Your choice of ab workouts can mean the difference between great progress and definite results in your abdominal area or not getting any results at all – and possibly being injured.

There are hundreds of muscles in the torso - the abdominals (all layers), lower and mid back, pelvic region, obliques and the popular 'love handle' areas are loaded with muscles of all different sizes, shapes, lengths and angles - which require specific ab exercises to produce the desired effect for optimal fitness.

The following exercises can serve as an abdominal training primer for beginners or they can be added or substituted into your current abs workout routine.

1 – Lying face up, hand down at your side. Bring your legs up, knees slightly bent with the bottom of your feet toward the ceiling. This is your start position. While keeping the abdominals pulled in (contracted), slowly lower your right leg, until the heel touches the ground, and then raise it back up. Do this fifteen times. Then switch legs.

2 – Lying face up with knees bent, feet off the floor. Arms are extended as if reaching toward the sky if you were standing. As you breathe out, slowly bring your knees toward you by contracting your abdominals (pulling inward). Then breathe in as you return to the start position.

3 - Lying face up with knees bent, heels on the ground and toes pointing up. Lift your butt off the ground, and pull your stomach in (contract the abs) to engage the core muscles. Now, here is where the fun starts. Lift one foot off the floor, extending that leg until it is straight, bring it back to the start position (heel on ground) and then do the same with the other leg. Keep alternating until you do a total of twenty reps, ten on each side.

If this exercise sequence is too easy, go through it again and see how you do. If it was too challenging, decrease the number of repetitions to about five and do this every other day. Gradually increase the repetitions as your core gets stronger.

A big mistake many people, even trainers, make is to mimic the abdominal routines of bodybuilders or power-lifters.

The problem with that is most people are not bodybuilders or power-lifters - and these people tend to over-train anyway (I know this because I used to do it myself!). The problems here range from a lot of wasted time to serious, long term injuries.

This happens every day to people who try to exercise without proper guidance and it’s one the reasons why physical therapists are so busy!

Proper ab workouts must be designed to provide the most effective exercise training stimulus to the entire midsection, in the shortest amount of time, with minimal risk of injury. The problem is it is extremely rare to find an abdominal and core exercise program that meets all of these criteria.

Structure your own workouts according to the principles outlined above, with the proper selection of ab exercises for effective and safe results.

Author's Bio: 

Joey Atlas, M.S. – Exercise Physiology, is the creator of ‘Abs of Stone – Core of Steel’, a complete series of Ab Training Workouts. He is a fitness consultant, trainer and writer in Jacksonville, Florida.

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