Ab exercises form the core of any substantial workout. And rightly so. If there are weak muscles in the abdomen and core (Abs, Obliques, Mid & Lower-Back), then it will be difficult to properly exercise all the other muscle groups. When the abdomen is strong, everything else is easier – keeping good form, maintaining balance, or impressing that person you have got your eye on at the beach.
Good form is essential to making the most of any abs workout. Without good form, injury is much more likely. When you are doing your ab exercises it is essential that you pay attention to maintaining alignment of the spine and good solid exercise technique. Being aware of your body positioning will make the ab exercises more effective.
There are more than 225 unique exercises listed in the Exercise Lab that can be used to strengthen the abdomen. Each of them requires something different in regards to form. It is always a good idea to add new exercises to a workout circuit a few at a time so there is sufficient time to learn to complete them properly with the specified range of motion. Learning an ab exercise using the wrong form could lead to muscle imbalances or injury.
Speaking of balance, the abdomen helps protect the spine and these exercises should be done with care. Always check your form before engaging the ab muscles, being sure that you are pulling your belly button into your spine as you move through each ab exercise in your circuit. Also, it is important to practice symmetry when doing ab exercises. Whatever one does to one set of obliques should be done to the other set. (This should actually be done for all muscle pairs, not just those in the abdomen.)
We all know that ab exercises will not banish belly fat; you will need to add a good high intensity cardio program for that. However, consistently strong ab exercises will make sure that as you melt the belly fat away, there will be something worth looking at left behind. And this will impress help you sport that six-pack! For the most impressive visual impact with the smallest time investment, add a hanging leg raise exercise to impact the rectus abdominis (the "six pack"), and then a vertical leg crunch or a full vertical crunch. These ab exercises will engage the highest number of muscles in the abdomen at a single time giving you the best results possible.
Most personal trainers agree that ab exercises can be done on a daily basis without needing to skip over them the way other large muscle groups need a day or more of rest. Obviously though, you should listen to your body and not push it if there is pain. Knowing the difference in your own body between pain and a healthy muscle fatigue is essential. If you take care of your abs properly, form, balance, and a nice looking mid-section should be easily attainable.