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Men's Health

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Flat Abs for Men: Go-to Exercises

Want 6-pack abs? Here's how to get them.

Flat Abs Exercise: Bicycle Maneuver continued...

Here’s how to do this exercise:

Lay flat on your back and place your hands loosely on the sides of your head. Raise your legs, bending the knees at a 45-degree angle, keeping your lower back flat to the ground. Then move your legs as if your feet were pushing the pedals of a cycle. As you "pedal," touch your elbow to the opposite raised knee -- right elbow to left knee, left elbow to right knee.

Get it right:

  • Don’t hold your breath. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise.

Flat Abs Exercise: Stability Ball Crunch

Crunch exercises can be more effective when done on a big inflatable ball called an exercise ball. The ACE-commissioned study of ab exercises showed that crunches done with the aid of an exercise ball generated 39% more activity in the rectus abdominis, and 47% more activity in the obliques than a traditional crunch done on a floor mat.

Here’s how:

Sit on an inflated exercise ball, feet flat on the floor. Roll down on the ball, so that the middle of your back rests at the top of the ball. Hold your thighs level with the floor, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing outward, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Contract your abdominal muscles, curling your chest toward your pelvis. Keep your lower back in contact with the ball and your feet firmly set on the floor. When you’ve taken the crunch as far as you can, hold it a moment, then slowly relax, returning to the starting position.

Get it right:

  • Use a properly sized ball for your height. A ball 26 inches in diameter is recommended for men 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall.
  • A more fully inflated, harder ball makes for a more difficult workout. A properly inflated ball should give slightly under your weight.

Flat Abs Exercise: The Plank

There are many variations of this exercise, which as the name suggests, involves a rigid, straight posture. A basic plank exercise is similar to a push-up. Robinson says it’s an important ab exercise to start with because it helps people become aware of their core muscles. Holding your body rigid, you can feel how those muscles keep you from collapsing, he says.

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