I've been working on strengthening my core with my trainer, Tim Rich, at Crunch Gym. He recommended a do-anywhere exercise that is anything but easy but will definitely help strengthen your ab muscles. The move, called the split crunch, uses your leg positioning to modify a normal run-of-the-mill crunch. The result? An ab-killing exercise that you can fit in anytime.
- To start, lie on your back, making sure your abs are engaged and your spine is neutral. Read these tips for proper back form when doing the Pilates, The Hundred — just like in the classic Pilates move, when doing the split crunch your belly button should be pulled in toward your spine.
- Next, straighten both your legs to a 90-degree angle from your torso, feet parallel to the floor with soles facing the ceiling (see picture above). Put your hands behind your ears — not the back of your head or neck, or you may risk straining your neck as you do the move — and pull your chin in toward your chest, fixing your gaze on your belly button.
Ready to go? Read on for the rest of the split crunch move.
- Once you're in position, it's time to start doing crunches. Make sure you're rounding your spine and keeping your belly button in as you pull up. Curl up and make a "C" shape with your back before slowly releasing. Repeat this leg position five times.
- Now lower one leg until it is a few inches from the floor (the lower the harder the exercise, but if you find it's too difficult, raise the lower leg a little higher), making sure to point your toes in the same direction your leg is pointed like the picture below. The other leg should stay at the same up-pointed position. Do five more crunches at this position.
- Switch legs and do five more crunches with the opposite leg now lowered.
- Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and then repeat the exercise again two or three times.
Done! Each set only takes a few minutes, but you'll really feel how hard your core muscles are working when you do this move.