I do not have a lot of time to workout and, as a
result, I like to choose exercises that give me the most results
from the little time that I am able to spend in the gym. I only
have time to do one, or at the most, two exercises to work my abdominals.
Could you tell me what exercise, in your opinion is the best one
for building good abdominals?
A. In my opinion, the best
abdominal exercise for building an awesome midsection is the bicycle
crunch. If I could only choose one abdominal exercise to do, this
one would be the one for sure.
The reason for this is because this is the only exercise whose
complex movement involves all of the following abdominal muscle
The Rectus Abdominis (composed of upper and lower abdominals)
The Oblique Muscles
The Intercostal Muscles
The Serratus Anterior
As a matter of fact, the American Council of Exercise (ACE) recently
conducted a study at the San Diego State University comparing the
effectiveness of several abdominal movements. What my experience
at the gym taught me to be true was proven by the researches when
the bicycle crunch came in as the abdominal exercise that produced
the most activity (and thus, the most training stimuli) out of the
group of exercises they looked at.
Bicycle Crunch Exercise Form
The key to making the bicycle crunch work for you is to use perfect
Concentrate on perfect execution of the movement, getting a good
contraction and feeling the abs throughout the movement.
The correct way to perform the bicycle crunch is the following:
Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground.
For this exercise, you will need to put your hands beside your head.
Be careful however to not strain with the neck as you perform it.
Now lift your shoulders into the crunch position.
Bring knees up to where they are perpendicular to the floor, with
your lower legs parallel to the floor. This will be your starting
Now simultaneously, slowly go through a cycle pedal motion kicking
forward with the right leg and bringing in the knee of the left
leg. Bring your right elbow close to your left knee by crunching
to the side, as you breathe out.
Go back to the initial position as you breathe in.
Crunch to the opposite side as you cycle your legs and bring closer
your left elbow to your right knee and exhale.
Continue alternating in this manner until all of the recommended
repetitions for each side have been completed.
Notes: While you cannot add resistance to this exercise you can
concentrate on perfect execution and slow speed.
What Other Exercises Are Good?
In case you are wondering, leg raises performed on the vertical
leg raise chair (the one with a back padding and handles also known
as Captain's Chair) came in second place and crunches performed
on a stability ball (also known as a Swiss ball) came in third.
Sample Busy Bodybuilder Abdominal Routines
If you only have time for one exercise I would then do 3-4 sets
of anywhere between 15-50 repetitions of bicycle crunches Monday,
3-4 sets of leg raises on the vertical leg raise chair on Wednesday
(15-25 reps), and 3-4 sets of stability ball crunches on Friday
for 15-50 reps. You can do them right before starting your workout
as that serves as a great way to warm-up. Rest only 30-60 seconds
in between sets.
Keep in mind, that without a proper bodybuilding diet that emphasizes
fat loss and without cardiovascular exercise you will not be able
to achieve the level of definition that will enable you to see the
results of your hard abdominal routines; unless, of course, you
have great genetics or are a naturally skinny hardgainer.
Also remember that abdominal exercises only help to build up and
tone the muscles of the midsection. However, as I mentioned on my
Bodybuilding Abdominals Training Guide, the diet and the cardiovascular
exercise are the components of the bodybuilding program responsible
for reducing the levels of body fat that are covering the abdominal
wall. Once you go below ten percent body fat you can start seeing
your abdominal wall, and every percentage that you drop from there
will give your waistline a much more impressive appearance.
Best of luck!
Hugo Rivera CFT, SPN, BSCE. is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, multi
certified personal trainer, industry consultant and fitness expert
who not only knows training and nutrition theory,
but also applies it on a daily basis as evidenced by the fact that
he's always in shape and by his awards and high placings at numerous
national level bodybuilding competitions. He is also an internationally
known best selling fitness author with a very successful franchise
of books called "The Body Sculpting Bibles" which collectively
have sold over a million copies. Hugo is also author of the very
Re-Engineering” e-book, which teaches you how to gain
lean muscle mass and get lean without drugs, or fancy expensive
supplements, using the secrets he devised after many years of weight
problems as a child.For
more information on Hugo’s Muscle Building / Fat Loss Program
please click on the link below: