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Great Abdominal Exercises

* All exercises below should be performed under the supervision of a certified personal trainer or fitness specialist to ensure correct form and execution.

Select 3-5 exercises for each session and a maximum of 30-40 repetitions per exercise. Follow a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for maximum results.


Always minimize the actions of your hip flexors while working your abs. Your hip flexors are very powerful muscles which assist in moving the trunk and legs. To avoid or minimize contracting your hip flexors, never anchor your feet under anything while performing abdominal exercises. Leave your legs and feet as relaxed as possible.
TONING WITH YOUR BODY WEIGHT
Bench Crunch with a Twist
  • Lie on the floor with the lower part of your legs propped on a step or chair. Relax your legs.
  • Place one thumb behind each ear so that your fingertips touch behind your head but aren't clasped.
  • Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor in one motion, exhaling as you lift.
  • With your shoulder blades off the floor, rotate your torso to the left, leading with your right shoulder.
  • Rotate back to the center, then to the right (leading with your left shoulder), then back to center and return to starting position.
  • As you lift and twist, contract your abdominals.
  • Strengthens rectus abdominus and obliques.

Combined Crunch
  • Lie on your back with your knees tucked directly over your hips at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keeping your back pressed against the floor, tilt your pelvis up toward your chest in a tiny, controlled movement.
  • With the pelvis lifted, bring your knees a few inches closer to your chest.
  • At the same time, raise your torso and keep your hands either lightly touching your head or palms down at your sides.
  • Contract the abdominals as you would in a standard crunch.
  • This is an advanced exercise. The movement is very small and control is critical.

Cradle Crunch
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet lifted off the floor, and ankles crossed.
  • Contract the abdominal muscles, allowing the head and shoulders to raise slightly. Do not lift the head and shoulder first - concentrate on contracting the abdominal muscles and the head and shoulders will naturally follow.
  • Hold the contraction while pulling the knees in toward the chest. You should feel this in the upper and lower abdominal regions.
  • Release the contraction and repeat.

Crunch Sit-Up
  • Lie face up on the floor with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head.
  • Contract your abdominals, raising your shoulders up off the floor. Keep your head in line with your spine - do not tuck your chin in to your chest. Move your shoulders and head up as one unit.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Your lower back should remain in contact with the ground throughout the exercise.

Knee Raise - Flat Bench
  • Sit on the end of a flat bench and support your body weight on your hands resting just behind you. Lean back slightly and straighten your legs out in front of you.
  • Bend your knees as you raise them towards your chest as far as possible.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Perform the exercise slowly.

Knee Raise - Hanging
  • Hang from a chinning bar with a palm down grip about shoulder width apart.
  • Bend the right knee as you raise the knee towards your right shoulder. Continue until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for one second and then lower your leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the left knee towards the left shoulder.
  • You can also perform this exercise by bending both knees and keeping them together as you raise them towards your chest until both thighs are parallel to the floor.

Knee Raise - Incline
  • Lie with your head at the top of an inclined sit up board.
  • Reach overhead with both hands and hold the board for support.
  • Bend and pull your knees slowly towards your chest, keeping your knees together.
  • Return to the starting position.
Knee Raise - Lying and Twisting
  • Lie face up on the floor with your legs straight and your hands behind your head.
  • Bend your right knee and raise your knee towards your left elbow, which you simultaneously move towards your right knee. The movement should twist the upper body to the right and the lower body to the left.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite extremities, alternating one side and then the other.

Knee Raise - Standing
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and with your arms resting at your side.
  • Bend and raise your right knee to your right shoulder as far as possible.
  • Return to starting position and repeat with opposite side.

Knee Raise - Standing and Twisting
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your hands behind your head.
  • Bend and raise your right knee towards your left elbow, which you simultaneously move towards your right knee. The movement should twist your upper body towards the right and your lower body towards the left.
  • Return to starting position and repeat with opposite extremities, alternating one side and then the other.

Knee-Up
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and pointed toward the ceiling, feet raised from the floor, and thighs at a 90-degree angle to your torso.
  • With your back relaxed, roll your pelvis without bringing your knees toward your head. Your knees should lift slightly, but be sure they lift up straight and not in toward the head.
  • This is a very small movement that helps to develop abdominal and lower-body awareness in beginners. Concentrate on the lower abdominal region when performing this exercise.

Lateral Crunch
  • Lie on your right side with both legs bent so your thighs are at a 90-degree angle to your body. Extend your right arm on the floor, straight overhead.
  • Place your left hand behind your head and point your elbow toward the ceiling.
  • Slowly lift your rib cage toward your hip. Do not pull your elbow down, and try not to press on the floor with the right arm. You may need to press with the right arm a bit at first, but concentrate on using the abdominals.
  • Do one set of reps and repeat on the other side.

Leg Raise - Flat Bench
  • Lie face up on a flat bench with your legs off the end of the bench.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks with your palms facing down.
  • Keeping your legs straight, raise your legs to a vertical position.
  • Slowly lower your legs until they are slightly above the floor.

Leg Raise - Flat Bench, Bent Knee
  • Lie face up on a flat bench with your legs off the end of the bench.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks with your palms facing down.
  • Keeping your knees bent, raise your legs until your thighs are in a vertical position.
  • Slowly lower your legs until they are slightly above the floor.

Leg Raise - Flat Bench, Alternating Bent Knee
  • Lie face up on a flat bench with your legs off the end of the bench.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks with your palms facing down.
  • Keeping one knee bent, raise one leg until your thigh is in a vertical position. Slowly lower your leg until it is slightly above the floor.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg, alternating one leg and then the other.

Leg Raise - Hanging
  • Hang from a chinning bar with your arms straight. Use an overhand grip about 24 inches apart.
  • Raise your legs with your knees bent until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • You can also perform this exercise by twisting your knees to either side, or by keeping your legs straight until they are parallel to the floor.

Leg Raise - Incline Board
  • Lie on an incline board face up with your head at the top.
  • Reach overhead with your hands and grasp the top of the board for support.
  • Keep your legs straight and raise them to a vertical position above your hips.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

Leg Raise - Incline, Alternating Bent Knee
  • Lie on an incline board face up with your head at the top.
  • Reach overhead and grasp the top of the board for support.
  • Bend your knees and raise one leg to a vertical position above your hips.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

Sit-Up - Incline Board
  • Lie face up on an incline board with your feet at the high end. Place your feet under the foot strap.
  • Bend your knees to a 45 degree angle and place both hands behind your head.
  • Raise your shoulders upward towards your knees as far as possible. Do not pull on the neck, use the abdominals.
  • Return to the starting position.

Sit-Up - Jack Knife
  • Lie on the floor with your arms extended fully behind your head and your legs straight.
  • Bend at the waist while raising your legs and arms straight up.
  • Continue until your arms and legs touch each other above your abdomen.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • This is an advnaced exercise.

Sit-Up - Knees in the Air
  • Lie on your back on the floor with your hips and knees bent and your feet up off the floor. Cross your feet at the ankles.
  • Place your hands behind your head, resting your head in your hands and keeping your chin up.
  • Contract the abdominal muscles and lift your torso toward your knees.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and return to the starting position.

Twisting Crunch - Knees in the Air
  • Lie on your back on the floor with your hips and knees bent and your thighs parallel to the floor. Cross your feet at the ankles.
  • Place your hands behind your head, resting your head in your hands and keeping your chin up.
  • Contract your abdominals and lift your torso as you twist your upper body toward your right knee. Do not pull with your elbow, use the abdominals.
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the opposite side, twisting toward your left knee.

TONING WITH RESISTANCE
Lower Ab Lifts
  • Secure ankle weights around your ankles.
  • Lie on your back on the floor with your legs in the air and your ankles crossed.
  • Contract your abdominals and lift your hips off the floor, raising your toes toward the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower your hips to the starting position and repeat.


TONING WITH FREE WEIGHTS
Most of the Abdominal Toning exercises can also be performed with free weights. You may hold a weight plate or dumbbell on your chest for additional resistance.

Plate Crunch
  • Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a weight plate or dumbbell on your chest and hold it by crossing your arms over it.
  • Contract your abdominals and lift your torso, keeping the chin up. Use the abdominals to lift the weight on your upper body.
  • Curl up and down slowly, concentrating on the contraction of the abdominal muscles.

Standing Trunk Bend
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and your palms resting at your sides.
  • Grasp a dumbbell in each hand (this exercise can also be performed with no weights) keeping your arms resting straight down at your sides.
  • Bend your trunk to the right as far as possible, keeping your body facing forward and both feet in contact with the floor.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the left side.

 

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