Unique but Effective Ab Exercises

Looking back over the years, it’s almost amusing seeing all the gadgets and toys that were brought out to get 6 pack abs.  Do you remember that crazy electronic gadget you put on your stomach that makes your abs contract over and over?  I mean, c’mon… seriously?

But people fell for them.  People were looking for that “secret” to carve out the stomach and show off that lean midsection.  I’m glad I never got any of those silly things that don’t work.  However, I do question my birthday present when I was 6.  My older sister gave me a toaster and said it was a bath toy.  I never used it, but I don’t see how that would be fun.  That’s a whole new article.

I will say that there is one “gadget” that was unique at one point, but it has become more and more popular.  It’s the ab wheel.  When ab wheel rollouts are done right, you actually work your abs very well.  It’s one my favorite ab exercises, along with the cross-body mountain climbers.  It’s really no longer “unique”, because you see more and more of them in gyms, including hotel fitness centers.

Today, I do have some unusual ab exercises that you can put into your core program that will help you sculpt your abs.  They are a great way to add some variety to your ab exercises.  We all know that variety can lead to consistency, right?  But before I show you these exercises, you must promise me that you understand that nutrition is the biggest key to 6 pack abs.  If you agree, you can read on.  If not, you can go read some silly magazine promising you the best abs in the world with lots of cardio and crunches.  Here lies the truth.  I sound like a preacher, and that’s kinda awesome.

Why These Unique Ab Exercises are Effective

Crunches only work a small portion of your abs, and they also can put unnecessary strain on your neck and back.  For time invested, it’s not even close to being worth it.

In order to work your abs effectively, you must work the entire abdominal wall, as well as incorporate stabilization.  Hhhmmm, this is getting a little “sciency”.  Let’s go with this.  Do these unique ab exercises for a 6 pack and eat whole, natural foods.  The end.

Seriously, these unique exercises will carve out your 6 pack much better than sit-ups or crunches.  Enjoy…

The Ab Exercises

Alligator Crawl – Assume the close-grip pushup position.  Keeping your abs tight and embraced, as well as keeping your arms close to your sides, crawl like an alligator.  As you lift your left arm, you will lift your left foot and vice versa.  Some things are better with video:

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zVNx5IO628

Decline Spiderman Pushups – The Spiderman pushup is pretty much a staple with my advanced clients.  They are a great way to work the core. But to make that move even harder, you can perform a decline Spiderman pushup.  Set yourself up as if you’re doing a decline pushup, with your feet on a medium platform or bench.  As you descend into the pushup position, bend your left leg, aiming your left knee towards your left hand.  Return to the starting position and do the same with your right side.  Again, seeing is believing:

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxK_nv63QtQ

Stir-the-Pot – This is quickly becoming another one of my favorites.  Put your arms on the stability ball as if you’re going to perform a stability ball plank.  Maintaining a straight line with your body, “stir” the ball to the left and repeat with the other side.  It’s real important that you keep your abs embraced and don’t let your hips sag.

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRgHuJhvA_8

Superman Pushup – The Superman pushup is when you perform a basic pushup, then extend one arm directly out in front of you, and then return to the starting position.  You then repeat that with the other arm.  You can watch the video below, but you have to promise not to laugh at the goofiness.

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akEB7PTovjc

Burpee/Spiderman Pushup Combo – Let’s get a little crazy.  This is a total body ab exercise.  This is a fairly new one I’ve been experimenting with myself and one of my advanced clients.  It will help sculpt that 6 pack as well as rev up your metabolism.  Good times.  You perform a burpee, but once you drop down into the pushup position, you perform two Spiderman pushups rather than one basic pushup.  Who is sadistic enough to come up with that?

Mike Whitfield <= This guy.

See it here

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Evldbig1KKI

1-Arm Incline DB Chest Press – It’s not so unusual to do a 1-arm chest press, the unusual part is how hard it works your abs.  The idea is to lift heavy.  Try this dandy one with 6-8 reps.  Perform a 1-arm db incline chest press, with the arm that’s not working on your abs (so you can feel them getting shredded and working hard… duh).

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dWp2U-7gag

Inchworm – Don’t let something that looks so simple fool you.  The inchworm can have your abs smoked within seconds. Bending over with your hands in front and on the floor, simply inch your way forward with your hands until you’re in a pushup position.  Then, bring your feet in while your hands are on the floor and you raise your body like an inchworm.  I’m not good at describing this, so here is another video:

=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBgNMUolYuA

So, there are some unusual, yet effective ab exercises that you can put into your 6 pack ab toolbox.  Ha – what a cool sentence that was.

Finish Strong,

Mike (Mikey) Whitfield

Certified Turbulence Trainer

Abs Workouts of the Past 15 Years

When I first started lifting weights and doing ab workouts, I really didn’t know what I was doing. So let me tell you about some of the crazy ab exercises and training sessions I did back in the day involving ab crunches, sit-ups, and so many other ineffective and potentially dangerous exercises.

You see, I had started working out for the typical teenage boy reasons. I wanted to get big muscles to impress girls, and I wanted to get bigger, stronger, and faster for soccer and hockey.

My first ab workouts were done at the local YMCA after a few of my friends and I snuck in one night.  We were those kids who went from machine to machine, not knowing what we were doing, and annoying – and probably intimidating – all of the regular customers.

And for that, I apologize, and to make it up to you, I’m going to share some really great ab workouts after I tell you about the abdominal exercises to avoid.

After causing havoc at the YMCA, I started lifting weights in my parent’s basement after purchasing a traditional York barbell machine weight set. Every other night, when I was 16 years old, I would go downstairs and do a full body workout routine followed by 100 crunches.

I did that because that is what the workout booklet told me to do.

Eventually, after buying a few fitness magazines and reading about the ab workouts of pro bodybuilders and fitness models, I started adding sets and reps of different ab exercises to the list.  Soon I was doing hundreds of crunches, bicycle crunches, side crunches, and even sit-ups.

And while these exercises made my abs burn, nothing changed in the mirror. Well, at least not in terms of my abs. The weight machine exercises were helping pack on some muscle – in addition to the manual labor done at my after school job, and because of my teenage hormones.

Eventually I came to the decision that ab crunches and sit-ups were not helping me achieve my goals.  By that time, I was in college and had access to a fully equipped, state-of-the-art gym. Plus, the Stability Ball had made its entrance into the fitness world.

So at this time, I was doing ab workouts that used stability ball crunches, Russian twists, and decline situps, and while my abs were sore, sometimes my back was sore too.

Some Abs Exercises Can Be Dangerous

The problem with this approach and these ab exercises is that they are all potentially dangerous for your low back. Each of these abs exercises puts your spine in flexion or rotation, and research has shown that rotation and flexion are the exact movements that cause herniated discs in your low back. Ouch.

I was shocked to find this out, but as soon as I did, I removed these from your workouts. They should be used rarely, if ever, and the great news is that you don’t need these exercises if you want to build six pack abs or have great ab workouts.

So if you find your back stiff and sore, you need to stop those exercises immediately. As mentioned, one day I stopped doing all of these ab exercises in my workouts.

They weren’t helping or making a difference for my six pack abs, but they were hurting my back. So they had to go. In reality, as long as you are keeping the fat off with interval training, metabolic resistance workouts, and diet, you’re going to have sexy abs. You don’t need to do 30 minute ab workouts.

However, you do need to do certain ab exercises to protect your back and improve your performance in sports, lifting, and every day tasks. (Great abs even help in the bedroom.)

So here’s what you need to do now. If you’re a beginner, you MUST throw away all of the crunches and sit-ups that you are doing, and you’re going to switch over to stabilization exercises like planks, side planks, and this cool little exercise called “The Bird Dog”.

These movements will help you build up abdominal endurance – and a nice flat stomach – so that you are ready for advanced ab exercises.

When you are at that point, you’ll want to use “anti-extension” and “anti-rotation” exercises like stability ball rollouts, TRX fallouts, stability ball “stir the pot” movements, and many more that I’m going to share with you in an advanced ab workouts article.

Get started with the TT for Abs DVD workouts here

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Certified Turbulence Trainer