#1 – The Roll-Up
Works all four abdominal muscles at once and assists with segmental mobility and stability of the core. Lie on your back with arms overhead. Bring the arms forward until they are above your head (fingertips pointing to the ceiling), lift the head and together with the arms roll your spine up one vertebra at a time, keeping your navel pulled into your spine.
Roll up completely until you are bending forward reaching toward your toes. To return, stack your vertebra one at a time, until you are sitting erect and then slowly roll down starting from the sacrum (pelvic tilt backwards to touch sacrum down first) one vertebra at a time until you are lying flat on your back again with arms overhead. Repeat up 10 times.
#2 – Every Exercise
My favoring Ab exercise is EVERY EXERCISE YOU DO!!! What that means is that every exercise, whether bicep curls, squats, lunges, or back exercises, need to start with the concept of “stability before mobility.” . . . [W]ith every exercise you do, you have to stabilize your core to not move before moving your limbs. I have my clients contract their abs isometrically throughout every exercise they do.
This not only creates a strong core, but it helps you isolate the muscle you are trying to work. I tell my clients “Contracting your abs should be the first thing you do when you do any repetition and the last thing you let go of.” Your center of force is in front of your second sacral vertebrae (half way between your belly button and private parts and half way between the front and back of your body).
. . . [T]he energy that you create for movement always starts there. By contracting your abs throughout every exercise, they get strong in a way that supports your back more than crunches do.
– Vivian Eisenstadt MAPT CPT MASP Physical Therapist and Owner of Vivietherapy.com #vivietherapy @vivietherapy
#3 – Double Twist with a Butterfly Finish
My favorite ab exercise is a double twist with a butterfly finish! I start in plank position my palms, reach under my body (across my chest) as far as I can then twist out and reach for the ceiling — 15 times each side, then sit in the butterfly position and lay back, then slowly roll my spin up and reach as far forward for one sit up (15 of those). I repeat the twist, twist butterfly cycle three times.
This targets the abs directly but also really burns the obliques tat are so key to athletic performance in climbing, biking, etc.
– Patrick Sweeney is a full-time adventurer and fear guru. He is also a frequent keynote speaker. He is the first person to attempt Cycling the Seven Summits, and he finished 2nd in the Olympic Trials in Rowing.
#4 – A Quartet
Reggie recommends these exercises for a full ab workout without equipment:
- Swivels – Lay on back with legs in a tabletop position, hands to the side off the floor and head off the floor. Then move hips side to side
- Side Crunch – Lay on your back with both knees on one side and proceed to crunch
- Teapots – In standing position, put one foot pointed out the opposite hand is above the head. Bend from the waist down to the foot that’s pointed out and back
- Knee to Elbow Standing Crunches – Stand in a wide stance with one hand on the side of head then bring that down to opposite knee, as that knee comes up
– Reggie Chambers, Certified Celebrity and Personal Fitness Trainer
#5 – One Arm, One Leg Plank[The one arm, one leg plank] is awesome and one I recommend to many of my advanced clients. This is because it stabilizes your entire core and works many of the stabilizer muscles that get neglected in the typical workouts we see on the Western side of the world.
In addition to working the core, this exercise also fires up your quads, glutes, and lats! More specifically, this exercise lights up your rectus abdominis, internal oblique, transverse abdominis, and your diaphragm! On the other side of your core, this exercise lights up your iliocostalis and the longissimus! (3 to 4 sets, hold for 30 to 90 seconds per side).
#6 – Unilateral Carry
Benefits – Develops lumbar and pelvic stability. When walking with a heavy weight held in one had, the lower back and abdominal muscles have to stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis. The gluteus medius and minimus muscles on the stance leg also have to contribute a great deal of stability to the pelvis.
How – Hold . . . a 5-gallon jug. Walk around . . . your house for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side (2 to 3 sets of 30 to 60 seconds)
Now you can start working your abs no matter where you are. Make a plan, go Pro, and starting pulverizing your goals today!
Editor’s Note: These answers have been edited for clarity.