Strong abdominal muscles benefit the body by giving us more than that six-pack look craved by so many men these days. The abdominal muscles are comprised of the rectus abdominus, transverse absominus and the external and internal obliques. The website Fit Step.com notes that they help flex the spine and move the pelvis, protect the internal organs, stabilize the torso and rotate the upper body. A strong upper abdomen helps the body in all these areas.
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A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise and conducted by the biomechanics lab at San Diego State University ranked this exercise as “the best exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominus, which includes the long flat muscles extending along the front and sides of the abdomen,” the Discovery Health website reports. The study included both men and women. It is performed by lying on your back with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Contract your abdomen to press the small of your back down and place both hands on the back of your head. Alternate touching one knee to the opposite elbow in what Discovery Health called a twisting motion similar to pedaling a bicycle. Extend your legs fully on every repetition.
Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Place the soles of both feet together and allow your knees to fall apart toward each side. Place both hands behind your head and use your abdominal muscles to lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Be careful to not pull on your head with your arms. The closer your feet are to your pelvis the more difficult this exercise becomes, Six Pack Now.com reports.
Sit on the edge of a chair with both feet on the floor. Grab the seat of the chair with both hands and bring your knees toward your chest without arching your back. For added challenge, hold this position for two seconds. Your neck and shoulders should remain relaxed throughout this exercise.
Lie on the floor with your feet supported on a chair or weight bench. Bend both knees at approximately 90 degrees. Place both hands on the back of your head. Press the small of your back into the floor by flexing your abdominals. Slowly lift your shoulders and head off the ground until both elbows are six to eight inches from your knees.