Advanced ab exercises are the key to building a good torso, but a lot of people simply keep doing their basic crunches and sit-ups to little or no effect. What most people don’t know is that there are good ab exercises that show immediate, lasting results are a lot easier to do than sit-ups!
When choosing more advanced exercises for your abs, stability ball knee tucks are great for targeting balance, stability, and, core strength. The arms and torso help stabilize your body as you draw the knees in and, at the end of the movement, give your abs an extra squeeze to intensify the challenge. Get into a pushup position with the ball under the shins/ankles (easier) or the tops of the feet (harder). Make sure the body is straight, back flat and the abs engaged. Roll the ball in, bending the knees towards the chest as you squeeze the abs. Try not to push back with your arms but, instead, keep all the movement in the knees. Don’t collapse the back as you roll the knees in. Return to start and repeat for 10-16 reps.
Ball pikes are an advanced version of the knee tucks and are very challenging. You can always modify the move by keeping the knees slightly bent or by shortening the range of motion and only lifting the hips a few inches, lifting higher as you get stronger. The key to making this move challenging is to use the abs to draw the hips up, rolling the feet on top of the ball. Get into a pushup position with the ball under the shins/ankles (easier) or the tops of the feet (harder). Make sure the body is straight, back flat and the abs engaged. Squeeze the abs and lift the hips up towards the ceiling, rolling the feet on top of the ball. Keep the legs straight for more of a challenge, ending in a straight-leg pike with the toes on the ball. Return to start and repeat for 10-16 reps.
Oblique Knee Drops
Oblique knee drops are a great way to target the obliques as well as the rectus abdominis and the back. The key to this move is to use your abs to control your legs as you lower them down and then contract them to pull them back up. Avoid arching or straining your lower back by keeping the range of motion small, only lowering the knees as far as you comfortably can. You can also try this move without a medicine ball or with a rolled-up towel under the hips for more support. Lie on the floor with knees pulled in and bent to about 90 degrees. Place a medicine ball between knees and stretch arms out to the sides like an airplane, palms facing up. Contract the abs and lower the knees down towards the right. Lower the knees as low as you can without lifting the shoulders off the floor or straining your back. Squeeze the abs, feeling your obliques contract and draw the knees back up and go to the other side.
Alternate sides for a total of 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.
Medicine Ball Extensions
This very advanced exercise targets multiple muscles including the abs, back, legs, and arms. To try this move, you might want to prop the ball sideways against a wall for stability and begin without the medicine ball to practice your form. This move requires tremendous balance and strength. If you feel pain in your lower back, keep the arms over the chest or just slightly lowered instead of dropping them parallel to the floor. Position the ball under the upper back to engage your abs and to stabilize the hips. Prop the ball sideways against a wall for stability if needed. Hold a light medicine ball or dumbbell straight up over the chest and make sure knees are at 90 degrees.
Lower arms behind you while simultaneously extending the right leg straight. Return to start and repeat, alternating legs for 10-16 reps. For less challenge to balance, do the leg extension without the medicine ball.
Plank With A Leg Lift
The traditional plank exercise is an excellent stabilization exercise that involves almost every muscle in the body with a focus on the abs and back. This version involves propping the feet on a ball and lifting the legs, one at a time, to add intensity to the exercise. To modify, place the ball under the shins or upper thighs. Place the ball under the shins or toes (harder) and the hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor. Contract the abs to hold the body in a straight line from head to toe. Keeping the abs contracted, lift the right leg off the ball a few inches, hold for a few seconds and lower. Repeat on the left leg, alternating feet for 8-16 reps on each side.
The woodchop is a challenging and dynamic exercise targeting the abs and back. It’s a great way to strengthen the core for twisting motions like those involved in golf, baseball, or tennis. You can do this move from the bottom up (as shown) or reverse the move and do it from the top down to change things up. The key to keeping this move safe is to rotate the hips and knees in the direction you’re moving and focus on contracting the abs. Attach one end of a resistance band to a sturdy object (such as a stair railing) near the floor. Hold the other end and take a few steps away to create tension on the band. You may need to loop the band around your hands several times. Keeping the arms straight, rotate the body and bring the arms up in a diagonal while squeezing the abs. Rotate the hips and knees as you turn to avoid injuring the joints. Rotate back and repeat for 10-16 reps before switching sides.
Rotations On The Ball
This advanced move not only works the core, with a focus on the obliques, it also targets balance, stability, and flexibility. To keep this move safe, keep the exercise slow and controlled and keep the knees in line with the shins and ankles rather than twisting them to one side or the other. Lie with the ball under shoulders, neck, and head, hips lifted in a bridge position. Hold a medicine ball or lightweight straight up over the chest. Tighten your abs and rotate your torso to the left as far as you can, allowing the hips and legs to move naturally with the motion. Rotate back up and then rotate to the other side. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps (one rep includes both the right and left sides).