Thank you, science.
There are only so many non-working hours in a day for sweat sessions, networking events, and, oh yeah, actually having a social life. So when we hit the gym, we gotta make the most of our time.
Luckily, recent research published in the journal Physical Therapy has revealed the best, most efficient way to work all of your core muscles. After placing electrodes all over participants’ abs to measure muscle activity, researchers had volunteers do 10 different types of abs exercises including crunches, standard situps, Swiss ball exercises, and severalplank variations to see which moves worked the most core muscles the most efficiently.
The best exercise for your entire core is…drumroll please…souped up planks! Specifically, the study found that the most effective abs exercise is planking in a prone position (that means your standard push-up position plank) with your legs up on an exercise ball instead of feet on the floor. As you balance on the ball, perform hip extensions by alternately lifting each leg.
If you're trying to specifically strengthen certain areas of your abs, the researchers pulled together some interesting findings on that, too: If you want to focus on upper and lower abs, crunches and bent-knee situps tend to fire things up the most. Meanwhile, if you want to target those waist-slimming obliques, the researchers suggest planking on an exercise ball while raising one leg, doing side crunches on an exercise ball with your legs extended on the floor, or sticking to your standard side-arm plank.
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