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Are you dreaming of having flat, washboard abs by summer? Or perhaps you would be happy with just a little extra tone on your belly. Either way, working your abs doesn’t have to mean hours of grueling crunches. If you hate crunches, try these great abdominal exercises instead. They’re just as effective, and often a lot less painful.
Seated leg lifts. Begin in a seated position, with your legs extended straight out in front of you on the ground. Place your hands on either side of your bottom, keeping your back straight. Alternate lifting your legs about six inches off the ground. Hold for about five seconds, then put the leg back down and switch to the other leg. Do three sets of lifts for a minute each.
Planks. Get into pushup position, then lower your body and rest on your forearms. Hold for one minute (or as long as you can). Remember to keep your back straight! Do three sets of these, then move on to modified plank exercises.
Modified planks. From pushup position, perform a standard plank. Then lift your right hand and left foot off the ground, holding this position for twenty seconds. Return to pushup position, then lift your left hand and right foot off the ground for twenty seconds. Do three of these on each side.
Side plank. From the pushup position, twist your body and lift one arm, so that you’re facing the wall with all of your weight on one hand and one leg. Stack your top leg on top of the supporting leg, and lift your upper arm straight to the ceiling. Remember to keep your back straight and your bottom arm perpendicular to the floor. You can also do this exercise on your forearm, if it places too much pressure on your bottom hand. Hold this position for one minute, or as long as you can, then repeat on the other side. Do three sets of these.
Spider planks. Get into pushup position, keeping your back straight. Bring your right knee toward the outside of your right elbow, then return it to starting position. Repeat with your left leg. Do five reps with each leg, then rest. Aim for three sets of spider planks.
Remember to consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program!