You don’t need lots of expensive equipment to develop and strengthen your abs. You don't even need to visit a gym every week to develop your very own "six-pack." Your own body weight and resistance, along with knowledge about correct form, is all you need to carve abs of steel. Get ready to crunch and bend with four simple exercises that target your abdominal muscles, which are otherwise known as your rectus abdominis.
Introducing the Sit-up/Crunch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be 12 to 18 inches away from your butt. Place your hands behind your head, bring your shoulder blades together and your elbows back. Don’t arch your back or stick your ribs out, and make sure your head and spine are aligned. Hold in your stomach, breathe out and curl your head and shoulders up from the floor. Keep your neck relaxed and chin up. Hold this position for two seconds, making sure that your lower back stays in contact with the floor. While breathing in gently, slowly lower your head and shoulders back to the floor. Maintain controlled movements at all times and don’t move too fast.
Moving on with the Crunch-up
Lie on your back with your legs extended toward the ceiling, the knees slightly bent, the feet together and toes pointing toward your head. Lift your arms up straight in front of you, fingers outstretched and thumbs almost touching. Breathe out, tighten your abs and curl your head and shoulders up, bringing your elbows and knees as close together as possible. Make sure to keep your head and spine in alignment while keeping your chin up. Perform the movement in a slow and controlled way, counting two seconds as you bring yourself up and counting two seconds as you return to the starting position. Breathe in gently on the way down.
Advancing to the Jack-knife Sit-up
Lie on the floor with your hands at your sides. While breathing out, hold in your abs and bend your knees into your chest as you bend at the waist to raise your torso. Keep your hands at your sides with your arms straight. Keep your head and spine aligned, chin up. Keep the movement slow and controlled, rising for a count of two seconds and then lowering for another count of two seconds while you gently breathe in.
Bending Into the V-ups
Lie on the floor with your hands above your head and legs placed slightly apart. Breath out as you pull in your abs and bend at the waist, raising your torso and legs at the same time to bring your hands and feet together. Touch your hands to your feet, keeping your movement controlled for a count of one second. Hold the V position for a further second, and while breathing in gently, return to the starting position. Keep your knees straight during the movement and keep your head aligned with your spine. Keep your movements slow and controlled, and don't jerk your body.
Reps, Doctors and Instructors
Aim for eight to 10 reps per set and do three sets per exercise. Increase reps when you need more of a challenge. Rest for one minute in between each set, and rest for two minutes in between each exercise. Perform the exercises on alternate days to give your body a chance to rest and recover. Always consult your doctor before embarking on any challenging physical exercise routines. Seek out the guidance of a qualified instructor to ensure proper technique. Remember that you won't see any visible results if your abs are covered by a layer of fat. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and perform cardio exercise every week to lose any excess fat.