Want to get a six-pack faster? Yeah, join the queue mate. Now, this abs exercise we'll be talking about here has been proven, by at least one set of experts, to be THE best core exercise. It is the Absolute Abs Champ. The GOAT of six pack workouts. But it won't just help you get a six pack. It will also improve core strength. It's both functional and aesthetic. A renaissance man amongst core exercises and abs workouts.
With the belly apocalypse that is the festive season approaching, many of us are thinking about shaping up (or shipping out). You might well be thinking right now, do I want to build muscle in general? Should I learn how to get a six pack? Or maybe I should just lose belly fat first? If your late-year resolution involves building a strong core and also getting visible ab muscles, research might just have found the best abs exercise you can do.
A research with the admittedly not too enticing name, "Not only static: Stabilization manoeuvres in dynamic exercises – A pilot study (opens in new tab)" was published online in August 2018, and looked at what part of the abdominal muscles are being activated by which exercises. It naturally found that some abs exercises work the core more than others. The same goes for the rectus abdominal muscle, aka 'six pack muscle'.
Is there a golden combination of exercises that will result in a strong core and chiselled six pack? It seems there is, if this study is anything to go by. And the good news is, it's a move we've looked at very recently at T3.
The science bit
We won't go into too much detail here – you can always read the full research by clicking through the above link if you want – but, in summary, researchers recruited 20 young adults to carry out a course of static and dynamic abs workouts.
During these exercises, test subjects were asked to perform abdominal brace and abdominal hollow manoeuvres. The former is when you pull your abs in – like when you are on the beach after a period of over eating. Abdominal hollow means your lower back muscles are activated and the abs are stretched outward.
To assess muscle activation, EMG data from the rectus abdominal muscle, external oblique muscles, internal oblique muscles and erector spine muscles were recorded. Participants performed three exercises in a sequence: kneeling plank, side bridge and crunch. Side bridges were performed on the knees as opposed to on the toes.
One of the main finding of the study was that, "surface muscles are more activated with abdominal brace manoeuvre exercises," while, "deep abdominal muscles get more activated in exercises with abdominal hollow manoeuvre."
Based on these assessments researchers found that rectus abdominus and external oblique muscle were activated the most when participants performed plank exercises combined with an abdominal brace.
Now, if only there was a plank variation where you pull your abs in…
The IMPORTANT bit
Of course, there is one such exercise: the hardstyle plank.
Hardstyle plank is very similar to a standard plank but as opposed to 'just' holding your body – which admittedly is hard enough in itself – with the hardstyle, you 'pull' your elbows and your heels towards the centre of your body, without actually moving them.
This braces your abs and so, according to science, this is the ultimate abs exercise to build a strong core and get a six pack. QED.
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