These exercises concentrate on specific areas of the body. For
example, situps target the abdominal muscles, while push-ups concentrate mostly on the pectoral
muscles. Other examples, include jumping jacks, any floor exercises or gymnastics and leg lifts.
Step 1: Lie down flat on your back, with your hands under your lower back.
Step 2: Raise your legs a few inches off the floor, slowly. By lifting slowly, you do not gain
momentum from the upwards swinging. Also, the slower the legs are raising, the more work your
muscles must do, therefore giving you a better work-out. When raising your feet, raise them to a
point so that your feet form an angle of 30-45 degrees. Beginners may need to raise their feet to
form an angle of about 15-20 degrees.
Step 3: Lower your feet to the floor, without your heels touching the floor.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3.
A recommended set is to start with 20-30 repetitions. As you gain endurance and strength,
increase your repetitions by increments or 5 to 10.
Crunches: According to a recent study done by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), four of
the top-selling abdominal machines show "no significant differences in muscle activity for the
basic crunch, oblique crunch and reverse curl with the devices when compared to the same
exercises performed without them." (6/17/97, Washington Post)
Basic (Front) Crunch:
Step 1: Lie on your back (belly-side up) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Also, place your fingertips behind your ears, or cross your arms across your chest.
Step 2: Contract your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis up toward your knees.
Step 3: Raise your shoulders off the floor so that your head and the ground form an angle of
30-45 degrees. Note: Do not bend your back out of the normal posture (flat and slightly curved
inward,) as it may cause back injury.
Step 4: Lower your shoulders back to your resting position.
When your shoulders come down, one repetition has been completed. Beginners should begin
with 10-15 repetitions. As you gain strength and endurance, increase the number of repetitions
until you can easily do 50 repetitions. Once you can easily complete 50 repetitions or more, you
can add another set (series of repetitions, ie. 3 sets of 10 repetitions would be 30 crunches in all)
try the exercise at different angles.
Reverse Crunches: This exercise concentrates on the lower abdominals.
Step 1: Lie on your back, with your thighs vertical. Keep your feet as close to your pelvis as
Step 2: Move your knees toward your chest, just so that your hips are slightly raised off the
ground. Then, after a brief pause, return your knees and thighs to the original position.
When you return to the original position, one repetition has been completed. Note: going at a
slower pace will work your muscles best. Doing the movements in faster repetition is better for