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Abdominal Exercises What's Best

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I've lost about 20 pounds, which was my goal. But, my stomach area is still flabby. I do stomach crunches, so what more can I do?


Tummy needs tightening

Dear Tummy needs tightening,

Besides a flatter tummy, abdominal exercises are important for maintaining proper posture, preventing injuries, alleviating lower back problems and improving overall athletic performance.

Stomach crunches are not the most efficient way to leaner abdominals. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) sponsored research conducted by Peter Francis, Ph.D. at San Diego State University on 13 of the most common abdominal exercises. The top ranked abdominal exercise was the bicycle maneuver, which requires no equipment. The second top ranked exercise was the captain´┐Żs chair that does need special equipment (Francis cited in ACE, 2001).

According to ACE (, this is how to do the bicycle maneuver (Anders, 2001):

Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise.


Dr. Francis recommends a five-minute exercise session daily using several of the top rated exercises. If one exercise is uncomfortable, then try others. The San Diego State University/ACE Abdominal Study results are below.


RECTUS ABDOMINUS ("six-pack"): For strengthening the rectus abdominus, the 13 exercises were ranked most to least effective (

1. Bicycle maneuver

2. Captain's chair

3. Crunches on 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

OBLIQUES ("love-handles"): For strengthening the obliques, the 13 exercises were ranked most to least effective (

1. Captain's chair

2. Bicycle maneuver

3. Reverse crunch

4. Hover

5. Vertical leg crunch

6. Crunch on exercise ball

7. Torso Track

8. Crunch with heel push

9. Long arm crunch

10. Ab Roller

11. Traditional crunch

12. Exercise tubing pull

13. Ab Rocker

For more information, see