These exercises are broken down into four groups according to what is being trained here. You should select several exercises from each group and do those exercises on a regular basis. Feel free to substitute in some new exercises whenever you need a little variety, but try to maintain the same number of exercises from each of the four groups.
Group 1: CENTER ABS
Tips: Begin a pushup position but with your elbows on the ground and resting on your forearms. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Arch your back slightly out rather than keeping your back completely straight. Raise your glutes toward the ceiling, squeezing your abs tightly to close the distance between your ribcage and hips so you end up in a high bridge position. Lower back down slowly to your starting position. Repeat. Don't let your back sag downwards.
Crunch - Hands Overhead
Tips: This variation makes it tougher than regular crunches. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms overhead and cross your palms. Curl your upper body forward and bring your shoulder blades just off the floor. Keep your arms aligned with your head, neck and shoulder. Don't move them forward from that position! Slowly lower down after squeezing your abs tight!
Tips: Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground, or resting on a bench with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. If you are resting your feet on a bench, place them three to four inches apart and point your toes inward so they touch. Place your hands lightly on either side of your head keeping your elbows in. Don't lock your fingers behind your head! Push the small of your back down in the floor to isolate your ab muscles. Begin to roll your shoulders off the floor. Continue to push down as hard as you can with your lower back. Your shoulders should come up off the floor only about four inches, and your lower back should remain on the floor. Focus on slow, controlled movement - don't cheat yourself by using momentum!
Tips: Lie on the floor on your back. Place your arms straight back behind your head. Bend at the waist while raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position. Lower arms and legs back to the starting position. Keep your elbows and knees locked!
Tips: Lie on your back on the floor with your feet about should width apart. You may find it easier to put your feet under something to hold them down. Lift your upper body, bending at the waist, until you're sitting up vertically. Keep your arms at your sides, crossed in front of you, or behind your head, but do NOT attempt use your arms to pull yourself up. Do not raise your feet off of the ground. Smoothly lower your body back to the floor. Repeat.
Tips: Lie back on the floor and elevate your legs up into the air. Make sure you keep your lower back pressed flat into the ground. Exhale and crunch forward to touch your toes. (Touching any part of your foot will work!) Remember, don't pull your chin down towards your chest. Keep your head in a neutral position.
Tips: Like on the floor with your hands either crossed over your chest or behind your head. Bend your knees and hips to form right angles. Keep your lower legs parallel to the floor and your feet crossed. Lift your shoulder blades a few inches off the floor by curling up. Slowly return to the starting position after squeezing your abs.
Group 2: OBLIQUES – SIDE ABS
Tips: Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so your thighs are perpendicular and your lower legs are just above parallel to the floor. Curl up and bring your left elbow toward your right side while drawing your right knee in to meet it. It is like you are riding a bike. Alternate sides, continuing the motion back and forth. Remember, don't just flap your elbow across your body, actually rotate your shoulder across and squeeze your abs.
Alternate Heel Touchers
Tips: Works your obliques. In order to complete 1 repetition, each heel must be touched once. So, get into position, crunch over and touch your right heel once, then crunch over and touch your left heel once, and now you've completed 1 repetition. Lie down on the floor. Bend your knees and keep your feet 18-24 inches apart. Keep your arms straight down at your sides. Crunch forward and up about 3-4 inches. Remember to keep your lower back pressed flat against the ground. Keep your head in a neutral position. Alternate touching your right heel and then your left heel. Remember, touching each heel once is one rep!
Tips: Lie on your back and bend your knees about 60 degrees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands loosely behind your head. Curl up and bring your right elbow and shoulder across your body while bring your left knee in toward your left shoulder at the same time. Reach with your elbow and try to touch your knee. Do one side for all your reps, then switch to the other side. Try to bring your shoulder up towards your knee rather than just your elbow.
Tips: Works your side obliques. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent (placing your knees on the floor or resting on a bench). Place your left hand over your left ear. Roll your upper body up to the right until your left elbow touches your right knee. Concentrate on tensing the sides of your waist and holding contraction throughout the movement. Slowly lower to the starting position. After completing a full set of reps on the left side, switch to your right side and do the same thing.
Oblique Crunches - On The Floor
Tips: Lie on your left side with your legs on top of each other with your knees bent a little. Loosely cup your head with your right hand. Crunch up as high as you can go, keeping the movement in the lateral plane as much as possible to work the obliques. Do both sides.
Tips: Secure your feet either by placing them under something that won't move or by having a partner hold them. Start in the position shown above, leaning slightly back and clasping your hands in front of you. Moving only at the trunk, rotate to one side. At the end of your range of motion, quickly reverse the movement and rotate to the opposite side. Repeat in a rapid fashion for the full number of reps. You can also hold a weight or medicine ball to increase the difficulty.
Tips: Works your obliques and helps stabilize your spine. Lie on your side and support your body between your forearm and knee to your feet. Hold position for two to four seconds. Repeat on the other side. Build up to at least 60 seconds on each side of your body!
Tips: Works your obliques. Lying on your right side and keeping your left leg over your right one, place your right hand in a comfortable spot and clasp your left hand behind your head. Bring your torso and left leg toward each other as you pull with your obliques. Squeeze for a moment and return to the starting position. You can use ankle weights to make it tougher!
Group 3: LOWER ABS
Bent-Knee Hip Raise
Tips: This is like the Reverse Crunch but with a longer range of motion. Outstretch your hands to your sides with your knees bent at a 60 degree angle and your feet just off the floor. Using your lower abs, roll your pelvis backward to raise your hips off of the floor. Your knees will be over your chest. Squeeze your abs and then return to the starting position slowly. You can straighten your legs to make it harder or wear ankle weights.
Decline Reverse Crunch
Tips: Lie on your back on a decline bench and hold on to the top of the bench with both hands. Don't let your body slip down from this position. Hold your legs parallel to the floor using your abs to hold them there. Keep your knees and feet together. Slowly contract your abs, focusing on bring your pelvis up and in towards your chest Let your abs do the work! Slowly lower your pelvis to the starting position, keeping constant tension on the abs. Don't arch your back inwards while you are at the down position!
Flat Bench Leg Pull-In
Tips: Works your lower abs. Lie on a flat bench with your legs off the end. Place your hands under your butt with your palms down. Put your legs straight out. Bend your knees, pulling your upper thighs into your midsection. Return to the starting position. You can hold a dumbbell between your legs to make it harder.
Tips: Work the lower abs. Lie on the floor with your hands under your butt, your palms down, and your legs extended. Bend your knees and pull your upper thighs into your midsection. Return to the starting position. Concentrate on your lower abs. You can hold a dumbbell between your feet to make it harder.
Tips: Like on the floor on your back. Put your hands by your sides with your feet up and your thighs perpendicular to the floor. They should not go down lower than this during the movement. Using your lower abs, roll your pelvis backward to raise your hips off the floor. Your knees will now be over your chest. Return slowly to the starting position. You can use ankle weights to make it more difficult.
Tips: Start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Extend your legs fully with a slight bend in your knees. Lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor. Make small, rapid up and down scissor-like motions as you lift each leg to about 45 degrees into the air and lower your heel until it is about 2 - 3 inches off of the floor.
Group 4: BACK EXERCISES
Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)
Tips: Lie face down on a hyperextension bench, tucking your ankles securely under the footpads (or on the floor and under some secure object, or have someone hold your feet). Adjust the upper pad if possible so your upper thighs lie flat across the wide pad, leaving enough room for you to bend at the waist without any restriction. Start with your body in a straight line. Cross your arms in front of you or behind your head. You can also hold a weight for extra resistance. Slowly bend forward at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back FLAT. Do not round your back. Slowly raise your torso until your legs and upper body are in a straight line again. Do NOT arch your back past a straight line!
Tips: Lie face down on the floor with your arm stretched out directly overhead (like Superman flying, hence the name). Raise your arms, chest and legs off the floor and hold it there for 2 seconds and squeeze. Lower back to the ground and repeat. You can also do these one arm and leg at a time as follows: Raise your left arm and right leg into the air at the same time, also raising your chest slightly off the floor. Hold there for a second and squeeze the muscles of your lower back. Lower your limbs back to the ground then raise your right arm and left leg and hold for a second. You can push down with the hand that is on the ground to help raise your other arm and chest higher off the ground. This exercise, even though it only uses your limbs as resistance, provides an excellent way to strengthen the lower back muscles.
Tips: Mentioned in the discussion above as similar to the Superman exercise. Lie face down on the floor with your arm stretched out directly overhead (like Superman flying, hence the name). Raise your right arm, and left leg off the floor at the same time and hold it there for 2 seconds. Lower back to the ground and repeat. Do the same thing with the opposite arm/leg.