While it is always best to work your abs through a plethora of movements, if I had to choose one exercise to get an optimal ab workout, then the toe-to-bar is definitely my first choice. And guys, this does not include the half-assed Crossfit variation where momentum does most of the work. To really get the most out of this exercise, it is advised that you control your movement with your core and use your stomach muscles to complete the movement rather than by swinging your legs up. The toes-to-bar works every fibre of your core and builds strengthendurance and a killer six-pack to boot, the toe-to-bar exercise is without a doubt the best exercises for six pack abs. 


MUSCLE GROUPS USED TO PERFORM A TOE-TO-BAR


PRIMARY MUSCLES USED DURING TOE TO BAR EXERCISE:

  • Rectus abdominus (or your “six pack” muscles).
  • Iliopsoas (the flexors of the thigh at the hip joint) – These help bring your legs up to the bar. Plus your forearms get a major workout.

HELPER MUSCLES USED DURING TOE TO BAR EXERCISE:

  • Hip flexors – These muscles are in the upper leg part of your quadriceps that help bring your knees closer to your face.
  • Hip Adductors – These muscles help bring your knees in to the middle of your body.

STABILIZER MUSCLES USED DURING TOE TO BAR EXERCISE:

  • Core – These muscles keep the centre of your body stabilized from front to back.
  • Chest (minor and major).
  • Complete shoulder muscle (which include your rotator cuff and deltoid).
  • Lats and numerous other back muscles.

VARIATIONS OF THE TOES-TO-BAR

This move can be extremely difficult to do and is suggested for intermediate to advanced gym-goers. That is why we are going to explore exercise variations which will accommodate beginners, intermediates and the advanced.



HOW TO EXECUTE THE TOE TO BAR EXERCISE


BEGINNER TOE TO BAR:

Set an incline bench as you would for a typical incline leg raise. Lie on the bench face up and perform a typical leg raise, but now, to mimic the movement of a toe-to-bar, pull your knees in towards your chest, roll your spine and draw your feet over your head. Lower back down slowly and focus on keeping the tension on your abs.


INTERMEDIATE TOE TO BAR:

Hang from a pull up bar and perform a hanging leg raise with straight legs, but now, to mimic a full toes-to-bar, pull your knees in towards your chest, roll your spine and draw your feet up to shoulder height. Keep your head in throughout the movement. Lower back down slowly and focus on keeping the tension on your abs.


ADVANCED TOE TO BAR:

Hang from a pull up bar and with straight legs and then lift your legs up while rolling your spine and ‘swinging’ your toes toward towards the bar. Use your core to continue the movement until your toes touch the bar. Keep your head in throughout the movement. Then slowly return to starting position.



TOE TO BAR EXERCISE TIP:

For all three exercise variations, it is imperative that you use your core to help raise your legs up as you roll your spine. Do not swing or use momentum as this will shift the focus off of your abs and may result in injury. Concentrate on contracting your abs and performing the move slowly.



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