6 Best Ab Exercises (According to Science)

6 Best Ab Exercises

There are thousands of ab exercises out there available for you to do, but wouldn’t it be nice to know which ones are the best and which ones are the worst. If we can only focus on the best exercises then we certainly can get faster development of our six-pack abs.

Fortunately, ACE which is the American Council on Exercise conducted a study to test out different ab movements to find which exercises produce the best results.

It’s pretty in-depth research comparing 13 different exercises. The researchers looked at muscle stimulation and activity and ranked the exercises from worst to best.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in with the top 6 best ab exercises proven by science.

Best Ab Exercise. 6: Long Arm Crunch

Best Ab Exercise

The long arm crunch is one of the best ab exercises, and I highly recommend that you try it with a weight. This exercise primarily concentrates on working the rectus abdominus, which will help you develop your six-pack.

Moreover, you can do it without a weight, but It is recommended to take a moderately heavy weight load and pointing it straight to the ceiling.


There is a study published in 2009 in the journal of physical therapy in sport, found that using weights for your abs can greatly increase the stimulation of your rectus abdominus.

Back to the long arm crunch, make sure to crunch up just enough to lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and then come back down while keeping your arms pointed straight towards the ceiling all the time. It won’t take much to feel the burn from this exercise, this is an exercise that I usually recommend doing a drop set with.

This means that you should do 10 to 20 reps of weighted long arm crunches, and then immediately drop the weight and perform 20 more reps with only your body weight, and your hands stacked on top of each other.

Best Ab Exercise. 5: The Ab Roll Out

Best Ab Exercise

moving to the next exercise on the list ranking as the 5th best exercise for six-pack abs, we have the ab rollout and the torso track. These are both nearly the same exercise except one is done with an ab wheel, while the other one is done on a slippery track.


This is one that you probably won’t be doing with weights, but by training yourself to roll out further over time you can gradually put more stress on your abs allowing you to continuously overload your abs over time.

To perform this exercise, get on all fours with your arms locked out, the ab wheel straight under your chest. As a beginner do not roll out all the way because you can harm your back. Once you get comfortable sit your hips back to give you some leverage.

Once you’re ready, you can continue to do more advanced levels where you roll out to the point, and make sure your body is almost flat on the ground at the end of the movement.

This is one of my favorite ab exercises because you don’t need a lot of reps to break down a lot of muscle tissue and get stronger.

Best Ab Exercise. 4: Vertical Leg Crunch


For the next ab exercise, we have the vertical leg crunch, To start this exercise, you can begin with legs straight up towards the ceiling, and your hands either folded across your chest or preferably behind the head. Once again turn your shoulder blades up off the ground just enough and then lower back down.


Again, this is another exercise that I recommend you do with weights as soon as possible. When you are ready for a weight that it is recommended, you can use a dumbbell and hold it across your chest, or put the dumbbell behind your head to make it more intense.

Best Ab Exercise. 3: Crunches On An Exercise Ball

Best Ab Exercise

According to this study, the third-best exercise for abs was crunched on an exercise ball. When we say exercise ball we’re generally referring to either a stability ball or a Bosu ball.

Also to support this idea further, there was a separate study done on the Bosu ball, and the researchers found that the upper and lower abs were both about an average of 20 percent more active when an unstable surface like a Bosu ball was put under the lower back.

In other words, when you put a ball behind your lower back you get more range of motion, and more negative contraction in the movement making it a more effective exercise since the majority of muscle breakdown occurs during the negative portion of any movement.

To perform this exercise start by sitting on the stability ball, and then roll out until the arch of your lower back is on the ball. You don’t need to roll out too much because your upper back will be resting on the ball, and if you don’t roll out much enough you will fall off of the ball when you go down.

once you find that happy medium, lower yourself with your hands at the sides of your head, and let your back bend around the ball to get full prolongation. Then crunch up again just enough to lift your shoulder blades. 

Make sure you’re not straightening your legs to let you up throughout this movement because then you won’t be separating your abs. This is another practice that you can continue with weight either with your arms crossed over your chest or with the weight behind your head.

Best Ab Exercise. 2: Captains Chair


Moving on to the top 2 and the second most efficient ab exercises out of the thirteen studied the captain’s chair. Another variation for this exercise that it is noted all the time and it is known as the hanging leg raise or hanging knee tuck.

You can do the hanging knee tuck with a weight between your feet, but it is recommended that you spend much of your time perfecting this movement, so you can do it properly before moving up in weight. The important thing to remember with hanging knee tucks and leg raise are that you need to try to bring your hips and knees into your chest.

It’s not just about raising your legs up and down because, without the crunch movement in the torso, you’ll just wind up working your hip flexors rather than your abs.

This is a very efficient exercise not only for your lower abs but for your all rectus abdominis in general.

Best Ab Exercise. 1: Bicycle Sit-Ups

Best Ab Exercise

Finally, exercise number one in this study was the bicycle sit-up which also is known as the bicycle maneuver. There is also another advanced variation of this exercise that I call navy seal sit-up, and I use it in my ab routine a lot.

let’s start with a basic bicycle sit up. To perform this exercise put your hands behind your head and both of your feet above the ground, then take your opposite elbow to the opposite knee as you lift your shoulder blades off the ground, then switch sides and take the other elbow to the other knee and go back and forth for reps.

For the advanced version, you come up much higher during your sit up before allowing your elbow and knee to meet, then you lower back down before coming back up for the other side. Once again you can perform this exercise with weights at the sides of your head to make it even more difficult.

Those are the best 6 pack ab exercises according to the study done by ACE. These workouts are great to do at home for men and women.


Read Also: 10 Best Abs Exercises For Six-Pack

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