Fitness Articles

The 13 Best Abs Exercises

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Check out their ranking of abs exercises (from best to worst) below:

1. Bicycle Crunches 2. Knee Lifts on Captain's Chair 3. Crunches on Ball


Click here for a demo.


Click here for a demo.


Click here for a demo.

4. Crunches with Vertical Legs: This exercise is just like a traditional crunch (see #11 below), but with your legs extended up into the air, in line with the hips.
5. Torso Track Machine
6. Crunches with Arms Extended: This exercise is just like a traditional crunch (see #11 below), but you extend your arms overhead, squeezing your upper arms by your ears as your crunch up and lower down.
7. Reverse Crunches: Click here for a demo.
8. Crunches with Heel Push: This exercise is just like the Crunches with Vertical Legs (see #4 above), except that as you crunch up you also slightly lift your hips off the ground (feet towards the ceiling).
9. Ab Roller Machine
10. Plank: Click here for a demo.
11. Traditional Crunches: Click here for a demo.
12. Exercise Tubing Pull
13. Ab Rocker Machine

To view the entire study report from ACE, click here. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this PDF.)

Action Sparked: It's important to remember that every individual performs exercises differently, and even in this study, an exercise that proved effective for one person was sometimes ineffective or uncomfortable for another person. Especially for people with back, spine or disc issues, it can be tricky to find exercises that don't aggravate your problems. So listen to your body and work at a level that is comfortable for you, and never perform an exercise that causes pain.

The big thing you can take from this study is that you really don't need to buy anything special to train your abs—traditional exercises prove to be better. But if you are going to invest in one piece of exercise equipment, a simple and inexpensive stability ball is the way to go. Not only are crunches on the ball ranked as #3 above, but the ball is extremely versatile for all types of exercises.

Remember that your abs are just like any other muscles in your body, so train them accordingly. That means 1-3 sessions per week, and 1-2 days of rest in between abs workouts. Also, be sure to avoid the top 10 abs training mistakes.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • 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
  • DBESMAN
    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
  • CHRISTINASP
    It's confusing that the title says 13 best exercises while the exercises listed are from best to worse.
    Also, too bad that of the first three, you do need materials for two of them, and of the first five, you need materials for three of the exercises, also. - 12/25/2012 5:46:09 AM
  • The instructions do not match the video. RIGHT ELBOW needs to touch RIGHT KNEE and LEFT ELBOW to LEFT KNEE....sure seems like model is doing the opposite elbow to knee! - 10/22/2012 10:56:40 AM
  • The title of this article doesn't match up with the content. How can something that experts say is 'relatively effective' make it into the list of "13 Best Abs Exercise?" - 9/27/2012 12:48:32 PM
  • I'd love to save this article, but I am finding it really hard to see a save to favorites button? I'd really like to refer back to these great ab exercises!
    - 7/28/2012 8:52:44 AM
  • MZNEWYEAR4LF
    even though I'm new to this it's been very helpful to me and my kids - 7/22/2012 10:30:59 PM
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