Training your abdominal muscles does not mean having to do hundreds of reps of the traditional crunch. Instead, break up your routine with a variety of moves for the various muscles in your midsection. This move is for the transverses abdominis, the deeply buried ab muscle that is not seen on the surface but is responsible for stabilizing your back and pelvis all day while you sit, stand and walk. When learning this exercise, be sure to move your legs only a few inches downward, until you have developed the necessary strength in your abdominals to go further.
1 Lie face up on a mat or a level padded surface. Bend your arms and position them on the floor with your elbows at shoulder height. Stretch both legs directly above your hips, keep your knees straight with the soles of your feet facing the ceiling. Inhale, then exhale and press your navel to your spine.
2 Keep your abdominals contracted and slowly lower both legs toward the floor with your heels reaching away from your hips. Do not allow your back to arch up away from the floor. Pause for two seconds with your legs no lower than 45 degrees from the floor, abdominals pulled in. Slowly lift your legs to the start position and repeat eight to 12 times. Bend your knees into your chest and rest a few seconds at the completion of the exercise.
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-- Karen Voight