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1. Vertical Leg Crunches

Starting Position:

• Begin by back on a mat.

• Bend at the hips and place feet high in the air.

• There should be a slight bend at the knees.

• Everyone will have variations in flexibility so just raise hips as high as you

• Place arms straight and out in front of you.

• Elevate upper body so that shoulders come off the mat.

Upward Phase:

• Try to reach your feet with your hands.

• Your upper back should come further off the mat.

• Do not swing up to try and reach your legs, just get as close as possible.

• Breathe out as you rise.

• Keep abdominals contracted throughout movement.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly control the movement back to just before your shoulders touch the

• Keep abdominals contracted.

• Breathe in as you lower back down.

• Repeat until desired repetitions are performed.

2. Crunches

Starting Position:

• Lay back on a mat with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

• Keep feet flat on the ground throughout exercise.

• Place arms in front of the chest crossed.

Upward Phase:

• Slowly curl our trunk up as you contract your abdominals.

• Do not use momentum to crunch up.

• Breathe out as you crunch up.

• Try to touch your elbows to your knees and pause for a second.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly control the motion backward.

• Your abs should still be contracted.

• Stop just short of your shoulder blades touching the mat.

• Repeat until desired repetitions are performed.


• You can make this exercise more challenging by placing your hands behind
  the head in the “relaxed position”.

• To make it even harder try stick your arms straight back without a bend at
  the elbows.

• The entire crunch exercise is really only a few inches and not meant to be a
  big movement.

• To really work those abdominals, breathe all the air out on the way up and
  pause and contract before lowering your body.

3. Sit-Ups

Starting Position:

• Begin by placing your legs under something sturdy while sitting.

• This can be anything but for this example, dumbbells are used.

• Use heavy enough dumbbells to support your weight.

• Place feet underneath the dumbbell bars so that the bars are perpendicular
  to your pointed straight feet.

• Once secure, lay back so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees.

• Place arms crossed in front of the chest.

Upward Phase:

• While keeping your back slightly arched (not rounded!) raise your body up to
  your thighs

• Breathe out as you come up while contracting your abs.

• Movement is complete once you cannot sit up anymore from your thighs or if
  you back begins to round.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly control the motion backwards.

• Abdominals should be contracted the entire time.

• Do not round back as you come down.

• Stop just before your shoulder blades touch the mat.

• Breathe in as you descend.

• Repeat exercise until the desired repetitions are completed.


• Make the exercise harder by placing your hands behind the head (Don’t
  support your head with the hands).

• Get creative with the supports for your feet. You can tuck them under a door
  or have a friend place their knees on your feet.

• If you really want a challenge, hold some weights to your chest as you
  perform this exercise.

4. Alternating Leg Lifts

Starting Position:

• Lay back on a mat with arms at the sides and hands flat.

• Raise head and shoulders off mat.

• Contract abdominals and lift legs approximately 6 inches off mat.

Upward Phase:

• Begin alternately raising one leg while lowering the other.

• The lowered leg should not contact the mat.

• Hands should not come off mat.

• Try not to use momentum from the rest of your body although slight
  movement will and should occur.

• Keep abdominals tightened throughout.

Downward Phase:

• Now let your legs switch roles as the other rises this time.

• Keep abdominals contracted.

• Try to keep your shoulder blades off the floor as best you can.


• If you want to make this exercise more challenging try adding ankle weights.

• As you get better at this exercise you will be able to raise your trunk higher
  into the air while holding.

5. Alternating Leg Tucks

Starting Position:

• Begin by getting into the plank position: Body in a straight line, toes
  pointed on mat, knees straight, arms straight, and hands flat on mat.

Upward Phase:

• Slowly bend one leg at the knee up to the chest.

• Keep abdominals contracted throughout motion.

• Breathe out as you bend leg.

• Movement is complete once you reach your chest or cannot flex your leg up
  any farther.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly control the motion back to the starting position.

• Repeat with other leg in an alternating fashion.

• Be sure to stabilize with toes on mat before raising the other leg up.

• Don’t simply throw legs backwards; control the backwards motion of each


• Try the “Mountain Climber” variation where one leg is bent towards the chest
  while the other leg is simultaneously behind extended back. (In contrast to
  one leg at a time motion)

6. Swiss Ball Crunches


There are many variations of crunches that can be done on the Swiss ball. The most common crunch will be explained here.

Starting Position:

• Get a Swiss ball that matches your height. Do this by making sure ball is at
  knee level on the floor.

• Sit on the ball and make sure feet are at least shoulder width.

• Lay back so your shoulder blades are not contacting the ball.

• Place hands crossed in front of the chest.

• Head and neck should remain tucked and in line with your trunk.

Upward Position:

• Begin to crunch forwards as you try to touch your knees with your elbows.

• Knees should remain stationary and only as a target for your elbows.

• Do not allow knees to flare in or out.

• Breathe out as you contract your abdominals.

• Do not bounce off ball in attempt to reach further.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly control your trunk back down to the starting position by extending
  your spine.

• Do not allow your upper back to rest on the ball.

• Don’t bounce backwards.

• Breathe out as you return to the starting position.


• Try making the exercise harder by having a more narrow foot stance.

• Make the exercise easier by having a wider stance.

• Place your arms behind your head, straight back in line with your body, or
  holding weights to make this exercise challenging.

7. Cable Crunches

Starting Position:

• Set a cable tower pulley with rope attachment approximately at the middle

• Grasp rope with a neutral grip (palms toward each other).

• Kneel down with the rope in hand and back up until you feel resistance.

• Knees should be about shoulder width apart.

• Flex trunk forward so that you are gripping the rope behind the head.

• Feel free to rest body weight on legs if comfortable.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly contract the abdominals as you crunch in a down and inward direction.

• Contract your abdominals prior to moving to facilitate the initiation with your

• Do not extend your elbows in an effort to help move the weight.

• Don’t press your hands on your head to help press the weight downward.

• Movement is complete once you reach your thighs or cannot flex any further
  at the trunk.

Upward Phase:

• Slowly control the motion back to approximately a 45 degree angle.

• This is the point when you will start to lose tension in your abdominals.

• Do not let weight heave you backwards as this can result in injury.


• Try kneeling further away than usual to make the exercise harder.

• If you have sensitive knees it is recommended that you use a mat or
  something comfortable underneath your knees.

8. Swiss Ball Walkouts (with side twist)

Starting Position:

• Begin by selecting the appropriate sized Swiss ball for your height.

• Do this by standing next to the ball. It should at knee level.

• Slowly lay forward on the ball with your stomach in contact with the ball.

Upward Position:

• You should slowly roll from your chest, to your stomach, to your legs over
  the ball.

• Walkout past the ball on your arms to assist in rolling up over the ball.

• Your arms should be straight and hands flat on the ground supporting you.

• Legs should be entirely straight.

• Head and neck should be in line with your body.

• Only your feet should be in contact with the ball at this point.

• Now twist to one side, pause, twist to the other side, and pause.

• Twist until you feel tightness on the sides of your ribcage.

• After both twists, come back to the center.

Downward Phase:

• Slowly walk your hands backward as your body rolls back over the ball.

• Roll from your legs, to your hips, to your chest.

• Do not roll off the ball sideways as injury may occur (and incomplete

• Once ball is under your chest, bend at the knees and plant your feet in the
  ground to push off of.

• Press on the ground with your extended arms for support. Do not use ball.

• Caution: Do not put pressure on the ball because if it rolls over, you will fall.


• Remember when you roll on ball your head will be about 4-5feet in front of
  where you were originally. Plan your exercise space accordingly.

• There are many variations of this exercise and should be experimented with!

• You can avoid the twist altogether or substitute the twist for alternating arm
  raises out in front of you.

• Try also using one leg for support at a time on the ball for a more advanced

Exercise Guide

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Continue to learn more about how to exercise in the Exercise Guide.

Abs Exercises:
(In order of appearance)

1. Vertical Leg Crunches
2. Standard Crunches
3. Sit-Ups
4. Alternating Leg Lifts
5. Alternating Leg Tucks
6. Swiss Ball Crunches
7. Cable Crunches
8. Swiss Ball Walkouts