Get The Most Out of Your Abs With this Science-Based Ab Superset Workout

by Suzanne Hiscock
Have you ever wondered if the ab exercises you're slogging through are really the best ones to be doing? Should you be doing crunches? Or should you move to Pilates and yoga ab exercises to strengthen your abs and core? What about the recent trend of standing ab exercises? Where do they fit into the picture?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) wondered about this, too.

Well, they did more than wonder. They tested a variety of ab exercises using EMG (electroymyography), which is similar to an EKG for the heart.

They also put together an ab superset workout based on the results. I've recreated the workout here and scoured YouTube for examples of the exercises.

You up for the most effective ab workout? The Results of the Test The ACSM compared abdominal exercises from Pilates, yoga and standing ab exercises to the standard crunch to test how effectively these exercises worked the outer ab muscles (rectus abdominis and the external oblique) and the deeper, inner ab muscles (transverse abdominis and internal obliques).

They discovered that Pilates and yoga ab exercises were more robust when compared to the crunch. They also discovered that the standing ab exercises didn't activate the ab muscles as much as the crunch.

But something about the standing ab exercises made them take notice: standing ab exercises work other muscles, like your lats, which, in turn, help create a stronger core. A stronger core means a stronger, stabilized trunk and a supported spine.

It's not just about the abs, people!

Does this mean you should stop doing crunches? Not at all. The crunch is still an effective exercise. But if you want to kick up the ab exercises a notch, try this ab superset workout.

The Science-Based Abs Superset Workout
Instructions: There are three supersets consisting of three exercises each. Do all three exercises in Set A -- A1, A2, A3 -- without rest. Then rest. Then do all three B exercises. Rest. Then do all three C exercises.

I've included videos to give you an idea of how to do the exercises. Some of the videos may contain other exercises or tell you to repeat a certain amount of time. For this workout, follow the reps I've indicated.

You'll find a list of the exercises at the bottom of the page that you can print out.

A1: Pilates 100 - Reps: 1 session of 100 counts

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A2: Bird Dog (Quadruped) - Reps: 10 for each side

Beginner:



Advanced:

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A3: Standing Front Crunch - Reps: 10 reps

This demonstration uses a cable but you can do it without a cable or you can use resistance bands.

 

REST
 

B1: Pilates Double Leg Stretch - Reps: 10

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B2: Yoga Dolphin Plank on Ball - Reps: 10 (hold for 3 slow counts)

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B3: Standing Bicycle - Reps: 10 for each side

 

REST
 

C1: Yoga Boat - Reps: 5 to 10

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C2: Yoga Side Plank - Reps: 10 each side (hold for 3 slow counts)

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C3: Hip Extensions on Ball - Reps: 10 (beginner) or 10 with each leg (advanced)

Beginner:



Advanced:

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Here's a list of the exercise you can print out:

The Most Effective Ab Workout

A1: Pilates 100 – Reps: 1 session of 100 counts
A2: Bird Dog (Quadruped) – Reps: 10 for each side
A3: Standing Front Crunch – Reps: 10 reps


REST

B1: Pilates Double Leg Stretch – Reps: 10
B2: Yoga Dolphin Plank on Ball – Reps: 10 (hold for 3 slow counts)
B3: Standing Bicycle – Reps: 10 for each side


REST

C1: Yoga Boat – Reps: 5 to 10
C2: Yoga Side Plank – Reps: 10 each side (hold for 3 slow counts)
C3: Hip Extensions on Ball – Reps: 10 with each leg


Keep in mind, doing ab workouts does not mean you'll have a flat tummy. You can't spot reduce. If you're looking to lose flab from the belly, you need to lose body fat overall by create a calorie deficit through food and exercise.

But what this ab workout will do -- besides burn calories -- is help you strengthen your abdominal and core section for a fit, healthy body.

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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN1 Nutrition Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 16 years, she has been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website, FitWatch.com. Whether it's with one-on-one nutrition coaching, nutrition programs or courses, and tools or calculators, she can help you to eat better, move more and believe in yourself.