The Best Ab Exercise?

Garhammer Raise or Reverse Crunch

As a Personal Trainer, especially in Bondi Junction i get asked what is the best ab exercise all the time.  My answer to that is pretty much the same as any fitness related questions : “It depends”  Depends on your goal, depends how long you’ve been training, depends if you have injuries, depends if you have training history, depends what you do on your other training days, depends if you have mastered the basics.  But to keep this short this is one of my favorite abdominal exercises. 
At first glance it looks like a leg raise, but it’s actually only “half” of a leg raise. During a regular leg raise the first half of the movement involves mostly hip flexion, not trunk flexion. This means that the hip flexors (psoas, rectus femoris) do most of the work. Furthermore, since these are activated first they’ll tend to overtake the second part of the movement too. Obviously this leads to very little actual abdominal activation.

The Garhammer raise bypasses that problem by starting the movement with the hips bent at 90 degrees. From that position you perform a lumbar flexion to bring the knees toward your chest. This is a short movement, but it’s all abs!

The difficulty of the movement is increased by increasing the angle of the bench. You can go from the floor (as illustrated) to a low incline (15-30 degrees) to a moderate incline (30-45 degrees) to a steep incline (45-60 degrees) and finally to the hanging variation.

Reps should be in the 12-20 range and should be done slowly. If you can get 20 in good form, increase the incline.

Try it.  It’ll hurt like hell.  As with all abdominal exercises you should never feel this in your lower back.  If you do your compensating and need to regress the exercise to something easier.  

See you in the gym!

Personal Training Bondi Junction