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Various situps and related exercises.

Description: Situps and variations

Motions trained:Torso flexion

Main muscles used: Abs
   Other muscles:

How to do it: A crunch occurs whenever you get your hips nearer your ribcage. Concentrate on doing that rather than anything else. The sequence outlined here runs through a whole slew of configurations in a short time. This gets everything from a bunch of angles. I normally just do them all at once, so I get endurance training as well as some strength. No, I don't do all of these every day, but this gives you a nice palette to draw from.

Your basic situp: Lay on the floor with your knees up. Having your knees down works the hip and stresses the back so don't do that, even though that is how it is usually shown in public schools. You can just put your hands behind your head, but a better way is to cradle the head so your neck doesn't hurt. Here's how:

Put your hands at your side Reach behind your head with, say your right arm
and touch your left shoulder.
Reach behind your head with the other arm and
touch your opposite shoulder. Your forearms
are now crossed and this makes a nice solid
cradle for your head.

Now we a re ready for the lower body. With the small of your back on the ground, try to get your ribs closer to your hips. You may vary the lower body placement using any of the following:

Knees together, legs down Repeat with legs up

Feet together, splay the knees Repeat with legs up

Cross, say, left leg over right, drop to your right side Repeat with feet off the floor (picture is of other to
show it from a different angle.)

Bicycles: Raise left knee to chest,
right leg straight and 2 inches off the
ground repeat with the legs reversed.

Legs up, bend 90 degrees at the waist Repeat with legs splayed in the chinese splits

Another variation that gets the lower abdominals are roll-ups.

Lie on the floor with your hands under your back
for support. Alternately, put a pair of dumbbells
above your head and grab those to anchor you.
Have your back flat against the ground.
Pull your lower body up, trying to keep your back
pressing into the ground at all times. You want to
keep your knees to your chest, almost like you are
trying to shove them up your nose. If you want, you
can tap the ground on either side of your head with
your toes. Don't roll up on the neck, but crunch your abs.

Reverse situps: Turn on your stomach. Touch the wall with your feet (helps to stabilize). Cross your arms under your head and lift your torso off the floor.

V-ups and n-ups: This description is for v-ups. Lay on your back with your arms straight over your head. They must stay in this position relative to your head throughout the motion. Raise your legs off the floor keeping them straight and try to fold up in the middle to touch your hands and feet. Don't cheat and swing your arms, but keep them straight over your head. You will look like a 'V' since unless you are strong and limber like a mutant you can't complete the movement. For 'n-ups' start in the same position and pull your knees to your chest as your pull your elbows down to meet them.

How to work up to it: If you have trouble doing this, a weight machine is order.

Ramping it up: You can make the v-ups and n-ups more explosive. Add weights to the other situps.

Do's and don'ts: Don't have your legs out straight on the regular situps, since that can stress your back. If you do them as indicated here you won't have any issues. Make sure you are lifting your shoulders off the floor rather than just sort of wiggling.

Comments: Why do we do so many situps and just a few reverse situps? Because the muscles in your lower back are stabilizers. They are to keep you in good posture rather than to lift heavy loads. What we are doing is plenty and enough to keep them strong. If you feel you have to build them up you can use an inverted situp bench, but I'll warn you now, you are unlikely to get all that much weight and are much more likely to end up overtraining and injuring these. Lower back injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from since it seems that everthing in your body attaches to them. If you really insist, you probably want to do