1) The Deadlift. Try lifting an extremely heavy weight off the floor with good form and tell me that your trunk muscles aren't firing. The deadlift is one of the finest midsection strengtheners I know of. But don't take my word for it-- the research has been done: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2007/11000/Trunk_Muscle_Activation_During_Dynamic.22.aspx (read in particular the part in which it states: "In addition, the 80% 1RM deadlift ULES EMG activity also exceeded the body weight squat, deadlift, superman, and sidebridge exercises by 66.7, 65.5, 69.3, and 68.6%, respectively."). In short, pick up heavy stuff properly, get killer abs.
|Beats the hell outta crunches.|
2) The Pullup. Not too long ago, I gave myself a challenge, as I am wont to do. I decided I was going to do 500 pullups in 5 days. Because I'm stubborn, I completed my challenge. And yeah, my back and arms were extremely sore from the unfamiliar volume, but you know what was the most fatigued? You guessed it-- my abs. Make no mistake, pullups (done properly, of course) are one heck of an abdominal toaster.
3) The Farmer's Walk. Farmer's walks are well-known in the strongman community. The concept is simple: pick up a weight (or two) and walk with it:
4) The Hanging Leg Raise. Hanging leg raises are not easy, but they're extremely effective. The idea is to hang from a bar by your hands and raise your legs straight up until your feet (at minimum) touch the bar-- without using momentum. They look a lot like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6eF19zP9dk There are, of course, lots of variations on this exercise to make it easier or more difficult, but this is the general idea.
So there you have it-- my Big Four Abdominal Busters. That having been said, don't be fooled into thinking that strong abs translate to six-pack abs. You can do all of these exercises 24/7 until you're blue in the face, and you won't have a six-pack unless you change your diet. Abdominal muscles can't be seen under a layer of adipose tissue, and if your diet isn't spot-on, you're not going to see what you want to see in your body composition. Put all the pieces of the fitness puzzle together, though, and you'll be one lean, mean, good-lookin', bulletproof machine. :)
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