Cut Out Those Crunches

Advanced Routine
    Advanced Spinal Lift (3 to 5 reps)

This teaches your abs and lower back to work in sync with each other while adding an element of intensity to the Spinal Lift from the intermediate routine.
  1. Sit up tall with your left leg bent and your left foot flat on the floor. Extend your right leg up and out so that your right knee is level with your left knee. Relax your shoulders and extend your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing in toward each other. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine.
  2. Lean a small way back then lift up tall, reaching your fingertips upward toward your extended right foot. Hold a moment before moving into the next rep. Don't let your leg drop downward, and keep it as straight and long as possible. Do an equal number of reps with your left leg extended. 

    Rewind (3 to 5 reps)

This exercise is an advanced version of The Hinge from the beginner routine. It uses your abdominal and lower back muscles to promote 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. Relax your shoulders and extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine.
  2. Lower your body an inch or so toward the floor by rounding your back and pulling your abs in even more. Hold a moment and then lower an inch or so closer to the floor. Continue lowering in this way until your head touches the floor. Hold underneath your thighs and gently assist yourself back up into the sitting position. Don't allow your feet to come up off the floor at any point.

    Hundred (100 reps)

This Pilates exercise is a deceptively simple yet very intense overall abdominal exercise.
  1. Lie on your back with your abs pulled inward. Extend your arms down your sides, parallel to your body. Hold them a few inches off the floor. Relax your shoulders and lift your legs off the floor, bending your knees slightly toward your chest. Lift your head up and tuck your chin to your chest so that you're looking directly at your navel.
  2. Straighten your legs and lower them as far as you can toward the floor while still maintaining contact between your lower back and the floor. Go no lower than a 45-degree angle to the floor. 
  3. Keeping your arms long and extended, pump them vigorously up and down about an inch 100 times. Inhale every five pumps; exhale every five pumps. Once you have completed the 100 pumps, bend your knees into your chest to finish.

    Ab Circles (3 to 5 reps)
    This exercise works your middle three-dimensionally with a special emphasis on your obliques.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head but don't lace your fingers together. Round your elbows outward, tuck your chin slightly, and pull your abdominals in toward your spine. Lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor and hold.
  2. Make a small clockwise circle with your waist: bend a small distance to the left, curl a small distance upward, bend a small distance to the right, and then lower a small distance downward. This is one repetition. Do an equal number of reps in a counter clockwise direction.

    Suspended Hover (3 to 5 reps)

This is a very intense version of the Hover in the beginner's routine. It works your abs (and your arms!) even harder.
  1. Assume the raised pushup position by balancing on your palms and underside of toes. Pull your abs in so that your entire torso is in a straight line. Tuck your chin toward your chest.
  2. Bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and hold 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.

    Swimming (8 to 15 reps each side)

This exercise strengthens and lengthens your lower back.
  1. Lie on your stomach with your abs pulled up and in toward your spine and your hipbones in firm contact with the floor. Stretch your arms out along the floor in front of you, directly in line with your shoulders, and extend both your legs straight out behind you in line with your hips.
  2. Lift your right arm and left leg 1 to 2 inches off the floor. As you lower them to the floor, lift your left arm and right leg up. Continue this lifting and lowering as if you are swimming through the ocean. Don't stop until you have completed all reps.
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