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Abs and Back

If your goal is to strengthen your abs, you don't just have to do crunches. In fact, there are a variety of other exercises.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed
An exercise ball, a barbell and a mat.

How To

  • Warm up with a few minutes of light cardio
  • Complete 3 sets of of each exercise below, resting for 20-30 seconds between sets
  • Keep body stabilized throughout the movement
  • Don't swing or use momentum
  • Take 4-6 seconds for each repetition
Bridge with Leg Lift
Lie face up on the floor, knees bent. Push body into a bridge position, supporting your weight on your feet and arms. Straighten one leg up, heel flexed and slowly lower leg out to the side a few inches without moving the rest of the body. Use the abs to stabilize your body and don't hold your breath. Complete 12 reps before switching sides.
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Balancing Ab Twist
Begin by lying on your side and push up so that your body is supported by right arm, feet stacked. Straighten left arm and balance for a moment, then sweep the left arm down and twist the body, turning it towards the floor while keeping the rest of the body in place. Squeeze the abs and hold for 2 seconds, then go back to starting position. Repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.  To modify, rest the bottom knee on the floor.
abtwist2.jpg (19496 bytes) abtwist1.jpg (12984 bytes)
Ball Rollouts
Place your arms on the ball, parallel to one another. Pulling your belly button towards your spine and tightening your torso, slowly roll forward until your chest touches the ball. Keeping form, slowly pull your body back using your arms and abdominals. Don't collapse as you roll forward.  Repeat for 12 reps.

ballroll1.jpg (120649 bytes)
Lie face up with lower back pressed to the floor. Cradle head in your hands, elbows out, and bend right knee, pulling it towards your chest while touching the knee with the opposite elbow. Begin a slow pedal motion by touching opposite elbow to opposite knee, alternating each side. Keep the abs pulled in (don't let them bulge out) and breath continuously.   Repeat for 12 reps (one rep is to the right and left).
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Hold a barbell or dumbbells in front of thighs, feet hip-width apart and abs pulled in. Tipping from the hips and keeping the weight close to your legs, lower the weight to mid-shin (or wherever is comfortable) while keeping the legs straight (but not locked). Lift back to starting position and make sure the abs are pulled tight throughout the movement.  Repeat for 12 reps.
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Back Extensions
Lie face down with hands either behind the back or lightly cradling the head. Lift upper body off the ground a few inches, keeping head and neck in alignment. For a challenge, lift feet off the ground keeping legs straight (knees don't have to be together), hold for 2-4 counts and lower. Repeat for 12 reps.
backextension1.jpg (14288 bytes)
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