Once you’ve mastered the crunch and have a good handle on the sit up, you are ready to move on to the ab exercises that will ‘rip’ your midsection. In order to add muscle mass to any muscle group, a substantial amount of weight must be employed while exercising. With any other muscle group this is a simple task; you just add more weight. With ab exercises, however, adding weight is often cumbersome and can be dangerous if you’re not ready. It is important to have perfect form during weighted ab exercises for safety’s sake and because if they are performed inaccurately, you’re wasting your time.
The sit up is a great standard for developing ab muscles. Once you can accomplish at least three sets of twelve with ease, you should move on to a more difficult version of the sit up. Most gyms have benches that can support the user’s feet while doing sit ups on them. If you can stabilize the bench, elevate the end where your legs go, so that you will be laying at a 45 degree angle while doing the sit up. This will make the sit up more difficult and thus more effective. Try a few sit ups in this new position. If you feel comfortable in this position, grab a flat weight (one of the weights used for bench presses). Hold the flat weight to your chest and begin your sit up routine. Make sure that the weight that you grab is heavy enough so that pulling off three sets of eight is difficult. If you require a flat weight that is too large to hold to your chest while doing sit ups, simply turn the weight on its side so that it is horizontal. Keep part of the side on your chest while you do your routine. Never move the weight off your chest. The weight must be on your chest in order to be added to your sit up; otherwise, you are cheating.
Another excellent advanced ab exercise is the weighted exercise ball crunch. While doing crunches on exercise balls, make sure that that you begin with the ball touching the small of your back, and you end with the ball beneath your tailbone. To add weight to this exercise, simply employ the same flat weight technique used for weighted sit ups.
Oblique muscles are the framework for your ‘six pack’. They are often over looked by most, because in actuality they are small muscles that will not make themselves known unless they are specifically worked on for a long period of time. Their purpose is to aid the body in twisting and bending motions, and thus in order to work on them, you must twist or bend. When beginning a routine that specifically targets your obliques, dumbbell side bends are excellent for the inexperienced. With one dumbbell in one hand, put your hands to your sides. Bend your body to the side that has the weight (remain facing forward). Once you have finished your first set, put the weight in your other hand and perform a set. Each set exercises one side, so doing three full sets will actually involve six sets. Be sure and grab a dumbbell that is heavy enough for three sets of 12-15 to be difficult.