Hey folks, from the desk of the inimitable Kevin Rail…..
Let’s get right down to business crew! You have good exercises and you have bad exercises. And you also have good exercises that are DONE badly. Take push-ups, for example. Arguably, they are performed with the most heinous of form more than any other drill out there.
Butts are up in the air, elbows are flared out to the sides, necks are bent down in the most awkward of positions, and my personal favorite, backs are arched like a ski jump in St. Moritz!
Ugh… The point I’m making here is, think twice about how you do exercises and more importantly, WHAT exercises you choose to do. And I didn’t call to attention this meeting today to discuss push-ups. I want to address something that is closer yet to my heart—ab exercises.
There are equal part atrocities with this area of the body as any other one. And sadly, people seem to still stay fixated on the everyday boring drills that they think will promote a strong and sexy midsection. Yeah, suffice it to say, this is possible. But I’m here to tell you there is life beyond the fourth wall. And I am going to give you five exercises that I want you to start doing ASAP.
These are a lot more fun and beneficial than the seated crunch machine, and a few of them will really stimulate your brain too. You can’t beat that with a bamboo spoon. Shall we get down to it? Great! Here we go…
1. Bowsaw Plank Knee Pull-ins
This is probably a brand new one to you. In order to pull this exercise off, you need one of those fancy gliding discs you see at the gym and a floor surface conducive to it sliding.
Simply come into a plank position on your forearms with your feet together and placed on a disc. Now, rock your body forward by grinding your forearms into the ground. As you approach a position where you can go no further, slide your knees in by your chest.
Hold for a second, slowly slide your legs back and push into the floor to move your upper body. Continue to go back as far as possible and repeat.
If you are at home and do not have a disc, but have a slippery floor surface, use a towel instead.
2. Star Sit-ups
These are fantastic cross-body, all-in-one ab exercises that target the rectus abdominis and obliques in one fell swoop. To do these, lie on your back with your arms straight out at your sides, your palms down and legs spaced in an V pattern.
Roll onto your left forearm as you raise your torso up and lift your left leg. Cross the midline of your body with your right hand and reach for your toes. If you can touch them, great. If not, just go as far as you can.
Slowly lower yourself back down, repeat on the other side and continue to alternate back and forth in a slow and controlled motion.
3. Hanging Pikes
Any drill that’s done from a hanging position on a pull-up bar spells money for your abs! They are also really good for shoulder stability and flexibility to boot.
To perform hanging pikes, grab a pull-up bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Allow your legs to hang straight down, pull your shoulder blades inward and engage the upper part of your lats. This is called “packing your shoulders” and will prevent you from swaying back and forth.
Keeping your legs tight together, raise them up as high as you can and try to eclipse the bar with your toes. Hold for a second, slowly lower your legs all the way back down and repeat.
If this is too arduous for you, bend your knees and raise them up. Then over time, as you increase the strength in your abs, progress to the point where you can keep your legs straight.
4. Hollow Rocks
These are “ab” solute killers! In application, they are easy. But not so much in execution. Here’s how they are done.
Lie on your back with your arms stretched behind your head. Make sure your upper arms are in line with your ears or slightly behind them, and do NOT let them move from that spot throughout.
You can either clasp your hands together, turn your palms up or face them. Now raise your legs off the ground and smoothly lower them down while keeping your abs as tight as possible. Your upper body should naturally lift off the ground at this point.
Slowly lower your torso while keeping this tension in your abs and raise your legs back up. Continue to alternate back and forth in a controlled motion, as if your body was a rocker on a rocking chair.
If you suddenly become a hoss and want more of a challenge, hold a medicine ball in your hands. And trust me, you won’t need a heavy one if you go down that road.
I bet you weren’t expecting to see sprints listed on a best ab exercises you’re not doing article, hah. Well, they deserve a spot on this list and are one of my favorite ab drills of ALL time. Maybe I should rephrase that. Although I love them for their effect on the abs, I also hate them because they’re so dang hard!
But they still make regular appearances in my program and they should be added to yours as well. The best way to do them is simply start with a light warm-up jog, then run as hard as you can for about 30 seconds.
Come back to a slow pace to catch your breath and hammer it again. Repeat for a series of reps and finish with a light cool-down jog.
If you want more of a challenge, do your sprints on a hill or high incline on a treadmill.
Not only do they incinerate fat, but they also boost your metabolism AND cause you to squeeze your abs like they were being ripped off your body. You won’t regret throwing these in a few times a week.
Bringing it Home
In the big picture, there are literally thousands of ab exercises you can do to get a well-defined midsection and build strength. But these are some that I feel you should be doing.
Always focus on good form and low volume over sloppy, high reps, and always act like you are in possession of that which you want in the world. Life is really no more complicated than that.
Until next time, this is K/Rail. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up at KevinR@BioTropiclabs.com!