The Basic Crunch
Beginning with the upper abs, the basic crunch is a very effective exercise to work this muscle group. To do a basic crunch, lie on the floor with your knees bent at roughly 90 degrees and feet planted on the floor. Rest your hands behind your ears, elbows out, or rest them on your shoulders with your arms crossed. Tighten your abs and raise your shoulders off the floor and toward your knees. Be sure that your neck is not feeling strained and your feet are staying planted to the floor. Hold for one count, then lower back the floor, and repeat for up to 30 reps, depending on your fitness level. Rest for a couple minutes then repeat for a total of three to four sets.
If you have a large exercise ball at home and are looking for some variety, you can do the basic crunch by sitting on the ball, feet planted on the floor and knees at a 90 degree angle. Place your arms in the same position as before and lean back, keeping your back straight and feeling your abs start to work. Hold for three counts then slowly raise to the starting position. Repeat as before.
A pelvic tilt is a simple yet effective exercise to target those lower abdominal muscles. To do a pelvic tilt correctly, lie on the floor facing up and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle. Place your feet firmly on the floor about hips-distance apart. Lift your buttocks up from the floor and hold for two seconds, then lower your buttocks slowly back to the ground. Be sure your neck muscles are not strained during this exercise and that your lower abs are where you're feeling the burn. Repeat this motion for up to 30 reps, depending on your fitness level, then rest for a couple of minutes before repeating for a total of three to four sets.
The bicycle crunch is a good abdominal exercise because it works the upper and lower abs, as well as the obliques. Lie on the floor as if you are doing a basic crunch, with your hands behind your head. Lift the shoulders up off the floor, keeping the neck relaxed, and bring in one knee and the opposite elbow until they lightly touch, extending the other leg. Then switch, bringing in the extended leg and its opposite elbow, extending the first leg. Repeat this motion smoothly, similar to riding a bicycle, for up to 30 reps. Take a couple of minutes to rest, then repeat for up to four sets, depending on your fitness level.
Article Written By William Jackson
William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.