To Your Health
August, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 08)
Repeat this exercise using your left hand and left knee. Keep your arm straight and avoid bending more than 90 degrees at your hip.
2. Opposite Hand on Opposite Knee: Push your right hand against your left knee while pulling your knee toward your hand.
You'll be pushing and pulling across the center of your body. Repeat this exercise using your other hand and leg. Hold for three deep breaths and return to the start position.
3. Hand on Outside of Knee: Raise your left leg off the floor so your knee and hip are bent at 90-degree angles. Place your left hand along the outside of your left knee. Use your hand to push your leg inward. At the same time, create resistance by pushing your knee away from the center. Keep the back flat. Repeat using your other hand and leg.
4. Opposite Hands on Opposite Knees: Place each hand on the opposite knee, toward the inside of each knee. Your arms will cross over each other. Push your hands against your knees and create resistance by pulling your knees in toward your hands. Hold and repeat.
5. Hands on Outside of Knees (right hand/right knee): Use your hands to push your legs in toward the center of your body. At the same time, create resistance by pushing your knees out. Hold and repeat.
6. Plank: Lie on your stomach. Raise yourself up so you're resting on your forearms and your knees. Keep your head and back in line and imagine your back as a tabletop. Align your shoulders directly above your elbows. Squeeze your core muscles. Create resistance by pressing your elbows and your knees toward one another. Neither should move from their positions on the floor. Hold for three deep breaths, then return to the start position and repeat.
Intermediate Ab Routine
Perform this routine three days a week at the end of your regular workout or as a stand-alone workout. Build up to 20 repetitions of each exercise in the order shown (except the side plank - perform two reps with holding times of 30 seconds per side). Complete the routine as a circuit, doing one set of each movement in succession and without resting. Once that feels easy, rest 60-90 seconds after doing one complete circuit; then do the circuit again.
1. Classic Curl: Hold a weight plate or medicine ball across your chest as you lie on your back on a stability ball. Spread your feet wide, with your neck, torso and thighs parallel to the floor, and crunch. Your goal is to gain strength to resist unwanted twists, so you should feel it throughout the abs.
2. Side Planks: These challenge your stability and work the muscles along the side of your body. Starting on your left side, raise yourself onto your left forearm. Tighten your core muscles to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in alignment. Align your left shoulder directly above your left elbow. Rest your right arm along the side of your body. Hold this position for three deep breaths before relaxing. Repeat this exercise on your right side.
3. Sprinter Sit-Up: Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. As you sit up, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee toward your right elbow while you swing your left arm back. Lower your body to the starting position, and repeat to your right. That's one repetition.
4. Straight-Leg Lifts: This exercise targets the lower abs. Lie on your back with your legs raised directly over your hips. Your knees should be slightly bent. Place your hands at your sides with the palms down. Use your lower abs to raise your hips off the floor and toward your rib cage, elevating your feet straight up to the ceiling. Hold, then return to the starting position.
Advanced Ab Routine
Before trying this routine, make sure you have been successful with the beginner and intermediate ab routines (meaning those exercises generally feel easy to you). Perform the advanced routine at the end of your regular workout or as a stand-alone workout, three days a week. Build up to 20 repetitions of each exercise in the order shown (except the elevated side plank - perform two sets with 30-second holds). Complete the routine as a circuit, doing one set of each movement in succession and with a 30-60 second rest between each exercise. Once that feels easy, rest 60-90 seconds and do the circuit again.