Crunch-atize Me: Work the Lower and Upper Abs

22 Feb

Dearest Readers,

So I’ve done obliques and planks and daily abs, but I have yet to give you my fave ab workouts (I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this day….probably not sleeping at night…understandable). What’s difficult about abs is working both the lower and upper abs, because we want to have the killer six-pack and to lose the muffin-top. Having a good core, or powerhouse, is critical to overall strength. It helps bad posture (as your sitting and reading this try to sit straight up….you are working your abs right now).

If you are really serious about abs, TAKE PILATES. Male or female, pilates is an ab workout that will leave you unable to move your abs for days…aka it’s great. Classes are offered at Ping or you could take the 2 credit hour class offered at the dance school (I took it…amazing). But if you can’t make it to Pilates…here are my top straight ab workouts:

Crunch Variations: Everyone knows the classic crunch: laying down, legs bent hip length apart crunching up with a tennis ball sized space between your chin and your chest. (exhale as you come up and inhale as you go down) try to take almost all of your shoulder blade off the ground. Keep your hands behind your head, but not pulling your head. We’ve all heard that since elementary school gym, but the variation possibilities are what really make ab workouts better!

Crunch with arms straight out over your head: This adds a longer lever to your crunch, so that way it is more challenging and forces your abs to work harder. To do this get in conventional crunch position, but have your arms above your head with your hands on top of each other, when you crunch up bring your hands up to meet your knees.

i'm so pleased to be doing a straight arm crunch!

Crunch with legs up straight: This time instead of keeping your arm straight, keep your legs straight. It works the lower abs.

serious face: straight leg crunch

Reverse Crunches: It’s hardest to work the lower abs, but this is one of the only exercises that specifically targets the lower abs. Lay down on your back with your legs straight up to the ceiling, ankles crossed. Instead of crunching your top half up, crunch your legs up (aka act like your legs are trying to touch the ceiling). So “hit the ceiling” and come immediately back down. This exercise is really quick, but the key is to really focus on your abs: are your abs doing the crunching? To help you keep your hands down at your sides and push off of them to get more leverage. Keep your head and shoulders down at all times. Do 25 of these (and cry).

this is one of the most unattractive photos....but this is how far you lift with a reverse crunch...don't try to go high!

Onion Peel: If you were at a gym, you would use an exercise ball for this, but at home, use your pillow … between your feet (totally hygienic, I’m sure). Lay on your back and put the pillow between your legs straight up in the air. Crunch your upper body up and grab the pillow (now it’s in your hands), simultaneously LOWER BOTHER YOUR LEGS AND YOUR ARMS OUT STRAIGHT. Then crunch BOTH parts back in and switch so that your legs are holding your pillow. Try to keep your lower back on the ground. Do 12 full reps…meaning it has to touch both your hands and your feet to be a full rep. These are the hardest (and best) ab exercise I’ve found. I don’t know why it’s called an onion peel….maybe because it makes you cry???

start (look how happy i look)

the switch

end (note: my arms, legs, and top of my shoulders NEVER TOUCH THE GROUND)

Leg Lowers: These are pretty well-known but they really work it if you switch up the counting. Lay on your back with legs straight up (ankles uncrossed but feet together), with your arms at your sides. Lower your legs down as far as you can WITHOUT YOUR LOWER BACK LEAVING THE GROUND. Many make the mistake of lower their legs too far (to look cool or something), but as soon as your lower back comes off of the ground, you lose the exercise. Lower down for 10 seconds and lift in 1 second. Then lower for 9, lift in 1. Lower for 8, lift in 1. See where I am going here? It kills. When you get to lower for 1, lower for 10 one more time. Your abs should shake. That means you’re doing it right.

lowering my legs...i would only lower a little more than this normally

I hope these exercises have helped you work your lower and upper abs. It is getting to the end of my time as a blogger, and I am starting to run low on parts of the body to work. What would you, my lovely and loyal readers, like to see more of? More arms? Some cardio? More legs? Let me know, because I’m here to serve you!

Abdominally (again),

The Toned Toothpick Teacher (the T3)


3 Responses to “Crunch-atize Me: Work the Lower and Upper Abs”

  1. Tami February 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Next could be inner and outer thigh (adductor and abductor muscles). Also could include hamstrings to balance out the leg.


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