Abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups and crunches, are typically used to strengthen the core muscles. This type of exercise and core strengthening helps individuals obtain and maintain correct posture while also strengthening back muscles. These exercises are typically done in sets of three to five repetitions, three to four times a week and take about six weeks to show results. Always receive clearance from your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Abdominal Floor Crunches
Abdominal floor crunches, or sit-ups, work the upper and lower abdominal muscles. This exercise begins with you lying on your back on the floor with legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your neck for support only, do not pull on the neck during the exercise. Curl your body up, suing the abdominal muscles to pull your shoulders off the floor. Once your shoulders are lifted off the floor, lower yourself back to the starting position slowly. Maintain tension in your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise and repeat three to four times.
Abdominal Crunches with Exercise Ball
This exercise uses the same principles as the abdominal floor crunch with an exercise ball for added stability. Begin by rolling down the exercise ball until the small of your back is touching the ball. Your legs should be shoulder width apart. Place your head and neck on to the ball and cross your arms over your chest. You should be lying comfortably on the ball in a table top position. Use your abdominal muscles to curl your spine up in to the crunch position. Lower yourself back down to the starting position keeping tension on the abdominal muscles throughout the exercise. This version does require more stability and balance than the abdominal floor crunch.
Torso Twisting Sit-Ups
The side abdominal muscles, or external obliques, can be isolated using the torso twisting sit-up. Begin in a seated position with your arms at your sides for support. Your knees should be bent. Slowly twist your torso to one side, keeping your chest facing forward. Bend and straighten your legs, pulling your knees toward the side of your body. Repeat three to four times and switch sides. This exercise requires more balance and a strong back to be done properly.
The bicycle crunch is an abdominal exercise that works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles as well as the oblique, or side, abdominal muscles. Begin by lying on your back with your legs raised and knees bent to 90 degrees. Place your hands behind your neck or ears for support. Begin slowly moving your legs back and forth as if you are riding a bicycle. At the same time, crunch upward, lifting one shoulder blade off of the floor. You want to move the armpit as close to the opposite knee as possible during the crunch, repeating this motion on the opposite side. Continue this pattern for 10 repetitions and repeat as desired.