stability Ball Push-Up

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1. Come to a high plank with your hands on the ball beneath your shoulders. 2. Exhale, bend your elbows and lower your chest until it touches the ball, then push back up into a plank.

Carving an enviable six-pack isn't an easy feat — which is too bad, since it seems nearly everyone wants a defined set of abs. But too many people view a sculpted midsection as a kind of status symbol,

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The Science Behind the Most Effective Ab Workouts

By Sahil Saifi