Ab workouts performed on machines don’t build functional strength. Doing ab exercises on the floor is a more realistic type of training, but most people spend their days moving around in an upright position. The ab muscles aren’t just there to look hot when you have a six pack. Their job is to stabilize and move the spine. By doing ab exercises standing up you more closely mimic real-life situations Adding standing exercises to your ab workouts creates a more comprehensive routine, and they’re fun!
Standing Bicycle Maneuver
An ab workouts study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that the bicycle maneuver was the most effective ab exercise for the rectus abominis, the largest muscle of the abdomen and often called the six pack muscle. If you want six pack abs, you’ve got to work the RA hard. What the study didn’t test was the standing variation of the bicycle maneuver. Because your core has to stabilize your torso while you alternatively stand on one foot instead of lying comfortably on the floor, this exercise could cause more activity in the RA.
Starting Position: Stand up straight with your hands behind your head and your feet together. Relax your shoulders, so they’re not by your ears.
Action: Exhale and tighten your abs as you lift your left knee toward your right shoulder and twist shoulders to the left. Try to touch your right elbow to your left knee. Inhale as you lower your left leg and return to the starting position. Exhale again, but this time raise your right leg and twist your shoulders to the right. Continue until you have done at least 10. Work up to 20-30 repetitions.
Tips: It is okay to bend forward slightly, but do not try so hard to touch your elbow to your knee that you lean forward or round your back. If you can’t lift your leg that high, just bring it up as high as you can and consider doing some knee to chest stretches daily.
One of the few standing ab exercises that is relatively well-known is the side bends exercise where you stand holding a dumbbell between each hand and alternatively lean to the side. It’s a great exercise for the RA and the obliques, but if you don’t have a dumbbell or even a barbell to hold across your upper back, you can modify the exercise to use your body weight. Instead of just bending to the side, you stand on one leg and add a leg lift to give your abs more a challenge.
Starting Position: Extend your arms over your head and touch your palms together as if you were diving. Start with your feet together.
Action: Exhale and bend your torso to the right as you swing your right leg sideways and up toward the ceiling. You’re essentially doing a side leg lift from a standing position. Inhale as you lower your leg and stand up straight again. Lean to the left and exhale as you lift your left leg. Continue alternating sides until you have done 10 on each side.
Exercise tip: The higher you lift your leg, the more unstable your body is and the harder your abs have to work. However, don’t lift your leg higher than you can control or you risk falling.
Add these two exercises to your ab workouts and you should see improvements in ab strength and balance. They may also improve your posture if done regularly.
Don’t let anyone fool you that ab workouts fight belly fat. Ab exercises are strength training exercises, which mean they build strength, not burn fat. Although there is some correlation between more muscle and a higher metabolism, the way to eliminate belly fat is to perform more cardio and eat fewer calories.
<h3>About the Author</h3>
Sarka-Jonae is a personal fitness trainer with certifications from NASM and AFAA. She trained clients at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, and in-home for several years before switching to writing full-time. She also taught group exercise classes and worked as a massage therapist. Sarka-Jonae is a published author. Her debut novel, Between Boyfriends, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.