When it comes to abdominal exercises, many individuals tend to only utilise several exercises in their workout regime. It’s always important to constantly shock your body and keep your muscles guessing in order to continue to progress and this theory is no different when it comes to your abdominal muscles; variety is the spice of life and should never be forgotten!
One key exercise for the abdominal muscles and one which is performed by the majority, day in day out, is the simple abdominal crunch. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this exercise and it definitely has its place in an abdominal workout regime, but is it enough on its own? The answer is probably not. If you were going to the gym to undertake a chest session you wouldn’t just perform the flat bench press would you? Well the same principle applies to your abdominal muscles, especially if you are looking to achieve optimal results.
The aim of this article is to introduce two further abdominal exercises which will target both your abdominal muscles and the surrounding core. Did I also mention that they are performed whilst hanging? Read on and see what both of these exercises require of you;
To perform this exercise stand below a pull up bar and grasp this bar with both hands in a comfortable grip. From this position raise your legs by bending at both the hips and knees until you have reached a position of maximum flexion at both joints. When this is achieved continue to raise your knees in an upward direction by applying flexion at the waist. This is not an independent movement and should be a continuation of the hip and knee flexion.
On achieving this, slowly start to reverse the process by allowing extension at the waist, hip and knee regions of your body. This will return you to your start position. This is one repetition.
The preparation and starting position for this exercise mimics that of the hanging leg-hip raise exercise outlined above. The only noticeable difference is that the execution movement only requires bending at the hip joint. The knee joint remains in a straightened position throughout the entire exercise, resulting in a straight leg raise as opposed to the bent leg alternative.
When the hips are at full flexion you are still required to integrate waist flexion into the exercise to further progress the exercise. On achieving this, again slowly start to reverse this process by allowing extension at the waist and hip regions of your body. This will return you to your start position and is one repetition.
In theory the latter is a progression of the former exercise but they also tend to work well as a superset; whereby one is performed immediately after the other. Each exercise places slightly different emphasis on the abdominals and surrounding core musculature. The difficulty of each exercise can also be further enhanced by increasing the time in which each repetition is performed, as well as applying an additional load to your lower limbs to enhance resistance.
One additional point in relation to the execution of both exercises is that any noticeable swinging during the performance of the exercise should be omitted wherever possible and to the best of your ability. The swinging can interfere with maintaining proper technique, reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and reduce the ability of your surrounding core muscles to activate and maintain rigid throughout.
If you’ve never experienced these hanging abdominal exercises previously, or you’ve simply omitted them from your abdominal workout regime, then it might be worth introducing or reintroducing both exercise variations back into your schedule. Remember, just as with the other major muscles within your body, the abdominal muscles need variety and variation too, so why not try shocking your core whilst ‘hanging around’ in the gym!