Your abs, or abdominal muscles, are a group of muscles in your midsection that help you move your body, support your torso and keep your organs in position. You can’t improve the condition of your abs with a weightlifting exercise called a bench press. However, you can improve your abs with an exercise that features some of the elements of a bench press.
You have four separate muscle groups in your abdomen. The paired rectus abdominus muscles run from your pubic bone to your ribs and help you move this portion of your torso. The paired internal oblique muscles sit on either side of your rectus abdominus muscles and help you twist your torso. The paired external oblique muscles also sit on either side of the rectus abdominus muscles and help you twist your torso. The paired transversus abdominus muscles sit deeper inside your torso and help you keep your torso stable and regulate the pressure exerted on your abdominal organs.
When you perform a bench press repetition, you primarily work the medial and anterior deltoid muscles in your shoulders, the triceps muscles in the backs of your arms and the pectoral muscles in your chest, according to the American Council on Exercise, or ACE. You also use additional muscles to stabilize your body, including the posterior deltoid muscles in your shoulders, the rotator cuff muscles inside your shoulder joint, the rhomboid muscles in your upper back and the serratus anterior muscles between your shoulder blades and rib cage. You do not work the muscles in your abdomen.
Stability Ball Dumbbell Press
You can work all of your abdominal muscles with a bench press-like exercise called a stability ball dumbbell press, ACE reports. To perform this exercise, you will need to lay your back on a large, inflated stability ball, then use dumbbells to make a motion similar to that found in a standard bench press. In addition to your abs, this exercise works your triceps muscles, pectorals and anterior and medial deltoid muscles.
The results of any abdominal exercise vary from person to person, Peter Francis, Ph.D., and Jennifer Davis, M.A., of the San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab report. Factors that can affect the outcome of these exercises include your level of athletic ability, your familiarity with the exercise you’re attempting and your history of any injuries that may hamper your exercise performance. The most effective exercises for conditioning your abdomen include the captain’s chair, the reverse crunch and the bicycle maneuver. Ask a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor for detailed information on how to safely and effectively perform these exercises.