In this article I will introduce 15 body weight abdominal exercises that you can begin your abs training with. They are strictly meant for beginners but I still use some of them nowadays. “-Okay so how do you train abs?” That was a question couple of my friends addressed at not too long ago. What […]
In this article I will introduce 15 body weight abdominal exercises that you can begin your abs training with. They are strictly meant for beginners but I still use some of them nowadays.
“-Okay so how do you train abs?” That was a question couple of my friends addressed at Jordan Jovtchev not too long ago. What Jordan said was that during his early training years up until he was 35 he would never worry about abs. He wouldn’t even do dedicated training for them. Why? Because the abs are included in most advanced gymnastics exercises. So once you build enough strength and switch to more advanced moves you are going to be exercising your abs during each workout session. For example once you start doing l-sit pull-ups you will need to flex your abs in order to keep your legs straight in front of yourself. Same thing applies for the pullover. The abs are even more seriously involved in the more advanced moves such as the l-sit to handstand, dragon flag, front lever, l-sit muscle up.
However before you get to this level of gymnastics where you will execute moves complex enough for you to work your biceps and abs along with your back and triceps, you will have to begin with simpler exercises that will build the foundation of your abdominal and core strength. This is what this tutorial is about.
Couple of notes before we start:
- For the purpose of what is to follow I will divide the abdominal muscles in two groups – front muscles(upper and lower abs) and side muscles(the obliques).
- Whilst executing the exercises maintain a relatively slow speed. One repetition should take 2 seconds - 1 second on the way up and 1 second on the way down.
- Always pull using your abdominal muscles only!
Exercises For the Front Abdominal Muscles:
I recommend 2 arm positions in the exercises where you are elevating your torso(sit-ups, crunches, etc):
Harder positioning:rubberbands and keep it in your hands when performing any of these variations.
The sit-up is the main abdominal exercise and a lot of the following variations derivate from it. Actually the sit-up and the push-up are probably the most popular exercises around the civilised world. It is with the sit-up where you should begin developing your abs if you haven’t already. The sit-ups work all parts of your abdominal muscles but keep the focus mainly on your upper and middle abs.
Opposed to the sit-up, during the crunches you should go only 1/3 or 1/2 of the way up(as illustrated on the picture) and then go back down again. This is going to focus the intensity on your upper abs. Actually this is one of the greatest exercises for upper abs in the beginning tutorials.
3. Reversed Crunches
A harder variation of the crunches are the reversed crunches. The only difference between both is that in the reversed crunches you are supposed to keep your legs in the air(just slightly above the ground) during the whole exercise. Thus you will work your lower abs as well as your upper abs.
4. Leg Raises
This is the reverse of the sit up. Your torso will remain on the ground and you will only lift your legs up to a 90 degrees angle with your upper body and then go back down and repeat. With this one you will be exercising your lower abs.
A powerful variation of the Leg raises would be the 3 way leg raises. That would mean to raise your legs making 3 stops on the way up. One stop at a 30 degree angle, one stop at a 60 degree angle and one at 90 degree. Each of these stops would be a 1 second hold on the way up and on the way down. This variation will immensely develop the strength and shape of your lower abs!
5. Hip Raises
Begin with your legs being at a 90 degrees angle with your upper body. From there lift your hips above the ground(refer to the image above) and then bring your hips back down keeping the 90 degrees angle. Due to the similar nature of the exercise compared to the leg raises I suggest combining them in one exercise. Thus for example one can start in a full body lying position on the ground, from there keeping his legs straight he will lift them to a 90 degrees angle and perform a hip raise.
6. Knee Hugs
Hug your legs with your hands and release. This exercise will work both your upper and lower abdominal muscles.
A harder variation of the knee hugs would be the V-Up(hence the body position). The difference is that you should keep your legs and arms extended throughout the whole movement. Again pull your upper body and lower body(pull simultaneously in order to maintain balance) towards to each other. At the very top part of the move you should look similarly to me in the photo above. Try holding the top position for a second before you let go. This is a very powerful exercise to develop strength in both your upper and lower abs!
Like the name suggests you should move your legs pretending that you are riding a bicycle. Once this variation gets easy you can make it harder by keeping your upper body slightly above the ground(in a crunching position) whilst performing the move.
9. Rubberband Sit-Ups
Inevitably the exercises listed above will get easier as you progress with your workouts. This must not give you the illusion that you can no longer benefit from them. All of these are fundamental abdominal exercises that you can still gain from if you know how to keep reaping benefits out of them. The example that I have provided for this article is based on the rubber band resistance force. Attach a rubberband behind you and grab it with your hands. Keep your hands close to your head and make sure they are completely static. From there pull your torso up to the sit-up position. The rubberbands go in many different resistance levels so you can keep replacing them every time you get stuck with the one you are using. Also you might need something to put your feet under to counter the pulling force from the bands.
Exercises For The Side Abdominal Muscles:
Okay so far we have been talking about upper and lower abs. Now let’s talk about the obliques. The obliques are the muscles on the side of your stomach. The exercises below are targeting them in particular.
10. Knee To Elbow
Despite the 2 aforementioned hand positions I want you to place your hands behind your head. Then every time you go up touch one of your elbows to the knee that is opposing it. For example if you start with your right elbow you will attempt touching it to your left knee and vice versa – your left elbow will go with your right knee.
11. Side Leans
Begin by lying on the ground with your arms straight next to your body and knees bent(look at the photo above). From there lean to your left side and touch your left heel with the fingers of your left hand(look at the photo above). Alternatively on your next repetition you will want to touch your right heel with your right hand. At the beginning of each repetition you have to lift your torso slightly(refer to the crunches) above the ground, then lean to the side, then go back down and repeat.
12. Side Crunches
In this exercise again, you want to touch your elbow to your knee. Only that this time your legs are straight and your right elbow goes with your right knee. In order to maintain good balance you can slightly shift your weight to the opposite, non-working side of your body(refer to the picture above).
13. Oblique Twists
Get into a position where both your torso and legs are above the ground keeping something heavy in your hands(medicine ball or a weight plate). Maintain that position only moving the ball from side to side. This exercise will work your arms as well!
14. Windshield Wipers On the Floor
Begin in the top position of the leg raises(refer to leg raises above). Then having your arms to the side for balance start rotating your legs from side to side keeping them straight. If you find this exercise too hard you can first attempt it with your legs bent!
The plank is a nice exercise for a finisher of your abdominal exercises workout. Once that you have gone through a various number of the exercises above. The position is similar to a push-up position only that you are resting your torso on your elbows instead of your palms. Hold it for an amount of 30 seconds to a minute and 30 seconds.
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