An ab bench workout is a killer way to really tighten those abdominals ahead of beach season. Your abs need to be trained the same as any other muscle group, and it is not enough to rely on them getting a secondary workout as a result of other movements or training methods. Many people underestimate the importance of a strong core and neglect targeting these muscles for various reasons.
Your abs consist of three layers of muscles
- Transverse abdominis
- Rectus abdominis
The best ab bench workout is designed to target all three muscle layers, giving you a balanced and aesthetic physique.
An ab bench workout should be structured in such a way that it works the deepest levels first and progresses outward to your superficial six-pack muscles. It is important to remember that when training your abs, whether you follow an ab bench workout or not, correct form comes above everything else.
- Best Ab Bench Workout for the Transverse Abdominis
- Definition Building Ab Bench Exercises for Your Obliques
- Great Exercises for training the Rectus Abdominis
- What are the benefits of an ab bench workout?
Best Ab Bench Workout for the Transverse Abdominis
Your transverse abdominis is your deepest layer of abdominal muscles. It works like an internal weight belt by pulling in and supporting your spine during movement. Training your transverse abdominis won’t give you a six-pack, but it will prevent back pain and help you perform all other exercises stronger and safer.
The following two ab bench exercises help you build stronger transverse abdominis.
1. Bench walk-ups
- Start in a plank perpendicular to the bench with your hands one foot from the edge of the weight bench.
- Pull your stomach away from the floor to create a tight, stable core.
- Move your right hand up onto the bench.
- Move your left hand onto the bench to meet the right by pressing into your feet and right and keeping your core tight.
- Repeat the movement starting with your left hand.
How Many: Complete 12 repetitions.
- Avoid twisting your body from side to side by pulling your abs in toward your spine.
- Position your bench against a wall to keep it from sliding away from you.
2. Bench plank knee tucks
- Start in a plank on your hands perpendicular to the bench with your feet on the bench.
- Slowly bring your right knee toward your right elbow keeping your back flat.
- Return your right foot to the bench with control.
- Repeat the movement with your left leg.
How Many: Complete 20 repetitions or a 60-second hold.
- Press your hands into the ground and pull your abs in to create tension throughout your body.
- Avoid twisting your body from side to side as you tuck your knees in.
- Modify to a plank hold if you can’t perform the knee tucks without keeping your body steady.
Definition Building Ab Bench Exercises for Your Obliques
Your obliques are responsible for your torso’s rotation and for resisting rotation when you want to stay stable. Chiseled obliques are visible and create definition along your sides. Strong obliques also help you avoid injury when doing any unilateral movement like lunging, running, and even single-arm exercises, to name a few. You should consequently implement ab bench oblique workouts, in addition to any weight bench workouts that target the other abdominal muscles, into your ab exercises.
Below are three great oblique movements to incorporate into your ab bench workout.
1. Bench wipers
- Lay on the bench and grip the underside of the bench by your head.
- Lift your legs to a 90-degree angle with your legs straight and feet together.
- Pull your stomach in to press your lower back into the bench.
- Twist and lower your legs together to the right.
- Return your legs to the center before doing the other side.
How Many: Complete 20 total repetitions.
- Only lower your legs to the point where you can keep your lower back in contact with the bench.
- Reduce the range of motion if you find it hard to control the movement.
4.Side plank crunch
- Start in a side plank with your right elbow on the bench.
- Stack your right shoulder over your elbow and raise your left arm to the ceiling.
- Bend your left knee and left elbow to meet each other.
- Return to the starting position.
How Many: Complete 8 repetitions on each side.
- Hold your abs tight to keep your hips from dipping toward the ground during the crunch.
- Modify this exercise by bringing your other hand to the bench for support and crunch only your leg.
- Lay on the floor perpendicular to the bench.
- Bring your heels to the weight bench with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Place your hands gently behind your ears without pulling your head forward.
- Twist and reach your right elbow toward your left knee bringing your right shoulder blade off the ground.
- Return to the ground and repeat on the left side.
How Many: Complete 20 repetitions.
Keep your elbows pointing out away from your head. Reach your elbow toward your knee by rotating your torso by engaging your obliques.
Great Exercises for training the Rectus Abdominis
The rectus abdominis is your six-pack muscles. It is the outermost layer of your abs and runs from your rib cage to your pelvis. It is responsible for bending the torso forward. Your rectus abdominis is the most visible layer of your abs, so building a strong rectus abdominis is the key to getting abs worth showing off.
The following two ab bench exercises are great for getting that chiselled look.
6. Straight leg lifts
- Lay on the bench and hold the bench behind your head.
- Bring your legs to a 90-degree angle with your body with feet together and legs straight.
- Pull your abs in to press your back into the bench.
- Slowly lower your legs as far as you can, keeping your low back connected to the bench.
- Lift your legs back to 90 degrees.
How Many: Complete 10 repetitions.
- Bend your knees to make the exercise easier.
- Only lower your legs as far as you can with your low back on the bench. Once your back arches away from the bench, your abs are no longer working.
- Keep your grip on the bench light to make your abs work harder.
7. Tuck ups
- Sit on the edge of the bench with feet hanging off the end.
- Place your hands on the bench behind you.
- Bend your knees toward your chest in a tuck position.
- Extend your legs straight as you lean back onto your elbows.
- Tuck your legs and press into your hands to return to the starting position.
How Many: Complete 15 repetitions.
- Focus on moving your legs and torso at the same time.
- Think of flexing your abs each time you tuck your body in. Don’t rely on your arms and hip flexors.
What are the benefits of an ab bench workout?
The benefits of an ab bench workout are that you get a complete workout that targets each of the three ab muscle layers individually. For best results, complete the above ab bench workout in a three-set circuit. Remember to ensure your form is strict and true. Follow good form above reps or speed. Using good form during your ab bench workout ensures that your abs are doing the work and get the best results.
The trick is not to overdo things; overtraining is never good and can delay results. Even if you just do this workout once a week by tacking it onto the end of your regular workout, you will be well on your way to a better and stronger physique.