Weak abdominal muscles affect posture, breathing, appearance, and athletic performance. A weak trunk can also lead to lower pack pain.
There are 4 main pairs of abdominal muscles which control forward bending, side bending, and trunk rotation. The exercises in this booklet are designed to strengthen these muscles without irritating your back or neck.
Perform each repetition at a slow, steady pace. Exhale as you come up and inhale as you lower down. Control the lowering portion of each repetition, as it is the more effective portion of the exercise. Try to maintain a forward pelvic tilt during each exercise.
Carefully follow the instructions and do only those exercises that have been recommended to you.
These abdominal exercises should not cause or increase pain, but may make you sore. If you experience any discomfort other than muscle soreness, decrease the height of your lift, or decrease the number of repetitions. Should pain persist, discontinue the exercise and your physician.
Exercise 1: Sit-ups
Starting Position: Lie on your back with your hips and knees comfortably bent and your an-knees folded across your chest (easier) or clasped behind your head (more difficult).
Beginner action: Tuck chin towards chest and slowly bring your shoulders halfway off the floor towards your knees. Slowly lower yourself down to the starting position.
Advanced action: As you come up, rotate your elbow to the opposite knee. Alternate right and left sides.
Exercise 2: Modified sit-ups
Starting position: Lie on your back with your hips and knees comfortably bent and your arms folded across your chest (easier) or clasped behind your head (more difficult).
Action: Keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling, raise your shoulders and chest 4-6 inches off the floor. Do NOT tuck your chin. Slowly return to the starting position.
Exercise 3. Advanced abdominal short arcs
Starting position: Lie on your back with your hips and knees comfortably bent and your arms folded across your chest (easier) or with your arms clasped behind your head (more difficult).
Action: Tuck your chin to your chest and sit all the way up, touching elbows to knees. Slowly lower half way down, without touching the floor. Now, go upwards again, touching elbows to knees.
Exercise 4: Chair sit-ups
Starting position: Lie on your back with your hips bent at a 90 degree angle and rest your legs on the seat of a chair. If you're not strong enough, have a partner hold your legs at the ankles for support or use a strap to stabilize your legs.
Action: With your hands folded across your chest (easier) or clasped behind your head (more difficult), slowly lift your neck and shoulders off the floor touching your elbows to your knees. Slowly return to the starting position.
Exercise 5: Side-ups
Starting position: Lie on your left side keeping your body and legs straight. Have a partner hold both legs just above the ankle. Place your right hand at your side. Fold your left hand across your chest (beginner) or clasp both hands behind your head (advanced).
Action: Slowly lift your head and left shoulder off the floor. Return to the starting position. Keep your hips perpendicular to the floor. Repeat the same exercise on the opposite side.
Exercise 6: Bilateral leg lift
Starting position: Lie flat on your back, legs fully extended and tuck your hands under your lower back. Keep your pelvis tilted up and back into the floor.
Action: Lift both legs off the floor approximately 8 inches and hold them there for 3-5 seconds. Lower both legs to the floor. Keep pelvis and lower back tilted into the floor at all times.
Exercise 7: Spiders
Starting position: Lie on your back and clasp your hands behind your head. Bend both knees and raise them towards your chest.
Action: Raise your neck and shoulders off the floor. Simultaneously move your right elbow and left knee towards each other while keeping your head, shoulders, and legs off the floor. Repeat with your left elbow and right knee. Never allow shoulders or legs to rest on the floor.
Exercise 8: Basket hang
Starting position: Hang from a chin-up bar with your elbows fully extended and your feet off the ground.
Beginner action:Tighten your abdominal muscles. Pull your knees up to your chest and hold for one second. Slowly lower your legs down.
Advanced action: Tighten your abdominal muscles. With legs fully extended, lift them straight out in front of you, and slowly lower them back down.