How to Use an AB Bench

Man working his  back on hyperextension bench
A man exercises on an ab bench. (Image: targovcom/iStock/Getty Images)

An ab bench is a simple piece of fitness equipment for doing advanced abdominal exercises. It can be used to perform various styles of crunches. An ab bench resembles a small, decline weight bench. At the top end of the bench are pads to hold your feet in place. Many ab benches are adjustable. The steeper the decline, the more difficult the crunch. Use an ab bench to work your entire midsection including the rectus abdominis, the main ab muscle, and the obliques, the side abs.

Decline Crunch

Step 1

Set the ab bench angle based on your fitness level. If you are a beginner, set the angle near the bottom. If you are advanced, you can set a fairly steep angle, around 45 degrees.

Step 2

Lie back on the bench. Secure your feet under the pads at the top of the bench. Place your arms across your chest or behind your head. Do not clasp your hands behind your head. Gently place them near your ears. This will prevent you from yanking on your neck during the exercise.

Step 3

Press your low back into the bench. Your low back does not lift off the bench at any point during the movement.

Step 4

Exhale as you crunch up, lifting your shoulders off the bench. Hold the top of the crunch for two counts.

Step 5

Inhale as you slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Do not let your upper body fall back onto the bench. Control both the lifting and descending phase of the exercise.

Twisting Decline Crunch

Step 1

Position yourself on the bench with your feet secured under the pads. Cross your arms on your chest. Your right hand will be next to your left shoulder and your left hand will be near your right shoulder.

Step 2

Exhale and crunch up, pulling your shoulders off the bench. As you crunch, twist your torso to the right as though you are pointing your left shoulder to your right knee.

Step 3

Hold the top of the crunch for two counts. Gently lower your shoulders back to the bench.

Step 4

Crunch up again, this time twisting your right shoulder to your left knee. Hold the crunch for two counts, then return to the starting position. Continue alternating sides.

Tip

Exhale as you crunch up. Inhale as you lower.

Keep your low back pressed into the bench at all times.

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