Target: the abdominal muscles
Fancy names: rectus abdominis
, external obliques
, and internal obliques
Strong abdominal muscles do more than make you feel sexy in a bathing suit. They stabilize your entire body and help you keep your balance. Without abdominal muscles, you couldn't twist at the waist, bend over, or stand up straight. Figure skaters, kickboxers, and triathletes will all tell you that abs are the center of any strength training
We don't mean to disappoint you, but you can do 1,000 crunches a day and still not have abs that are as flat and tight as a drum. Genetics
and diet play a huge role in physical differences among people (not to mention stage lighting and flattering photography!). Many girls naturally have a slightly rounded belly. Keep on crunching, though, and you'll soon have abs you can be proud of!
Equipment needed: exercise mat or thick towel back to top
How do I do crunches?
- Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart.
- Put your hands behind your head, and support it lightly with your fingers. Look up at the ceiling, not between your knees, and keep your elbows pointed out toward the sides. If you're doing it right, you shouldn't be able to see your elbows.
- Pull in your lower belly toward the floor. Try to hold it in throughout the entire exercise.
- Lift your upper body using your abdominal muscles. Your lower back should stay on the floor. It's not about how high you lift your body; it's about keeping the effort in your abs. Don't pull your head up with your hands.
- Ease your body back down toward the floor. Your shoulders should never come more than about two inches off the floor. This is a very small movement!
Start with two sets of 15 crunches with a five-minute rest in between. back to top
- To keep from straining your neck, pretend that you are holding an orange between your chest and your chin.
Don't pull your head up with your hands.
Do keep your arms parallel with the ceiling. You shouldn't be able to see your elbows while doing this exercise.
Don't hold your breath.
Do exhale as you curl up and inhale as you curl down. back to top