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Exercise of the month: the seated ab crunch


Abdominal exercises are typically executed while lying on the floor, but for some people, getting up and down can be difficult. Thankfully, there are other suitable options for strengthening the midsection that can be performed conveniently at home, at the office, or any place where a chair, bench or other study surface is available. The Seated Ab Crunch is such an exercise, working important core muscles that help to provide strength and stability to the low back and improve posture. Strong abdominal/low back muscles act as a natural ‘girdle’ surrounding your entire waistline and protecting the spinal column and organs.

To perform

While seated in an upright position, fold the arms across the chest (as shown in photo 1). To prevent slouching through the lower back, maintain a neutral spine, meaning that the natural curves of the spinal column are held in place throughout the exercise.

Slowly lean backward as far as you are able to without rounding the back or letting the feet leave the floor (as shown in photo 2). Pause briefly before returning to an upright position. If using a chair, sit far forward enough so that when you are leaning you will not touch the back of the chair.

Variations

To increase difficulty, position fingertips behind the neck, keeping elbows back, instead of folding the arms across the chest.

To incorporate the obliques (sides of the waist), twist slowly to one side and then the other, while in the reclining position.

To incorporate more of the lower abdominal wall, lean back and lift both feet from the floor, bringing the knees as far toward the upper body as possible. The greater the bend at the knees, the easier, so for a greater challenge, as strength improves, work toward keeping legs straight or nearly straight while lifting them from the floor.

Beginners should start with 1 to 2 sets, performing as many repetitions as possible with good form. As always, if you have pre-existing medical conditions, are unaccustomed to exercise, or have injuries, check with your doctor before starting a fitness program.


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