As a personal trainer and a gym rat, I have tried a ton of different exercises; some that work great and some not so great. Although I have some general weight lifting exercises and guidelines on my fitness page, I thought I would start sharing some of the exercises that I like and that are working well for me at that particular time.
I’m going to start with abs as it is one of the most popular muscle groups. The entire ab workout below consists of small engaged movements where form is key. I had issues coming up with images that depicted the exercise perfectly, so please be sure to read the description below each.
This exercise is meant to be done on the extension bench shown to the right. You will want to place your hip on the cushion of the bench putting one leg on top of the other. The key here is that your body must be completely straight. You don’t want to extend downward.
The movement – start with your body completely straight being sure that you keep your top knee locked the entire time. Lift your body using your side muscle up to 45 degrees then back down to a straight position. Start with trying to do three sets of 12-15 and move to 20-25 over time.
The movement – start with your body completely straight but with your body shifted slightly so that your obliques are facing upward. Lift your body with your oblique muscles only to 45 degrees then back down to a straight position. Start with trying to do three sets of 10-12 and move to 15-20 over time.
*Be sure that you are engaging your obliques only and not using your side muscles. If you feel it more in your side, shift your abs upward a bit more.
The movement – start with the bench at a 45 degree angle. Put your knees around the top cushion (not the front like pictured above) and your feet locked into the lower cushion. Position your body at a 45 degree angle with arms straight forward and your back straight. Crunch up reaching your hands outward with your elbows touching your knees. Roll back down to a flat back at a 45 degree angle and start again. Start with trying to do three sets of 15-20 and move to 20-25 over time.
* If your sit up bench has your feet out in from of you, your goal should be to reach out and touch your toes with each crunch.
The movement – start in the position depicted in the image above except that you’ll want to start with your hands about 6-8 inches down from your toes. Curl up to touch your toes and roll back down 6-8 inches. Be sure that you are using your upper ab muscles only to pull yourself up. It may take constant thought for the first few times. Start with trying to do three sets of 10-12 and move to 15-20 over time.
* If you are not flexible enough to get into this position, simply cross your legs in a slight indian style on the wall and reach up on the wall above your toes.
This exercise will work your lower abs like never before. It is actually part of the original 300 workout. You can hold just as much weight as you deem possible for your strength level. This could mean using a weightlifting bar with weights, a weightlifting bar without weights, a small pre-weighted bar or even dumbbells.
The movement – start with your weight held directly above your chest. Put your legs in the position shown in the picture above. From there you are literally making a “V” motion with your legs. The point of the “V” will be just above the floor (stop just before your feet touch the floor) and you will swing up to the other side. Start with trying to do three sets of 10-12 double count and move to 15-20 double count over time.