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Hula Hooping for Better Abs

by Jane 

(California)

My best ab exercise would be hula hooping. It works all the muscles in your abdominal area. I do it for about 30 minutes a day, and in a week, I have seen improvement in my waistline and in my hips. It brings out the natural, beautiful curves of your female body. 

The biggest advantage to hula hooping is that it is FUN! I look forward to doing it. How many exercises can you say that about? I can do it in front of the TV while watching my favorite programs. Get off the couch and try it.

The second best ab exercise for me would be sit-ups. It works the front ab area, but it isn't quite as effective as hula hooping...nor as fun.

Looking For A Fat Burning Workout 

by: Anonymous 

I am finding it hard to find a workout that fits my needs but i am going to give Hula Hooping a try. I've heard it is a great fat burner.

Very Creative! 

by: Exercise Bill (Site Owner) 

Excellent, Jane. The hula hoop workout is very creative...that's thinking outside the box. 

Shows an ab workout can be fun and effective.

Especially love the bringing out of the natural, beautiful curves of the female body. :-)

Weighted Ab Exercises

by Steven

If you are looking to actually increase the size of your ab muscles, some of the best ab exercises would be weighted ab work using dumbbells, weight plates, or medicine balls. 

Since muscle tissue will only grow significantly when an overloading weight is placed upon it, you must treat your ab muscles like you would any other muscle in the body. You wouldn’t get as developed doing push-up after push-up as you would with heavy bench pressing, so the same principle applies here. You should avoid overloading your ab muscles on consecutive days to prevent overuse and to get the best results.

You can start with basic ab crunches while holding a dumbbell or 10 pound weight plate right under your chin.

Other terrific options for weighted ab work include decline weighted crunches, weight abdominal twists (moving from side to side), and hanging leg raises with weight strapped onto your ankles.

You can also use a Swiss ball very effectively, along with a medicine ball. You can lie back over the ball with a medicine ball in your hands and simulate various throws. You can come straight over the top, or do a diagonal chop. If you have a partner to catch the ball you can actually throw it. This kind of plyometric work will really build your abs.

Crunches With Variations

by Abby 

(Dallas, TX)

I love to do different kinds of crunches. There's the standard crunch. I like to hold some hand weights above my head (parallel to the floor) and do crunches because it increases resistance. More resistance = better results.

I love to do crunches with my legs held straight up in the air. 

I also like to do The Plank. Keeping your stomach muscles tight, you suspend yourself on extended arms. With your legs stretched out behind you, prop one foot on top of the other. You can also alternately lift up each foot 5 seconds at a time. This has great results, but at first it burns!

Planking vs. Crunching 

by: Bill (Site Owner) 

Abby: You'll be much better off in the long run if you do more planking than crunching. The science of ab training has really evolved over the last few years. People have always been told they had to do hundreds and hundreds of crunches if they wanted to work their abs and flatten their stomach (they are still told that in many gyms and by many trainers).

Crunches are much less effective than planks (front and side) and should be a small part of your ab training. For some people they should be excluded entirely, depending on the situation.

Three Reasons:

1) Greater muscle activation. Crunches primarily work your rectus abdominis (the main anterior muscle of your torso). Planking works your entire core, front and back. Not only are you strengthening your ab muscles, you're doing the same for your back.

2) Function. Research has shown that in athletics and most everyday activities, your abs are called on to work much more as a stabilizer than as a mover.

Anytime you are exerting force with your upper or lower body, your core muscles have to contract strongly to stabilize your torso and prevent movement. A weak core reduces your power. Planking trains your core to be strong stabilizers because planks train your isometric strength, something crunches don't do. 

3) Back Health. Every time you do a crunch, you are performing spinal flexion. This repeated bending forward that occurs with crunching can wear out your spinal discs over time. Think of your discs as car tires. Every crunch you do puts a little more mileage on your tires. Over time, your tires wear out and you get a blow out (disc herniation). It might take years for this to happen, but reduce your crunching can help save your discs. If you already have disc issues, you shouldn't be doing any crunches at all.

In summary, Planks work your ab and core more fully, train your abs in a functional way, and preserve your spinal discs by avoiding the repeated bending that occurs with crunches.

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