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Developing a strong core has both physical and aesthetic perks. Not only can it improve your posture and help to reduce back pain. A strong core helps to support your spine for better balance and stability.
Doing ab exercises on a bench adds versatility and an extra challenge to your routine by working your core muscles in different ways.
There are also practical benefits to bench ab exercises like having an increased range of motion, which you wouldn’t have by working out on the floor, and a comfortable and stable support.
Stick around to discover the best ab bench workout to fire up your abdominal muscles. But before that, let’s look in a little more detail about the anatomy of the abs.
Your Ab Anatomy In More Detail
Your abdominals are a muscle group that comprise of several other muscles:
- Rectus Abdominis – this is your six-pack muscle which sits just under the skin and helps to flex your torso.
- Transverse Abdominis – this muscle is directly beneath your rectus abdominis, and wraps around the body helping to protect your spine.
- Internal Obliques – these are located under your external obliques and help with twisting and flexing of your torso.
- External Obliques – this is the largest abdominal muscle responsible for flexing and rotating your torso.
An effective bench ab workout is a great way to work all these muscles, giving you versatility so you aren’t just limited to performing the regular sit up.
Enhance Your Core Strength With These 7 Best Ab Bench Exercises
Let’s jump into our highly recommended best ab exercises to work your whole core, all you need is a workout bench.
Decline Abdominal Crunch
This exercise is a variation on the regular abdominal crunch that you perform with your upper body in a decline position. You can either use a standard adjustable bench if it has a decline element or a specific decline bench (found in many commercial gyms) for this exercise.
How To Do A Decline Abdominal Crunch:
- Start by setting the back rest of your bench at a declined angle, around 35 to 40 degrees.
- Position yourself on the bench and make use of any feet or ankle supports, this will give you greater stability during the exercise.
- Place your hands either at the side of your head or on your stomach. This is your starting position.
- Brace your core and bend at the hips to raise your torso from the back pad. Try and avoid using momentum with your upper body.
- Exhale as you lower back to the start and be sure to keep your abs engaged throughout.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Calves Over Bench Sit-Ups
This sit-up bench exercise is a great way of targeting the rectus abdominis. Place your hands behind your ears during this movement as opposed to interlocking the fingers behind your head.
This will prevent you from pulling on your neck helping with proper form. You can make this exercise a little easier by bringing your elbows closer together.
How To Do The Calves Over Bench Sit Up:
- Lie down on the ground just in front of your weight bench.
- Position your feet on the bench so that your feet, ankles, and lower legs are fully supported.
- Place your hands behind your ears.
- From here, engage the hip flexors and raise your upper body with the aim of touching your head to your knees.
- Slowly and with control, lower yourself back to the start.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
The reverse crunch is a good way to specifically target the lower ab muscles which are usually a little more difficult to recruit.
If you’re new to this exercise, keep the back support pad flat to begin with. To progress, you can alter the back pad to different angles. The steeper the angle of the pad, the more challenging the exercise.
How To Perform A Reverse Crunch:
- Lie back on the bench and ensure your upper body is fully supported.
- Place your feet on the end of the bench to begin with.
- Reach back with both hands and grab the end of the bench for support.
- Extend your legs out in front of you and adopt a slight bend the knees. This is your start position.
- Keeping your legs straight, lift your hips up and off the bench to bring your knees towards your chest.
- Focus on contracting the lower abs, then lower back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Hip lifts are one of the more challenging abdominal exercises but is a great way of activating the deepest muscles of your core.
Keep the bench in a flat position to start with. If you want to increase the resistance on your muscles, reduce the decline of the bench making it more challenging.
How To Do The Hip Lift Exercise:
- Lie back on the bench with your upper body supported.
- Take both hands behind you and hold the end of the bench.
- Raise your legs straight up so that your feet point towards the ceiling. Keep a slight bend in the knees.
- Keeping your legs in a straight line, engage your abs and use your hips to push your feet towards the ceiling.
- Your hips should come away from the bench slightly at the top of the movement.
- Lower back down and repeat this movement for 10 reps.
Seated Knee Tucks
Seated knee tucks are a compound exercise that can be performed either on the ground or by sitting on your bench. It’s a great exercise for improving core strength, especially working your middle abs.
How To Perform Seated Knee Tucks:
- Take a seat on your bench and place your hands either side holding on for support.
- Extend your legs out in front of you and maintain a slight bend to the knees.
- Simultaneously lower your upper body back a little. This is your start position.
- Together, pull your knees up to your chest and raise your upper body so they meet at the top.
- Make sure you engage your abs throughout the movement.
- Lower your upper back and legs back to the start and repeat for 10 reps.
Flutter kicks are a variation on leg raises and a little easier to perform so this is a good exercise for beginners. You can perform this exercise in several ways, including on the ground (this reduces range of motion), with your upper body positioned on an inline or simply on a flat bench.
A common mistake with this exercise is to allow for an overarching of the lower back. This can put a lot of pressure on your hip extensors, so make sure you press your lower back into the bench.
How To Do Flutter Kicks:
- Sit on the very end of your exercise bench, then lie back.
- Shuffle forwards slightly so that your glutes are just hanging over the edge.
- Your upper body and head should be resting on the bench. Press your lower back into the bench.
- Reach back with both hands and grab hold of the bench.
- Raise both legs off the ground, only go as high as you can whilst ensuring your lower back remains flat on the bench.
- From here, perform slow kicks up and down alternating each leg.
- Instead of counting reps, continuously flutter the legs for around 60 seconds.
Oblique twists, sometimes called Russian twists, will primarily work your internal and external oblique muscles.
For this exercise you’ll also need something to increase resistance on the muscles such as a weight plate or medicine ball.
How To Do Oblique Twists:
- Take hold of your weight and sit at the end of your bench and place your feet on the other end, keep a slight bend to your knees.
- Hold your weight with both hands at around chest height.
- Keeping your spine in a neutral position, lower back your upper body until you feel your upper abs engage.
- Slowly rotate the body to one side and as you do, bring the weight down towards your hip.
- Return to the top before rotating to the other side.
- Repeat this movement 3 times at 20 repetitions.
Why Is A Strong Core Important?
The core muscles help to provide movement and support to both the lumbar spine and pelvis.
Your spine and pelvis need a lot of support as this area of the body has to withstand high forces and stress.
When the muscles of the core are strong and supportive this helps to reduce pressure to the discs and joints thereby reducing the risk of injury and making activities of everyday life easier.
Here are some other benefits of a strong and well developed core:
- Enhances posture
- Improves balance and stability
- Supports back health
- Boosts overall athletic performance
- Helps to prevent injury
- Improves functional movement
- Contributes to a toned mid section
With a proper nutritional plan, our bench exercises for abs can help them to pop, showing off your six pack. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, you’ll be increasing support to your lower spine and hips which can also help to improve posture and reduce low back pain.