START Facing the weight stack, grab a rope attached to an overhead cable. Kneel down on the floor. Hold a rope end steady on each side of your head. The weight will remain elevated from the stack throughout the set.
DO IT Making sure your back is rounded, not flat, crunch your abs to bend forward at the waist as far as you can go, holding the peak contraction for a count. Allow the weight to pull you back to the start position.
Form Tip Don’t sit back as you bend forward, a common mistake, as that means action is taking place at the knees as well.
Mid Ab Exercises
Hanging Leg Raise
START Hang at arms length from a pull-up bar with your feet together.
DO IT While keeping your torso steady, raise your legs as high as possible, keeping your legs as straight as possible. At the top of the move your legs should be above the horizontal plane to the floor.
Form Tip Swinging shifts the focus away from the abs. To minimize momentum, come to a complete stop at the conclusion of each rep and perform the concentric (up) and eccentric (down) half of each rep at a controlled pace.
Hanging Knee Raise
START Hang at arms length from a pull-up bar. Keep your feet together and maintain a bend in your knees.
DO IT While keeping your torso steady, raise your bent knees as high as possible. The higher you go, the more the lower abs have to work, so don’t do partial reps.
Form Tip This is generally seen as an easier version of the hanging leg raise, but even those who can get 15 reps of that exercise can benefit from this one. Hanging knee raises allow you to bring your knees higher and curl your hips up for stronger contractions, sort of like a vertical reverse crunch. Again, work to minimize momentum.
Decline Twisting Crunch
START Hook your ankles under the pads of a decline bench. Lie halfway back and hold your hands behind your head, cupping it.
DO IT Crunch as high as you can, then aim your left elbow toward your right knee, turning your shoulder toward the opposite-side knee. On the next rep, aim your right elbow toward your left knee. Alternate sides with each rep.
Form Tip Don’t just flap your elbow across your body to fully engage your obliques; consciously turn your shoulder to the opposite-side knee.