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J Athl Train. 1993 Summer; 28(2): 120, 122, 124, 126.
PMCID: PMC1317695

Electromyographic Analysis of Four Popular Abdominal Exercises

Andrew W. Piering, BS
Andrew W. Piering is
Alex P. Janowski, BS
Alex P. Janowski is
William B. Wehrenberg, PhD
William B. Wehrenberg is
Martin T. Moore, MS, ATC
Martin T. Moore is Member at Department of Athletics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53211.


This study was designed to evaluate the effects of four specific sit-up exercises on muscular activity of the rectus abdominis. Pairs of surface electrodes were placed unilaterally on four quadrants of the rectus abdominis, delimited by tendinous inscriptions, in four male subjects. Electromyographic (EMG) recordings were taken while the subjects performed four different abdominal exercises. Each abdominal exercise was hypothesized to have a specific effect on one of the four quadrants of the rectus abdominis. The four exercises analyzed were: 1) long lying crunch, 2) bent knee crunch, 3) leg raise, and 4) vertical leg crunch. Analysis of the standardized EMG recordings demonstrated no significant differences in the mean muscle activity between the four different quadrants, in the mean muscle activity between the four different exercises, and in interactions between the exercises and the quadrants of the rectus abdominis. We conclude that none of the four abdominal exercises studied are specific for strengthening individual muscle quadrants of the rectus abdominis.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association