When I say “ab workout” what do you think? Crunches? Actually working your abdominals involves a lot more than just crunches.
Your abdominals are a complex series of muscles that surround your trunk. There are the external abdominal muscles, like the rectus abdominis (which is what people refer to when they say “6 pack abs”) and the external obliques. Then there are the internal abdominal muscles which include the transverse abdominis and internal obliques. Your obliques and transverse abdominis are what help when you are leaning over or off balance or rotating side to side. The rectus abdominis is the muscle that flexes your trunk.
When you do crunches you are doing trunk flexion. To build strong abs though you should incorporate motions and situations for all of the different ab muscles. Think about it, how often in life do you find yourself suddenly flexing your trunk like you do in a crunch? Compare that to how many times you find yourself twisting, turning, leaning, or unevenly loaded down with something.
Here are some ideas to make your ab routine more profitable:
1. Stand holding a weight in both hands. Place your feet wide apart, pointing slightly outward.
2. Raise the weight to one side of your head with arms slightly bent. Rotate head and body in the direction of the weight.
3. Bring the weight downward diagonally across the front of your body to the opposite hip by rotating torso and bending forward slightly.
One Sided Carry:
1. Firmly grasp a weight with one hand, arm straight by your side. Stand up tall, shoulders level and back. Do not let the weight touch your body. The key to making this a useful exercise is finding a weight that feels heavy to hold.
2. Just standing tall, not letting your body lean to compensate for the uneven load is working your abs already.
3. Walk across the floor keeping your shoulders level and the weight away from your body the whole time.