Abdominal Exercises

Plank: Get down in to a pushup position with your forearms resting on the floor. Tighten your entire body and pull your abdominals in and hold them for the prescribed amount of time. Be sure not to let your hips sag down or rise up, instead maintain perfect posture. This is a great exercise for increasing core stability and teaching the abs and lower back to function as a unit. You should be able to hold this position for three minutes before moving on to any other abdominal exercises.

Straight Leg Sit Up- Lay down on the ground with your legs completely straight and have a partner hold your ankles. Hold a weight on your chest for added resistance. When beginning the exercise be sure to push your legs down into the ground and keep your knees locked. By using your abs and your hip flexors, lift your upper body up to a position perpendicular with the floor.

Swiss Ball Crunch: Lie face up on a Swiss Ball and allow your abs to stretch fully and let your shoulders round down all the way over the ball. Perform a crunch by contracting your abs and shortening the distance of your sternum to your hips. Hold a weight either behind your head or on or directly above your chest.

Pull Down Abs- Stand with your back to a pull down machine and grab rope attachment behind your head. By contracting and pulling with your abs, lower yourself until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Pause for a second at the bottom and slowly lower yourself to the top. Pause again in the fully stretched position before beginning the next rep.

Decline Sit Up- Lay down on a decline bench and lock your feet down either with a pad or with a partner's assistance. Hold a weight on your chest and contract your abs to lift yourself up to the finish position. Descend under control and pause briefly in the fully stretched position before starting the next rep.

Hanging Leg Raise- Hang from a chin up bar with your body completely straight. Bend your legs ninety degrees and begin by flexing at the hip, while consciously contracting your abs, and bring your legs up as high as possible. Your knees should touch your upper chest and your hips should be rolled forward in the finish position. For an advanced version of this exercise, keep your legs completely straight. This exercise will hit the lower abs hard.

Dragonfly- Lay down on a standard flat bench with your body completely straight and grab a hold of the bench above your head. By using your abs, pull your body up completely straight until you reach a forty five degree angle with the ground. The easier version of this is to allow your hips to flex and use your legs to increase the momentum of the movement. This is an incredible exercise for the lower abdominals.

Dumbbell Side Bend- Strong obliques are one of the critical keys to a big squat and dead lift and are essential for optimal athletic performance. Stand up tall with your chest out and shoulders back. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand on your hip. Bend down to one side and pull back with your obliques on the opposite side to complete the movement.

Rope Wood Chopper- Attach a rope to a pull down or cable crossover machine and grab the handles with your body angled sideways. With both arms straight, use your obliques to bring the rope across your body while twisting at the hips.

Band Wood Chopper: Take a Jump Stretch band and loop it over the top of a power rack. Split your legs with one forward and one backwards and grab the band with both hands and pull it over one shoulder. From there, perform a wood chopping motion and try to touch your opposite elbow to your front knee.

Side Raise on Glute Ham Bench- Start by lying down sideways on a glute ham bench with your legs straight and your arms behind your head. While being sure to stretch fully, commence the exercise by contracting your obliques and lifting your body up to a position slightly above parallel. Hold a dumbbell behind your head to increase the difficulty of this movement.

Side Raise on 45 Degree Back Extension- Position yourself sideways with your legs split and hold your hands behind your head. Descend into the fully stretched position and pause for a second before contracting your obliques and lifting yourself back to the top position. Hold a dumbbell behind your head or in the same hand as the side you are laying on to increase the difficulty of this exercise.

Russian Twist: Get in a sit up position with your feet hooked under a bench. Hold a weight at arms length in front of you and descend into the midrange position of a sit up. Rotate your body and bring the plate all the way to the ground on one side before returning to the middle for a brief pause and repeating to the other side. This exercise is great because it works the entire core in the same range of motion that you will typically use in combat when taking down an opponent.

Barbell Russian Twist- Place a towel in the corner of a room or power rack and place one end of a barbell against it. Grab hold of the opposite end of the bar with your arms out in front of you and take a shoulder width stance. Rotate to one side as you bring the bar down to your hip with your arms straight. To return to the start position, explosively pull from your obliques on the opposite side as you swing the bar back to the top. Pause for a second and proceed to lower the bar to the other side.

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