Earlier this week, I gave you strength-training exercises for the chest. As promised, today I am following up with a list of exercises that work another major muscle group of the frontal physique, the abdominals (rectus abdominis). I will describe many of them because they are not self-explanatory.
Reverse crunches - Lie on your back, hands resting on the floor at your sides. Keep your hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle with your feet off the floor. Contract your abs while lifting your knees toward your chest. Return your feet to the starting position, keeping them slightly off the floor. Repeat.
Bicycle crunches - Lying on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and your hands behind your ears, start bicycling. Bring your left knee toward your chest and twist your body while aiming your right armpit at your left knee. Then bring your right knee toward your chest and twist your body while aiming your left armpit toward your right knee. Continue this bicycling motion.
Machine crunches - There is a machine found at your local gym that is specifically geared for working the abdominals. Tuck your legs under the bar provided, grab the handles behind your head and contract your abs while pulling down on the handles and bringing your legs up towards your chest. Repeat.
Raised leg crunches - Lie flat on the floor, legs extended straight out and off of the floor. Bring your knees up together toward your chest while contracting your abs. Return your legs to the starting position. Repeat.
Cable crunches - This is an exercise performed in a gym. Kneel on the floor and grab the cables from above. Pull down on the cables while contracting your abs. Repeat.
Leg raises - I described leg raises in a previous post.
Bent-leg knee raises - Leg raises with knees bent. Just lightly touch the floor between reps.
V-ups - Lie on your back with your legs and arms extended. Contract your abs while trying to touch your toes. Be sure to keep your arms and legs straight. Repeat.
Choose a variety of exercises (about 3-5) from the above list so that you are working the abdominals effectively. Some exercises such as the "bicycle crunch" work both the lower and the upper abs, others focus more on one or the other. So be sure to mix up the exercises frequently.
Try starting out with 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps of the less difficult abdominal exercises such as crunches and 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of the more difficult abdominal exercises such as v-ups. Every other day, increase the number of reps until you've effectively exhausted your abs by the end of your routine.
Good luck getting great abs just in time for summer. The sooner you start (hay, it's only February 20th), the sooner you'll be in shape for the beach!
If you want any additional information about the abdominal exercises above, just reply to this post with your comment.