We’ve all heard about the crunches, and the leg raises, and the other kind of crunches, as well as the crunches done with a medicine ball in hand. And you’ve crunched your abs day in and day out for the last 33, but still don’t have the midsection you were after. Well it may be because you are leaving out some other key exercises important in your six-pack quest. Your body adapts after a period of time of repetitive exercise, and the exercises you were doing may not be yielding you results anymore.
Put away the crunches for a while and try these 5 abs exercises you've never seen before:
Similar to the regular bicycle abs exercise you are probably familiar with, but much slower and more drawn out. Doing your abs exercises slower and making your muscles stay in the contracted position for longer makes the exercise harder and gives you better gains. To complete this exercise, bend your knees and put your hands behind your head, as you would for regular bicycle, and pull your opposite elbow and knee together. When you do so, hold it for a count of 3, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating to fatigue.
This is another movement that requires you to hold your muscles contracted for long period of time. In this one though, you are also adding in movement, which makes your muscles work that much harder. To complete sit on the floor and stretch your legs out straight in front of you. Lift them up off the floor and lean back, with a flat back until you feel your abs engage. You should have your legs out straight, with your back straight, and should feel your abs supporting you from falling over. Reach your arms out parallel to your legs and simultaneously move them up and down, counting as you do so, until you reach 100. Rest and repeat as many times as you can!
In the same position as hundreds (above), this time, instead of moving your arms, you will be moving your legs. Start with your legs extended out straight and then bend your knees and pull your legs in. Repeat this until your abs can no longer support you in an upright position.
Although doing planks is a great way to strengthen your abs, if you do them regularly, they probably are no longer a challenge. For this variation, you will need a slippery floor (like hardwood or tile), and two cloths, or two pieces of paper towel. Place the cloths underneath the toes on each of your feet, and come into a forearm plank. Maintaining a strong core and keeping your arms and midsection completely still, use your abs to move your legs out to each side, sliding on the cloths. Your abs will be working, not only from holding you in a plank position, but also from helping you move your legs outwards.
Your abs are composed of muscles in the center (where most people refer to their “6 pack”), as well as muscles to the side, called the obliques. Working all the muscles of the abdomen is important to see success in improve your midsection. To work the obliques, resume the position from the hundreds exercise above: seated on the floor, legs extended off the floor, out straight in front of you, and back straight, inclined backwards until abs are activated. Maintaining this position, extend your arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor and rotate your core from side to side, aiming with your arms. You should feel it in your midsection, as well as down each side of your body.