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Are Crunches, pushups, situps and butt lifts the best workout moves?

by
author image Michelle Powell-Smith
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.
Are Crunches, pushups, situps and butt lifts the best workout moves?
Crunches can help you get toned abdominal muscles. Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Strength training should be a part of your workout routine at least two times a week, recommends the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Classic calisthenic and toning moves like situps, pushups and crunches can meet this requirement without expensive equipment or a trip to the gym. These exercises won't make you slender, but can tone your muscles, improve your strength and provide muscle definition.

Situps

The classic situp is an exercise most of us remember from gym class. Situps improve core strength and work the abdominal muscles and hip flexors. The traditional situp places you on your back, knees bent and hands clasped behind your head. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your upper body to a full sitting position. If you suffer from weak hip flexors, your lumbar spine could hyper-extend during the situp; so anchor your feet before performing any variation of the situp.

Crunches

Crunches are one of the most effective abdominal exercises. Simple variations on the classic crunch, including oblique crunches or reverse crunches, can allow you to work all parts of the abdominal muscles. Intensify your crunches by using a stability ball to work your core muscles more effectively. Sit on a stability ball and then walk your feet forward until your spine is fully on the ball. Cup your hands behind your head and fully extend your elbows out to the sides. Tuck your chin into your chest, exhale and and curl your upper body toward your thighs until your back is off the ball. Inhale and return to your starting position.

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Pushups

Pushups work the chest, shoulders, upper back and arms. The classic pushup supports your weight on your toes and palms, with the body in a straight, even line. Variations include knees and palms, pushups done with a closed fist, or pushing off a counter top or other stable surface. Start with supported pushups, working your way toward traditional floor pushups. As you age, pushups can help you to support your body in case of a fall and remain a good test of strength and fitness. Wall pushups are perfect for a beginner. Lay your hands flat against a wall at shoulder height. Walk back until your arms are fully extended. Turn your wrists so that your fingers are pointing toward each other. Inhale, and bending your elbows slowly lower toward the wall. Exhale and push back up to standing.

Butt Lifts

Lift and tone your glutes with butt lifts. Butt lifts combine a kick and squat. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and lower into a traditional squat, then kick one leg back, extending your arms forward for balance. Return to your starting posture and repeat. Other butt lifting exercises include classic lunges, simple squats, and plies.

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