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    « 10 Killer Arm Exercises | Main | The site it is a changin'! »
    Friday
    Jun262009

    10 Ab-Sculpting Exercises

    We all want it - that lean midsection with an enviable 6 pack.  I'm still working on mine, and here are the exercises I'm using to get there:

    1. Your basic crunch - lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees.  Put both hands flat on your belly and contract your abs so that you're lifting your shoulders 3-4 inches off the floor.  Hold it for a second and relax.  Repeat this for 3 sets of 20 reps.
    2. Raised leg crunches - same as above, but rest your feet on a bench, chair, or exercise ball.  Feel the burn!
    3. Crossover crunches - from the same position as the basic crunch, put your right hand behind your head.  Without pulling on your neck, crunch until your right elbow touches your left knee.  It's optional if you want to raise your knee to meet your elbow halfway.  Do 20 reps per side for 3 sets.
    4. Bicycle crunches - similar to the crossover crunch, rather than starting with your feet on the floor, start with your feet about 18 inches from the floor.  At the start of the exercise, your body will basically be 'V' shaped.  With your hands behind your head, draw one knee back and bring the opposite elbow across to meet it.  Touch the two in the middle, return to the starting point and go again with the opposite elbow/knee.  Do 40 reps total (20 per side) for 3 sets.
    5. Seated leg raises - sit on the very edge of a flat weight bench or a chair.  Lean back slightly and grip the bench.  With your knees slightly bent, use your abs to draw your knees to your chest.  Contract the lower abs by curling your hips upward at the top of the motion.  Hold it there for a second, lower your legs to the starting point and repeat for 3 sets 20 reps.  A more difficult version of this exercise is to keep your legs straight while performing the motion.
    6. Rows - it's a combination between a situp and a leg raise.  Starting from a situp position on the floor, bring your knees toward your chest as you sit up.  Tighten your abs in the middle of the exercise.  Lower yourself to a near-flat position (without touching the floor with your knees or your back) and repeat for 20 reps.  Throughout this execise, the only part of your body that should touch the floor is your bottom.  3 sets of these with 1 minute rest between each set.
    7. Planks - you'll love these for their effectiveness.  Lay on your stomach as if you were getting ready to do a push up.  Instead of extending all the way into a pushup, rest on your elbows such that the only parts of your body that are touching the floor are your toes, elbows, and forearms.  Keep your body straight (i.e. don't bend at the hips up or down) and hold this position for 30-60 seconds.  Keep those abs tight the entire time!  Do 3 of these with 1 minute rest in between.
    8. Side Planks - similar to the regular plank, this exercise works the obliques.  Lay on your side and lift yourself into position.  For this exercise, the only parts of your body that should touch the floor are your elbow/forearm and the outside of one foot.  Repeat on left and right sides 3 times.
    9. Inverted Planks - Instead of facing the floor, you'll be looking at the ceiling with these.  Recline back until your forearms/elbows are on the floor.  Lift your hips until your body is perfectly flat.  Only your forearms and heels are touching the floor.  Hold this position for 30 - 60 seconds.  Do it 3 times.
    10. Hanging leg raises - This has become my favorite abdominal exercise.  You can hang from a pullup bar or any other sturdy structure.  I personally use hanging straps designed for this exercise in my gym.  While hanging by your hands from a well-supported structure, raise your unbent legs slightly higher than horizontal and slowly lower them back to the starting position.  12-15 of these for 3 sets should be enough to make you burn!

    TIP: Don't do ALL of these exercise in one workout!  Pick 2 or 3 and do them for a few weeks before changing to something different for a few weeks.

    See you on the beach!  Be well!!

     

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