Simple Abdominal Strength Training Exercises

Simple Abdominal Strength Training Exercises
Whether you're a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, everyone dreams of having abdominals, abs or a rippling six-pack. And for good reason, too. Abdominal strength (also called "core strength") is at the center of peak performance of almost every sport.
The abdominals are composed of hundreds of small muscles that interact with each other to keep the body erect while walking, twisting and turning the mid-section and for flexing at the waist. Unlike other parts of the body, abdominals can be developed using simple equipment, even things you have around the home.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Padded surface Fit ball (optional) Clock (optional)
  • Padded surface
  • Fit ball (optional)
  • Clock (optional)
Step 1
Lie on your back on a well-padded surface such as carpeting or an exercise mat. Wear loose clothing that allows your body to move without binding. Slide you feet toward your buttocks until the soles of your feet are flat on the floor and your knees form a 45 degree angle.
Step 2
Straighten your arms out in front of you, parallel to, but off of the floor. Slowly flex forward at the waist, running your finger tips along the top surface of your thighs. Flex as far as you can go and hold for 10 seconds. As you flex at the waist, exhale the air in your lungs. Inhale air on the way down while returning to the original position. As you curl up toward your knees, tuck your chin into your chest to avoid straining your neck. Repeat two to three sets of 15 to 25 sit-ups.
Step 3
Increase the resistance of your sit-ups by holding your hands at the side of your head. Avoid locking your fingers behind your head. Similar to the previous "hands to the knees" exercise, slowly flex forward at the waist while slightly rounding your back. Keep your elbows to the side and avoid "jerking" your head up while performing sit-ups. Instead, slowly flex forward until your shoulders leave the exercise mat. Repeat two to three sets of 15 to 25 sit-ups and increase to multiple sets.
Step 4
Perform abdominal "crunch" exercises by lying on your back with the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight, parallel to your body, several inches off of the floor. Slowly flex at the waist, bringing your knees toward your chest until your legs form a 30 degree angle to your chest. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 sets, 10 to 15 repetitions per set.
Step 5
"Bridging" is a more advanced exercise that strengthens your abdominals and lower back muscles. Lie flat on your back with your arms and hands at your side and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should form a 45 degree angle. While pressing down with the palms of your hands, slowly extend your abdominal muscles by pushing your pelvis up to the ceiling. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds before returning to the original position.
Step 6
Enhance your abdominals by adding "abdominal oblique" exercises. Oblique exercises develop the smaller muscles on the side of your torso that are partially responsible for rotating your upper body. Lay flat on the floor as if you were doing a basic sit-up. Lightly press your fingertips against the back of your head, while holding your elbows out to the sides. While flexing forward at the waist, rotate your torso and touch your right elbow to the top of your left knee. Hold for 10 seconds before returning to the original position. Repeat on the opposite side. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Step 7
For an added challenge, buy a "Fit Ball" from your local sporting goods store and incorporate its exercises into your standard routine. If you're tired of keeping count of sit-ups, try repeating the sit-ups for elapsed time.

Tips & Warnings

 
Start slowly, using "hands to the knees" or partial crunches. Gradually increase the number of sets and repetitions. For more resistance, hold a free weight disc across your chest.
 
Start slowly, using "hands to the knees" or partial crunches.
 
Gradually increase the number of sets and repetitions.
 
For more resistance, hold a free weight disc across your chest.
 
Never anchor your feet while performing any type of sit-up. Avoid "jerking" your head off of the floor or mat in the first phase of the sit-up.
 
Never anchor your feet while performing any type of sit-up.
 
Avoid "jerking" your head off of the floor or mat in the first phase of the sit-up.

Resources

Article Written By Allen Smith

Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.

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