Cut Out Those Crunches

Beginner Routine
   Camp Fire (3 to 5 reps)

This exercise promotes good posture and is an excellent spinal and middle muscle warm-up.
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance in front of you. Wrap your arms around the uppermost part of your shins with your hands clasped together or clasping your legs.
  2. Inhale deeply and sit up as tall as you possibly can with your belly button pulled in toward your spine. Concentrate on keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Hold for 10 slow counts and release for a moment before moving into the next rep.

    Upright Hinge (3 to 5 reps)

This exercise uses your abdominals and lower back muscles, and promotes balance, strength and good posture.
  1. Sit up tall on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance in front of you. Cross your arms and place your hands on your chest. Pull you your bellybutton in toward your spine.
  2. Keeping your back straight and your posture lifted up tall, lean back about six inches. Don't allow your feet to come up off the floor or your upper body to round inward. Hold this position for 10 slow counts and sit up again before moving into the next rep.

    Limited Hip Lift (8 to 15 reps)

Although this exercise is powered by the lower muscles, it is an excellent total ab exercise.
  1. Lie on your back and lift your legs toward the ceiling so they are perpendicular to your hips. Bend your legs slightly at your knees. Place your hands at your sides, keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed and down.
  2. Pull your belly button in toward your spine as you lift your buttocks a half-inch straight up off the floor. Don't allow your hips to roll back or your knees to move toward your chest as you lift. Hold a moment before slowly lowering to the floor.

    Pendulum (8 to 15 reps each side)

This is an excellent entry-level oblique exercise that tightens and strengthens your waist while stretching your lower back.
  1. Lie on your back and lift your legs toward the ceiling so they are perpendicular to your hips. Bend your legs slightly at your knees. Extend your arms out to the side, level with your shoulders.
  2. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and, keeping your legs together, drop your knees to the right. Once your thighs touch the floor lift them up again and drop them to the left. Continue until you have completed an equal number of reps to both sides.

    Elbow Hover (3 to 5 reps)

Don't be fooled: This simple exercise is a killer total ab and lower back move.
  1. Kneel down on the floor and lean forward, putting your forearms flat on the ground. Extend your legs behind you so you are balancing on your toes and forearms. Clasp your hands together and tuck your chin toward your chest. Pull your abs in tight so that your back is straight; make sure your lower back does not sag downward and don't hold your butt above the rest of your body.
  2. Hold this position for 10 slow counts. Focus on keeping your torso straight the entire time. To rest between reps, sit back on your heels and drape your body forward.

    Bird Dog (3 to 5 reps each side)

This is the perfect exercise to strengthen and stretch your lower back and align your spine.
  1. Get down on your hands and knees making sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly beneath your hips. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine and tuck your chin toward your chest.
  2. Extend your right arm forward at shoulder height as you extend your left leg back at hip height. Focus on staying as long and relaxed as you possibly can. Hold for 10 slow counts and then repeat the same move with your left arm and right leg. 

 

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