The reasons a backpacker needs strong abdominal muscles may not be obvious until you strap 75 lbs. of gear on your back. The classic abdominal exercise, the sit-up, targets the upper abdominals and does little for the lower stomach muscles. You need to add a dedicated lower abdominal exercise for a complete abdominal workout.
Leg raises, according to AskTheTrainer.com, are "one of the most effective and highest intensity lower abdominals exercises if performed properly." Do leg raises at the gym: They require the platform with the padded armrests and grips. Stand in the platform with your forearms on the armrests, hold the grips and raise your legs until they reach a 90-degree angle with your torso. Add one set of 20 to 30 reps to your regular gym workout. The basic version of this exercise calls for keeping your legs straight. To make it easier, bend your knees. To make it harder, add ankle weights.
The corkscrew made MSN's list of "The Best Ab Exercises of All-Time." Lie on your back with your hands extended toward your legs, palms on the floor. Keeping your legs straight, raise them off the floor so your feet are above your hips. This is your base position. Use your lower abdominal muscles to pull your hips off the floor and toward your ribs, twisting to the right. Return to the base position, and then repeat the lower abdominal pull, this time twisting to the left. Repeat both the right and left motions for 10 to 15 reps.
David White, former proprietor of Washington, D.C.'s Downtown Boxing Club, described bicycle crunches as the best all-around abdominal exercise. Bicycle crunches are your best choice for working your lower abs and other stomach muscles all in the same exercise.
Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and your hands cupped behind your neck. Use your abdominal muscles to raise your left knee to meet your right elbow. Lower your leg back toward the floor, but not to the extent that you relax and place your foot on the floor. Now raise your right knee to meet your left elbow. That competes one repetition of the bicycle crunch. Do 50 reps for a complete set, working up to 100. This exercise requires no equipment and has the advantage of working the upper abs at the same time.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.