Here are some advanced abdominal exercises to take those abs to the next level.

SIT-UPS

Don’t you think about getting up! We’re not done, yet. The next exercise is the sit-up. This exercise is one of the events in the Army Physical Fitness Test. If you’re not used to doing a sit-up, those muscles will need some developing. Your motion should be smooth, no jerking your body up. If you can’t go all the way up, start out by going as far as you can. You’re on your back with hands clasped behind your head and feet a little less than shoulder width apart with bent knees and feet on the ground. Curl your body up to the point where you have brought your body out of the range of exertion. When you’re out of the range of exertion and it becomes easy, then lower it back down in the starting position with the same smooth motion. That’s one repetition. Perform 10 to 50 reps per set. If you are having difficulties, use a slow count until you develop those muscles.

REACH FOR THE TOES

You’re on your back. Raise both your legs together as high as you can. With your arms extended, palms facing down and hands close together, reach for your toes and then back to the starting position with shoulders and back on the ground. If you can touch your toes, that’s great. If not, do the best you can and keep working and don’t give up. The muscles are still enjoying the benefit of being worked. Make sure you are raising the shoulders ever so slightly when reaching for your toes.

ALTERNATING ELBOW CRUNCH

Here’s another great abdominal exercise. We’ll call it the alternating elbow crunch. You’re on your back. Your hands are clasped behind your head. Your left leg is bent with the foot on the ground. Cross your right leg over your left knee. Take your left elbow and reach for your right knee and back down. That is one rep. Use a smooth motion. Don’t be concerned if you can’t reach your leg with your elbow. Do the best you can. Remember, by performing the exercise you are working those muscles even with a partial motion. Now switch off by crossing your left leg over your right knee, reach for your knee with your right elbow and do it again.

ATOMIC SIT-UPS

It’s time for atomic sit-ups. Yeah. That’s right! We’re going nuclear! Lay down on your back with legs extended and arms extended to your sides. The starting position is with legs six inches off the ground. Now pull your knees and your chest to the middle where you are in a position balanced on your butt. Your body is briefly in that jack-knifed position. As you move into this position, bend your elbows so that your hands are at your shoulders. Now lower your legs back out to the extended position six inches off the ground with your arms extended. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 40 reps per set.

Your Action Plan: Get to work on improving your abdominal strength by performing these exercises five to six days per week. If that’s too challenging, start out with three days per week.

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The author of this article is Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret., boot camp fitness instructor and personal trainer.

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