Best Ab Exercises: (Your definitive Guide To Beach Body Abs)

Before I show you what the best ab exercises are, It’s important to know exactly how they work and why most people don’t train them right.

In terms of their function, the abdominals may be the most important muscle group in the body.  They not only help make the body look aesthetically beautiful but they assist and are involved in every single movement you do in the gym and in life.

Like calves, abs are neglected by most gym-goers, and mainly get thrown in at the end of the workout.  Please from this moment going forward, treat your abs as one of the most important muscle groups in the body.  Not only will you dramatically improve the look of your physique but you will massively increase your strength throughout all other movements due to having a much stronger core and base to work from.

Another reason why your abs are so important, as it will help with injury prevention.  You hear it all the time, people moaning about having lower back pain.  Well in so many cases this isn’t caused by having a weak lower back, its caused from having weak abdominals and core.

It’s vitally important you train your abs using the same BFG Muscle principles and intensity as you do with all other muscle groups.  It’s also a muscle you can train up to 3 times a week.

A close up of a male athletes 6 pack abs

Biggest Misunderstanding Involving Ab Training

You could do all the right ab exercises and train them with great intensity.  However, you will still not have the desired midsection you are after whilst you still have a layer of fat sat on top of the muscles.

It makes no difference how many sit-ups, or crunches you do, these exercises will not burn the layer of fat on top of your abdominals.  There is no such thing as spot reducing.  What I mean by this is training a particular muscle group will not burn fat around that area.  The body just doesn’t work like that.

The only way to burn fat on any part of the body is through following a good nutrition plan and burning more calories then you consume each day.  This is called eating in a calorie deficit.

However, I am not saying “don’t work the muscles, just because you have a layer of fat over them”.  These muscles must still be worked but you will not see the physical results from all your efforts until the layer of fat is gone.

Sciency Stuff – Understanding The Role Of The Abdominals

The amount of rubbish I here coming out of different Personal Trainers mouth regarding the abdominals astonishes me.  And even some of the most highly qualified trainers still get this wrong

The abdominal muscles connect the top portion of your pubic bone to the bottom part of your ribcage.

When you contract your abdominals you round the lower back by shortening the distance between your pelvis and sternum, usually around 30 to 35 degrees.

Please note the abdominals are not responsible for bending you at the hip.

If you know how developing a well-defined set of abdominals is pretty easy.  The problem is most people don’t and choose extremely inefficient exercises.

With BFG Muscle you will be working your abs with 100% efficiency given you by far the best results.

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Sit-Ups – A Horrible Exercise For Abdominal Development

From what we have learnt so far, you will already probably see the major problem with doing sit-ups.  By doing a sit-up you go way further than the 30 degrees caused by abdominal involvement.  Once you go past this stay you start bringing in a set of muscles called Psoas.

The psoas attaches to the front of your upper leg (femur) and travels up and around to attach to your lower back.

Like in a sit-up the biomechanical action of the psoas muscles is to draw the torso toward the thighs.  Another job for these muscles is to stabilise the lower back when it is arched.  So the psoas muscles will be doing most of the work whenever you do an exercise where your lower back is arched.  There will be minimal involvement from your abdominals.

Ab Crunches

Probably the most well known and most used exercise for abdominal development, and rightly so.  diagram of a man doing ab crunches

Primary muscles involved

Upper Abdominals

Secondary muscles involved

Obliques and lower abdominals

Most efficient technique 

The first thing to do is lie on your back and bring your knees making sure your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.  You can either place your lower leg on top of a gym ball or bench or simply keep them elevated with no support at all.  Either place your fingertips on the side of your head or chin.

This next part is really important.  Imagine you are about to have something dropped onto your stomach.  Your natural reaction is to tense (contract) your stomach.  This is exactly what you need to do first.  Once you have done this, take your shoulders up towards your knees.

Squeeze for a second then slowly start to lower back to the starting position.  Repeat again for the following repetitions.

Now we don’t want to get to a stage where you can perform 20 to 30 reps comfortably.  So in order to progress this exercise and make it challenging again simply hold a weight a few inches in front of your face.

Lying Leg Raises

A brilliant exercise for developing your lower abs.  There are a few variations of this exercise but the most efficient way is to perform it lying down on the floor.diagram of a man doing lying leg raises

Primary muscles involved

Lower abdominals

Secondary muscles involved

Obliques, upper abdominals and hip flexors

Most efficient technique

Start by lying down on your back, legs straight out in front and placing your hands under your buttocks (palm down).  Now raise your elbows off the floor.

We now need to try and limit any help and action from the psoas muscle.  We do this by raising your shoulders and head off the floor as when doing an ab crunch.  This will now keep your lower back on the floor.

Put a slight bend in your knees and start raising your feet off the floor to a rough height of around 15 inches.  From here lower your feet back down leaving a gap of around 5 inches between your heels and the floor.  Keep repeating for the desired number of reps.

Again like ab crunches, we don’t want to be doing a silly amount of repetitions on this exercise.  So in order to make it more difficult to hold a weight between your feet.

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Best Variations Of the Above Exercises

Using the techniques above you will dramatically increase your abdominal development.  There are a few variations of the above exercises.  These include:

Cable Crunches

Roman chair leg raises

Hanging Leg Raises

BFG Muscle Abs Workout Plan

The first thing I would do is focus entirely on your form and do each exercise with just your body weight.  Eventually, you will look to add weight into each exercise.  This will keep the reps intense and allow for progressive overload without constantly increasing your reps until you are spending hours banging out 100s and 100s of them.

As you now know,  The two exercises above and their variations are the only exercises you need to develop strong, toned and muscular abs.  There are of course 100s of other exercises you can do, but with all my training principle I keep things simple as this is the best way to get results.

Workout 1

Cable Crunches – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Lying Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Once you can do all 3 sets of each exercise in good form as per above then it’s time to start adding weight.  You are looking to hit a minimum of 10 reps and no more then 12 on the cable crunches and a minimum of 15 reps and no more then 20 on the lying leg raises.

Add the smallest amount of weight in as possible when the time comes.

Lying Leg Raises – When its time to add weight into the movement.  Simply hold a dumbbell between your feet.

Workout 2

Roman Chair Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Lying Ab Crunches – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Roman Chair Leg Raises – Like the lying leg raises, simply add a dumbbell between your feet when weight is needed to increase intensity.

Lying Ab Crunches – When it comes to adding weight into this exercise, you can either hold a plate above your head with slightly bent elbows (my prefered option) or hug a plate into your chest.

Workout 3 (Optional)

This workout is optional.  Personally, I have always found I get the best results when training my abs twice a week.  This is due to each ab workout being as intense as the rest of my training sessions.

Lying Ab Crunches – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Final Words

There you have it.  It’s simplistic in every way.  Like all other muscle groups, you do not need to over complicate things.  The simple basic exercises, done properly with progressive overload will give you the 6 pack you have always dreamed of.

There are many weird and wonderful exercises out there, but unless you are training them specifically for a sport you don’t need anything other than the basics.

I’m not saying you can’t add them in for variety, but just make the above your base plan.

Related: How To Get Your Lower Abs Popping

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Best ab exercises

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