Many people want the look of defined andchiseled abs (like Zac Efron or Britney Spears in the “Slave 4 U” video, which you may remember if you were a teenager in the early aughts). But there’s a reason washboard abs are usually seen on fitness professionals or celebrities: It’s really hard to achieve a six-pack. Ab benches—also called sit-up benches— may help you effectively work your abs (while supporting your back), which is why we need to talk about if and how this simple piece of fitness equipment works.
Are ab benches effective?
If you’ve never seen one, an ab bench looks like a backless bench with a padded seat. You can change its positioning depending on the exercise you’re doing and what part of your abs you’re trying to work. “Ab benches have always been a staple of any gym and with good reason. The ab bench, when used correctly, is the best way to train all of your abdominal muscles,”Juliet Kaska, a Vionic Innovation Lab member and celebrity fitness expert, tellsLively.
Because they offer padded support, ab benches can be especially helpful if you experience back pain while doing ab exercises on the floor.
How do you do abs on a bench?
You don’t need to incorporate any new or different ab exercises when working abs on a bench (though you can if you want to shake things up). “Standard floor crunches and abdominal exercises are great, but with an ab bench you get additional benefits that you cannot get on the floor. It depends on the bench you are using but many have various degree angles you can progress with over time,” says Kaska.
Can you get abs from calisthenics?
Calisthenics are exercises that use your own body weight as resistance (like lunges, planks and pull-ups), and you can definitely use calisthenics to work your abdominal muscles. “Calisthenic exercises utilize your entire body, therefore your abs are getting worked on every move. By just adding in a little focus you can take these further to benefit your abdominals by bringing your awareness to ‘moving’ or engaging the movement from your abs,” Kaska tellsLively. She says you can try a push-up, but when you are preparing to push up, focus on pushing or pulling up from your abs: “This will make you shake! Remember you can have the best abs but if they are hidden under a pouch no one, not even you, will be able see them.” So in addition to doing ab-building exercise, it’s important to be mindful of your diet if you’re looking for visible abs.
You could mix weights with calisthenics too, for example by wearing a weighted vest while holding a plank or doing sit-ups with a medicine ball
What exercise works out your abs?
A 2001 study by American Council on Education (ACE) showed that the traditionalbicycle exercise is the most effective exercise to train the rectus abdominis, with the Captain’s Chair—a gym apparatus that allows you to rest your arms and let your legs hang, then pull them up to your stomach and lower again— and crunches on the exercise ball coming in second and third, Kaska tellsLively. She adds that she personally likes all three of the aforementioned exercises.
If you’d like a bit more burn, you can add weights and resistance to your bench ab workouts, but “don’t add weight into your ab workout until you have mastered good form and function with calisthenic abdominals first,” advises Kaska.
Vital note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.