The more I train, the more I learn. For instance, all those ab exercises you may see around the gym may not be good for you at all. Leg raises, V crunches, and sit ups are all loading the hip flexors, which if you’re living in the modern world need stretching rather than contraction (the latter shortens them). But our goal here is to work the abs, not hip or femur muscles.
How To Train Abs
Ab wheel rollout
Whether you want a six pack or not ab training is very important especially at the very beginning of your fitness journey. Weak ab muscles can cause a range of health problems as well as issues with some of the exercises where core strength and stability help make the movement easier.
You can start with the simplest classic exercise known as crunch if you just joined a gym and want to tone and strengthen your core. Lie down with your back on the mat and your feet on the ground, legs bent in the knees. Put your hands behind your head and pull your shoulder blades up from the floor without tearing your lower back off the floor. In this movement only your rectus abdominis (six pack muscle) works while in the classic sit-up version where the lower back comes off the floor hip flexors become dominant. And this is what we should avoid as tight hip flexors can cause lower back pain and problems.
If you want to effectively and safely build a six pack or simply strengthen your core there is one thing you should always watch out for in the ab exercises. Your pelvis and back should curl towards your chest if you’re doing a variation of leg raises or knee tucks, or it should stay on the ground if you are doing any variation of curls. Other good exercises that do not engage your hip flexors are a plank and ab wheel rollout.
If your goal is a solid six pack you’ll have to add some weights to your ab training. The great exercise for this is a cable crunch.