Кві 12

Laying leg raises


You should start performing this exercise only when you master previous two kinds of abs workout (sitting leg raises and alternate leg raises) with correct technique. As you can see from the title, all today’s variations of leg raises are performed in laying position. This gives an ability to unload the spine, but with one requirement: your lower back should not tear from the floor on bend too much up. Always control the fold by trying to put a hand under your lower back in top tension phase: if you can do this – the fold is too big. We will regulate the muscle load with leg straightening rate. Let’s start from the easy variation.

Leg raises with knees bent

What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, psoas muscle, hip muscles.
Performing the exercise: lay on the floor, bend your knees at right angle. Put your hands by your body with palms down. Rise your feet above the floor and hold this position for one second (photo 1). On exhale, leaning on floor, slowly rise your bent legs, until they are parallel to the floor (photo 2). After one second pause, on inhale, slowly go back to the starting position (do not put your heel on the floor). Repeat 20 times.
Leg raises with knees bent (starting position)Leg raises with knees bent (final position)
Notice: at the top position your body should make two right angles – in knee and hip joints. During the exercise only the angle between hips and core should change. Keep your abdominals always tensed, like you are pushing your lower back towards the floor – this will help to avoid excessive fold. Do not spread your legs, knees and feet should be together. Completely control the movement, move slowly (minimum 3 seconds to go down and 2 to go up), breathe rhythmically and synchronized to movement. If it is difficult for you to do all 20 reps with required technique – you can periodically touch the floor with your heels (for example every fifth tome you go down), but with time aim on rejecting that support. If the movement is easy for you – move on to the next level.

Half-bent leg raises

Performing the exercise: lay on the floor, straighten your hands by your body, palms down (knee angle should be one third bigger than in previous exercise). Before you start, tear your heels from the floor (photo 3). Keeping legs together and leaning your hands on the floor, slowly rise your legs (do not change knee angle). At the top position heel will be on your wrists level, and the lower back will start to tear from the floor (photo 4). Make one second pause and stabilize the body, then go back to the stating position (but don’t put your heels on the floor, hold your legs always in the air.
Half-bent leg raises (starting position)Half-bent leg raises (final position)
Notice: muscle load depends mainly on leg straightening rate, so at first stages you may bend them more. When doing the exercise (especially when legs go down), tense your arm muscles – this will help to keep your body straight and prevent swinging. Do not forget to tighten your lower back to the floor, using abdominals and lower back muscles. Synchronize breathing with movement: raise legs – exhale, at the top point hold your breath and tense your abdominals, doing down – inhale. Pay the main attention to slowly bring your legs down (you can reach 7 seconds at it) – in this movement phase all the purpose muscles get the required load. Try not to touch the floor with your heels during all the rep series, regulate the load with knee angle.
Having mastered the technique on proper level (at least 20 reps per set), try to complicate the exercise: at the top point straighten your legs (photo 5) and bring them down straight (photo 6). Watch your knees position, they should not bend to the moment when your legs are fully down (better decrease the depth at the beginning, but knees should stay straight).
Straight leg raises (starting position) Straight leg raises (final position)
If you can do 20 reps with good technique (spending at least 5 seconds for each lower and making 2-3 seconds pause at bottom position) – you’ve opened your way to the most effective variation: straight legs. This technique makes higher requirements to all the involved muscles, but also works on them fullest. As it seen from the name, your legs should stay straight during all the exercise. Do not forget to tense all muscles to keep your body from swinging and not let your lower back bend. Perform the exercise slowly (spend at least 5 seconds to go down, to go up – 3 seconds), keep full control on your body. When you reach 20 reps with perfect technique – strong and resilient abdominals as the result won’t make you wait. Have a good training!


Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.

Кві 12

Alternate leg raises


If you fully mastered seated leg raises, and can perform the most difficult variation of it at least 20 times – try to increase the load on abdominals, by taking horizontal position. As in plank and push-ups, this will make the exercises more difficult, but more effective. Besides, you won’t even need a stool, but this is one of the advantages of home training – full muscle work without equipment.
What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, psoas muscle, rectus hip muscle.
Performing the exercise: lay on the floor, bend your knees and put straight arms along your body. Take your legs off the floor, bend them in hip joint, so that they were in vertical position (photo 1). Without back bending start to straighten one leg, but don’t put it on the floor at the end (photo 2). After one second pause, get the straight leg to the starting position, straighten the other one at the same time. Repeat for required number of times.
Alternate leg raises (starting position)Alternate leg raises (final position)
Notice: movement should be smooth and slow, spending about 5 seconds on one leg. You can synchronize your breath with movement: straighten one – inhale, straighten the other one – exhale. Heels must move maximum close to the floor, but not touch it during the whole cycle. Watch your lower back, using your muscles keep it tightened to the floor (or keep small initial bend). You must rise the number of reps to 20 for each leg. If it’s difficult for now – try to periodically put inactive (bent) leg on the floor, but as the muscle strength grows, go back to correct technique. If you are exercising on the hard floor, don’t forget to put something soft under lower back or use gymnastic carpet.
If you have mastered this exercise, try to increase the load, adding arms movement: when straighten one led, move the opposite hand (for right leg – left one and all the way round) behind your head (but keep it in the air) (photo 3). When switching active (straight) leg, switch hand at the same time (describing a half-circle in horizontal or vertical plane). In this kind of exercise you must pay even more attention to lower back, because coordinated moves of arms and legs may cause excessive bends up, as well as to the sides (always keep your muscles tensed to avoid excessive lower back moves).
Alternate leg raises (complicated variation)
If you perform all the exercises descripted above, you will prepare your body to the hardest thing (that works on abdominals really intensively) exercise – laying leg raises.


Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.

Кві 12

Seated leg raises


If you have read the article about crunches, you surely know, that despite its popularity, this exercise is far from the best for strong and develop your abdominals. Besides, it is quite isolating (affecting only a small muscle section). It is better for home training to choose exercises that involve bigger muscle groups – in this case, in a smaller period of time you can get better result (we train at home, because we do not have much free time). In today’s article we will look at some exercise, aiming to work on all the front body muscles.
What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, psoas muscle, rectus hip muscle.
Performing the exercise: sit on the edge of a stable stool (if you use a chair with a back, place it beside you). Grab the edge of the stool, straighten your legs, so that they almost touch the floor, and lean back, so that your body was making a straight line with legs (photo 1). On exhale, keeping legs together, slowly bend them in knees and hips, pulling them to chest. At the top point make one second pause (photo 2) and slowly go back to the starting position on exhale. Repeat the exercise for required number of reps.
Seated leg raises (starting position) Seated leg raises (final position)
Notice: try to keep your abdominals tensed during the whole exercise. Don’t try to touch your chest with knees by bending your back – 20 cm of space should remain. Your knees can be the indicator of proper bend: if at the top point they start to spread – you should stop. Perform the exercise in 2-1-3-1 rhythm (2 seconds to pull legs, one second pause at the top, three seconds to control the leg lower, one second pause to prepare to the next rep).
If it’s difficult for you to perform with proposed technique – try to sit a little more straight or lower your legs not so low. With time you should master the correct exercise technique.
If you have mastered this kind of exercise, you can move on to more difficult (also more effective) exercises for abdominals, that are performed laying. We recommend you to start from alternate leg raises.


Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.

Кві 12

Reverse Crunches


As I wrote in the article about classic crunches, the main task of the rectus abdominal (which forms those desired six-pack) – to pull ribs to pelvis (like in front crunches) or pelvis to ribs (like in reverse crunches). Though for the muscle itself there’s no such a difference, it is considered, that front crunches work better on the upper section, and reverse ones – the lower.
Performing the exercise: lay on the floor, completely bent your legs in knees and hips. Straighten your hands by your body, palms down (photo 1). Using abdominals get your pelvis off the floor and hold this position for few seconds (photo 2). Slowly go back to the starting position and repeat required number of reps.
Reverse Crunches (starting position) Reverse Crunches (final position)
Notice: do not try to move your legs maximum back/behind, your task – is to close the pelvis to the ribs (to continue the movement, other muscles will switch on, which gets the load off the abdominals). Lean on the floor with your palms – this will help at the starting point. To regulate the load on abdominals try to gradually straighten your legs, so that in lower position they were perpendicular to the floor (feet up): this is the hardest variation.
If your hand force is not enough – try another variation of regular crunches: straighten your hands above the head and grab the stable pillar (bed or closet). Bend your knees completely, and your hips to the right angle with core. Perform crunches by lifting your pelvis, the angle between hips and stomach should stay constant. Upper back should stay on the floor. When you have felt the maximum abdominals tension, hold on for few seconds and slowly go back to the starting position. Other crunch rules stay the same: keep full movement control (especially in going down phase), exhale – rise up, inhale – go down, put something soft under your lower back, hands are not necessarily straight, you may bend them a little.
As I said at the beginning, crunches – is the most famous, but not the best exercise for abs. If you are aiming on strengthening your abdominals, I advise you to also include different leg rises and static holds (“L-seat”). But don’t forget – the way to desired six-pack lays not only through abs training, but through getting rid of excessive fat, which (especially men) is accumulated in waist section. For this you should reconsider you ration and include energy consuming, multi-joint exercises to your training program (for example squats, push-ups or at least plank)


Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.

Кві 12

Exercises for abdominals


When it is spoken about stomach muscles – it is mostly meant abs. And when it comes to abs exercises – first of all the crunches are mentioned. Who among us, at least for once, (especially before beach season) did not started to do this exercise. Laying on the floor, legs bent in knees, hands by the head. You start to crunch (actually pull yourself by the head to your knees). You do one, you do two. Your neck hurts the next morning (in excessive zeal you spraint the neck muscles), your back hurts (mauled your spine with the floor), even stomach muscles hurt. But you still can’t see your desired six-pack. When you “raped” yourself in that way a couple of days, you lose all the motivation. Also different papers, magazines and shows meet your eye: saying that those crunches are ineffective to get you six-pack, and they bring more harm, than benefit, so you’d better buy our new slimming belt, or order our new diet, or sign in to our gym. There is a part of truth in this, but only in the first part. Yes, crunches (especially with technique, which is mostly used) will not help you to get clear conspicuous abs. All the more they will not help you to slim, if you carry some excessive kilos of fat.
But to say that crunches are ineffective – is a lie. As any other kind of physical load, crunches deserve attention. At least for keeping your muscle tone. This will keep your internal organs safe from injuries and hernias, increase your posture, help doing routine and training programs. With time, when excessive kilos disappear (crunches are really not the best for this purpose – try squats or other basic exercises), your desired abs will rise shining. That’s why I propose to attack crunches once more, but for this time – with correct technique.

Front Crunches

What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals.
Performing the exercise: lay on your back, bend your legs in knees and put them on the floor or on a stable 40-50 cm pillar. Cross your hands on chest, put your palms on shoulders or under arms (photo 1). Start the exercise by getting your upper back off the floor with a crunch move (photo 2). Hold in upper position for a few seconds and go back slowly to the starting position.
Crunches (starting position) Crunches (final position)
Notice: though the exercise is for stomach muscles, the main movement phase is on chest section of spine (because the main function of abdominals is to pull ribs to pelvis). Do not tear the lateral spine section from the floor, your body goes up for approximately 30 degrees. Do not band your neck too much (in upper point your look should be pointing at the knees), all the more don’t pull yourself by the head, with your arms behind it (if you are used to this hands position – better put them palm-side on your forehead). The best effect you will get by performing the exercise slowly and smooth, making accent on the upper point, breathe synchronously with movement: exhale when curl, on exhale hold at the top point, when going down – inhale. Do not try to increase number of reps (20 would be enough), better grab some weights (like a bottle with water or a small dumbbell), putting it parallel to your shoulders. When performing this exercise on hard floor, make sure to put something soft by your lower back (like bent towel) or do this on a gymnastic carpet.
To switch on the oblique abdominals in upper point of the exercise you should turn a little, pointing with your elbow to the opposite leg’s knee (left elbow to right knee and all the way round) (photo 3, photo 4). Do not try to touch your knee – this will lead to tearing the lateral spine section from the floor, and the exercise for stomach will turn into the exercise for legs. You can switch different variations of the exercise in one set: one front crunch, one left, one right and front again.
Side crunches (starting position)Side crunches (final position)
Having mastered previous exercise, you can try harder variation – “bicycle”. In the starting position lay straight, get the leg pillar off. Put your palms on ears (do not put them on the back of your head, all the more, do not pull your head during the exercise) (photo 5). When doing side crunches, at the same time rise your leg above the floor (do not put it back on the floor), with the knee of the other one, touch the elbow of the opposite hand (photo 6). Make one second pause, switch the position by straightening the bent leg, and bending the straightened one.
“Bicycle” exercise for abdominals (starting position) “Bicycle” exercise for abdominals (final position)
Also you can differ you training program by switching front and reverse crunches.


Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.


Other articles about exercises for abdominals:

Sitting leg raises: the exercise for beginners, giving the ability to work on all the front body.
Sequential leg raises: increasing the load on rectus and oblique abdominals, and also on hip and lower back muscles.
Laying leg rises: three variations of raises from laying position to effectively work on all the stomach muscles.