These are the best and worst abdominal exercises, according to new research

best exercises for getting abs

Whilst that visible six pack is made in the kitchen, a strong core is vital for strong running. Yet which exercises are the best when it comes to working your core?

Related: How to build a strong core for running 

A new study, published by the American Council on Exercise, looked into this, ranking the best and worst abdominal exercises in order of their effectiveness.

The study looked at the results of a number of different exercises, from the traditional crunch to an ab roller, on 30 healthy men and women aged between 20-45. The participants were a mix of occasional to regular exercisers. The results were studied by analysing the muscle activity during each of the 13 different exercises using electromyography equipment.

Related: 4 essential core moves for runners

According to the study, the best exercises for hardening your core are:

1. Bicycle crunches

best exercises for getting abs

According to the study, the bicycle crunch was the most effective exercise when analysing the muscle activity in the abdominals.

To complete a bicycle crunch, lie on your back with your lower back pressed into the ground, bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten your right leg, whist turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee.

2. Captain’s chair

best exercises for abs

For this exercise you’ll need to be in a gym. Using a captain’s chair or a seat-less chair with back and armrests, let your legs dangle straight down, before raising your knees up towards your chest. Engaging your ab muscles, slowly lower your legs back down and repeat.

3. Crunches on an exercise ball

best exercises for abs

According to the study, the third most-effective abdominal exercise was the simple crunch, but on a medicine or balance ball. Lie on the ball with your hands behind your head and complete the simple crunch, using your core muscles to lower yourself down and bring yourself forwards.

According to the researchers, although crunches on an exercise ball generated less activity in the obliques and rectus abdominals than some of the other exercises on the list, as it generated less activity in the leg muscles, it was more targeted to the abs and the best overall exercise.

Related: The best core swiss ball moves for runners 

The worst exercises for working your core:

Researchers found the least effective exercises on the list were the traditional crunch, an exercise tubing pull using a resistance band, and using an ab rocker. Researchers noted: “the ab roller was no more effective than the traditional crunch, while the Ab Rocker was up to 80% less effective.”

For best results, the author of the study recommends adding several of the top-rated exercises to a five minute, daily routine.

The 13 exercises used, ranked most of least effective were:

1. Bicycle crunches

2. Captain’s chair

3. Crunches on an exercise ball

4. Vertical leg crunch

5. Torso Track

6. Long arm crunch

7. Reverse crunch

8. Crunch with heel push

9. Ab Roller

10. Hover

11. Traditional crunch

12. Exercise tubing pull

13.Ab Rocker