Image by: Michael Taggart
By Jake Bradshaw
Every guy thinks they know what it takes to get an ultimate six pack, but sadly, most of them are going about it the wrong way. Many of the workouts you see guys do in the gym are doing more harm than good. A good number of them are a waste of time, and if you want a six pack, you need to focus on routines that benefit, not take away.
#1) The Ab Rocker (& All It’s Relatives)
You might recognize the ab rocker as that device sold in infomercials requiring you to lay on the ground while doing a sit up with the assistance of a brace-like contraption, helping you to pull up for a “smooth” crunch. Gyms are also packed full of the ab rocker benches that require you to basically do the same thing – but on a bench.
In a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the ab rocker was revealed to be the least effective in strengthening the abdominals. In fact, it was 80% less effective than the traditional ab crunch. If you truly want to get a six pack, nix the contraptions.
#2) Straight Legged Situps
Remember those days in high schools when someone would hold your feet with your knees locked and legs fixed along the floor, while you performed countless number of situps? Well, that’s one thing in high school you should never repeat. Not only will the jerking motion required to lift from the floor result in injury, but this is a sure way to build pressure on your lower spine.
As an alternative, do bicycle crunches. According to research, it’s the best ab exercise you can do to activate all the muscles in your abdomen. Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground, allow your hands to gently hold your head and lift your knees to a 45-degree angle, then go through a bicycle pedaling motion while touching your elbows to the opposite knee as you twist.
#3) Bent Over Twist
Many guys in the gym are doing this infamous routine and seeing minimal results. Basically it’s when you hold a light bar behind your neck with your arms outstretched, bending forward from the waist so your upper body is parallel with the ground, then twist left to right. I hate to break it to you, but the main muscle being worked here are spinal erectors – not your abs.
Instead, opt for the captain’s chair exercise. It’s a vertical knee raise on a plank-like contraption that allows you to hold yourself up while your legs dangle beneath you, slowly lifting your knees towards your chest, then back down. According to the study, the captain’s chair ranked second best in all ab exercises out there today.
#4) Exercise Tubing Pull
This might be a little confusing for some of you reading this. The tubing pull has so much potential at being a great ab exercise. A long band attached to the wall behind you as you perform a traditional ab crunch, pulling the band (or tubes) as extra friction. While this has shown to have good effects on your upper abs, it sadly misses out on other important areas.
Alternatively, you should throw away the tubes and try doing the vertical leg crunch. Lie on your back and extend the legs up towards the ceiling with the knees slightly bent. The contract your abs to raise you up until your shoulders leaves the floor. Keep the chin up, neck relaxed, and legs in a fixed position. Lift the torso towards your knees, then lower back down.
#5) Roman Chair Situps
This is a movement where you’re essentially sitting on the ground with your legs straight in front of you and your back aligned, ultimately forming a 90-degree angle. Slowly, you lower your upper body to the ground, while your legs stay straight, then bring yourself back up again. Sadly, most of the work is performed by the hip flexors, not your abdominals.
Here’s an idea. Why not change the surface? Get on an exercise ball and watch your six pack slowly start to appear. Lay your feet flat on the floor, and lie back on the ball until your things and torso are parallel with the floor. Then, contract your abdominals to no more than 45-degrees, and pull back down.