Medicine balls, plate weights, dumbbells, ankle weights and machines can all be used to perform weighted ab exercises. Simply adding one of these forms of external resistance to a standard abdominal exercise can give you a stronger, more defined abdomen. Whether or not weighted ab exercises are a good idea for you depends on your physical conditioning and fitness goals.
Increase Muscle Strength
Weighted ab exercises increase the strength of your abdominal muscles. Regular ab exercises strengthen these muscles but only to a certain extent; your strength gains will eventually plateau after continuously working with the same amount of body weight resistance. Adding external resistance to these exercises requires your muscles to work harder. The resulting adaptations lead to increases in strength. By periodically increasing the amount of weight you use, you can continue to experience strength gains.
About Muscular Hypertrophy
Along with an increase in muscular strength, weighted ab exercises can lead to an increase in muscular size, or hypertrophy. For hypertrophy to occur, the resistance that works against your abs must be large enough to impose a demand on them. In other words, the muscles must be overloaded. Body weight alone does not provide the resistance necessary to achieve this adaptation, so if you want to build the muscles in your midsection, weighted ab exercises are a necessity.
Get Faster Results
Although it is possible to get a defined midsection with unweighted ab exercises, weighted ab exercises yield results faster. For example, you may have to do 100 standard situps to elicit the same muscular fatigue experienced after only 25 weighted situps. Weighted ab exercises not only save you time but also can give you superior results.
Things to Consider
Although weighted ab exercises offer several benefits, they may not be for everyone. If you are already in relatively good physical condition and are looking for a way to further challenge your body, then weighted ab exercises would probably be a good thing to add to your workout routine. These exercises are also appropriate if you want to build muscle and get a more defined midsection. However, if you prefer a small, whittled abdomen, then weighted exercises may not be appropriate for you. Keep in mind that if you suffer from low-back pain or are in poor physical condition, weighted ab exercises can be counterproductive and even lead to injury. Take care to properly perform each exercise to avoid these negative effects, consulting a fitness coach if possible to check your technique.
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Third Edition"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer, Second Edition"; Nicki Anderson, et al.; 2007
- ShapeFit: Raised Knee Barbell Crunches for Six Pack Abs
- Digital Vision/Valueline/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.