|Forget old-fashioned sit-ups that have you raising your body to an
upright position with your legs out straight! They strain the lower back
and do a lousy job of targeting the abdominal muscles.
Instead, master the abdominal curl, also known as the abdominal
crunch. No exercise is better for strengthening and toning the
abdominals, a group of muscles that held you stand erect and hold your
internal organs in place. What's more, a strong abdomen is one of your
greatest defenses against low back pain.
Abdominal curls are modified sit-ups in which you raise your
shoulders slightly off the ground while keeping your legs bent and your
feet flat on the floor. Below is a description of the basic curl and one
of its variations:
- Basic Curl -- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet
12 inches to 18 inches from the buttocks. Lightly clasp your hands
behind your head with your elbows wide open. Next, press your lower
back into the floor, and lift your upper back off the floor while
keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling. Be careful not to pull on
your neck. Then return slowly to the floor. Start with one set of 10
to 15 repetitions every other day. Try to add one or two repetitions
each week until you reach 40.
- Bench Curl -- Place your calves on a bench or chair to stabilize
your hips in a flexed position and to target the abdominals a little