Remember to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program or routine!
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut while training abdominals, spending countless workouts doing boring, inefficient sets of crunches and sit-ups and never seeing the strength boost you’d hoped for.
These five ab exercises you’ve probably never heard of will put some variety back into your abdominal training and get your strength gains back on track.
They don’t require any special equipment and can be done anywhere! You can do these movements as a set number of reps, or do them circuit-style with a timer set for 30 seconds each.
Ab Exercise #1: Hollow Rock
The hollow rock is a classic gymnastics conditioning exercise that trains the entire abdomen.
- Start on your back with your knees pulled into your chest.
- Brace your abs and extend your legs on a 45 degree angle, keeping your lower back on the floor.
- Lowering your legs even closer to the ground will make the exercise more challenging.
- Extend your arms over your head.
- This is the “hollow” position, and looks a little bit like a banana.
- To bring some movement into the exercise, bring your upper body an inch or two closer to your legs, starting the rocking motion.
- Under control, lower your torso back down and lift your hips slightly.
- This motion looks like the rounded leg of a rocking chair as it rocks back and forth.
- You’ll be rocking your weight onto your hips and then back to your shoulders under control with each rep, maintaining contact with the floor under your lower back.
- See if you can keep rocking for 30 seconds! Hug your knees back into your chest at the end of your set.
Ab Exercise #2: Ab Crawl
The ab crawl is an excellent warm-up exercise or can be used in between lying abdominal exercises.
- Start on your hands and knees, bracing your abdominals lightly.
- Without changing the height of your hips, lift your knees an inch off the ground.
- Keeping the height of your knees, crawl slowly forward by moving your right hand and left foot forward, followed by your left hand and your right foot.
- Your back should stay level enough to carry a tray of food! Try to complete 10 steps forward before switching directions to crawl backwards to your starting point.
Ab Exercise #3: L-Sit (Progression)
The L-sit is another classic gymnastics exercise that you can do at a triceps dip station, using rings or parallettes, on the backs of chairs, or even between two rocks. While the full L-sit generally requires a great deal of flexibility and years of conditioning to execute correctly, there are many progressions that you can do with little difficulty that will still challenge you.
- For this progression, begin by bracing your bodyweight into straight arms by engaging your triceps and keeping your shoulders down.
- Straighten your legs out in front of you slightly.
- With braced abdominals, pull your knees into your chest as if you were rolling up into a ball.
- Extend your legs back down under control to the starting position.
- Try to complete 10 reps of this exercise.
Ab Exercise #4: Log Roll
- Beginning in a hollow position, the log roll exercise looks almost identical to the roll you probably did as a kid down the hills in the schoolyard. But looks can be deceiving, and this log roll requires a lot of abdominal strength to perform correctly.
- Begin on your back by finding the hollow position, the same starting position that you learned for the hollow rock exercise above.
- Using as little momentum as possible, bring yourself to rest on your left side and hold for a few seconds to balance.
- You should now be using your right obliques to hold yourself in an arched position.
- Under control, roll onto your stomach into a Superman back extension, holding for a few seconds.
- From Superman, you’ll roll slowly onto your right side, crunching into your left obliques and holding for balance.
- Lastly, take one more controlled roll to end back in your hollow starting position. The entire log roll is one rep.
- Try to complete the log roll in both directions in sets of eight reps.
- If you find yourself using momentum to roll, come back to the hollow position to reset and start again, using strength to initiate the movement.
Ab Exercise #5: Starfish
The starfish is an exercise that combines several common abdominal exercises into one.
Be mindful of keeping your lower back in contact with the ground at all times throughout the exercise.
- Start by lying on your back with your legs extending straight up from your hips.
- Reach up to your toes as if you were performing a crunch.
- Keeping your abs contracted, lower your arms out to the sides and your legs down toward the ground on a 45 degree angle.
- Only lower your legs to the point where you can keep your lower back on the ground.
- You should look like a starfish at the bottom of the movement with your feet and hands as far away from each other as possible.
- Using your abdominals, bring your legs and arms back to the “crunched” starting position, finishing the rep.
- Try to complete 12 reps in a set.
Adding these five exercises to your ab workout will add variety and boost your strength gains. Try doing a set of each exercise after a run outside, or add one or two of the exercises to your gym routine.
Since they don’t require any equipment, you can do them whenever is most convenient for you! Remember to counter your abdominal work with some back extensions or glute work to bring balance to your workout.