Fitness Articles

The 13 Best Abs Exercises

Fitness News Flash

Page 1 of 2
We often get questions about the best abs exercises—after all, who doesn't want to tone their tummy in the least amount of time? There are countless exercises that target the abs, including fitness DVDs (Does "8 Minute Abs" ring a bell?) and even pricey machines that you often see on infomercials. But do you need a video or specialized piece of equipment to get the abs of your dreams?

A study conducted at San Diego State University's Biomechanics Lab (and published by ACE, the American Council on Exercise) says no. Their research revealed that the best exercises for your abs don't require any gizmos, and are surprisingly easy to fit into your day.

Researchers looked at the effectiveness of 13 common abdominal exercises—everything from crunches to the "Ab Roller"  machine. Using EMG (electromyography), researchers measured the muscle activity of the participants to determine which exercises best targeted the abs and the obliques, while also limiting the activity of the hips and thighs (because when an abdominal exercise is executed poorly, the hips and thighs engage to "help out" the abs).

Overall, researchers said that all of these exercises are "relatively effective" ways to train the abs—but some are more effective than others.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Hi! For many days I'm suffering from back pain that's why I don't usually do exercise in a plain floor. I use ball which give me more relaxation as well as comfortable. This really effective for abs exercise.
    Through http://treadmillr -this link you can gather a clear knowledge about best, reliable & comfortable treadmill product. - 3/19/2016 6:30:33 AM
  • FUN! Thank you! - 10/1/2015 5:38:43 PM
  • I am all for taking care of the core, but ab rollers and crunches are not the main things to spend your time with, lift weight on a bosu. planks, ball work. I can tell you chiropractors made a bit of money with me until I learned to stop using the "roller". Stability is where it's at! - 7/9/2015 6:24:12 PM
  • If you have a bad back, try the low-impact core exercises for new mothers. These are the same exercises my PT has me doing instead of crunches, which are terrible for your lower spine.
    ss_articles.asp?id=541 - 1/5/2015 2:13:37 PM
  • The BEST abs exercise is the one that you DO. - 11/17/2014 10:04:34 PM
  • I am having trouble around the waist as well I can lose hips easily but not the "waist buldge". - 6/23/2014 9:39:15 AM
    I need to get rid of the ' spare tyre ' around my waist. I've tried almost everything. Nothing seems to work HELP !!!!!!!!

    - 3/26/2014 10:19:18 PM
  • I'm surprised that planks rate so low! When I do traditional ab exercises (like the #1 rated exercise) my abs never feel worked out (none of that "good" soreness the next day) but my hip flexors sure do! The most workout I feel that my abs have gotten is when they need to help me stabilized myself for other exercises, like tricep presses (believe it or not) or standing (slightly leaning back) rows. Best yet is some of the belly dance moves that I've learned, done drill-style (100 chest lifts - working the upper abs, 100 omi - working lower abs, lower back, and obliques, camels - working lower back and lower abs, they are also really awesome for a sore lower back!). - 2/21/2014 11:23:11 AM
  • I love working with the ball, so much easier on my back then the floor - 8/27/2013 6:53:14 AM
  • My trainer agrees with those comments. In fact he recommended that I don't put them in my exercise routine. - 7/17/2013 9:29:01 PM
  • Most physical therapists are very against crunches! Too much strain on the back for the majority of people. A P.T. who specializes in pelvic disorders (from a broken pelvic bone, which is what I had last year, to incontinence, what they treat the most), would tell you that sit ups are the worst thing for your pelvic floor muscles. Mine told me doing a push up is encouraging your female organs and your bladder to SHOOT right out of you! Do planks and bridges instead! I learned a lot from her and my general P.T. about NEVER EVER doing sit ups! - 7/17/2013 12:52:02 PM
  • I like working my abs on the stability ball....but I have some inner ear issues and doing the ball makes me really dizzy, even nauseous. Weird but true. - 7/17/2013 6:27:09 AM
  • Thanks - 7/16/2013 2:11:37 PM
  • Thanks. Loved it. - 7/3/2013 8:16:09 AM
  • ab rocker machine? are you guys nuts? - 1/21/2013 8:40:18 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by July 8! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.