Ab Series From Hell
Those of you who have attended my Work Your Assets classes are all too familiar with my Ab Series. And while I have several abs series that I like to teach (muwahahaha), this is THE Ab Series–not the Brazilian or the Half Rollback Series or the 5 Part Series. This is the Split Leg Ab Series. All ten segments of it (yes, I have increased it from 9 to 10 parts–trust me! You’ll love it! Plus, ten just feels like a nice even number.) Reps for each segment are up to you. If you are starting out, maybe try 3 reps of each part on each side and eventually work your way up to 20 reps of each segment on each side (those of you frantically calculating, let me help–yes, there will, by the end be 400 movements if you are doing the full 20 reps. Ouch!) It goes without saying, but I’ll say it, please warmup beforehand; make sure your doctor is ok with you working out; and don’t blame me for injury. Without further ado…
Step one: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, neck resting lightly in your hands, and your legs in the air. If your quad (muscles on the front of your thighs) or hip flexor strength is lacking, or if this hurts your back, bend the knees. Exhale and lift your shoulder blades off the mat, crunching toward your legs as you draw your abs toward your spine. Inhale to lower to start. This is a basic crunch, up and down, for preferred number of reps.
Step Two: Lower one leg toward the floor (for the sake of instructions, we will start with the right leg lowering toward the floor), stopping when you feel as if your back is about to lift. Do not lower so much that your lower back lifts off the floor. Maintain contracted abs. Hold the legs in place and continue crunching up and down with your upper body for desired reps. Only the upper body is moving–the legs remain still, split apart, one leg closer to the mat.
Step Three: Hold the upper body lifted in the air after your last crunch. Now the upper body remains immobile, shoulder blades held off the floor, as the right leg lifts to start and then lowers as low as you are able to go maintaining proper form. Perform for desired reps. Make sure to breathe and keep that back down.
Step Four: From here on out, until the final set, you will be crunching toward your left leg. Keep this in mind, and you won’t get confused. When in doubt, crunch left. Return the right leg to its lowered position, holding it there while you crunch sideways toward your upright left leg. The legs are, again, still, and it is just the upper body crunching.
Step Five: Freeze after your last crunch; keep the upper body still, shoulder blades off the floor, body twisted toward the left, and lift and lower your right leg. Bring it up to meet the left, and then move it as low as you can toward the floor, just as you did with step three, holding the upper body still as you lift and lower the leg.
Step Six: Now combine the two movements by continuing to crunch to your left while lifting and lowering your right leg. As you crunch left, the right leg comes above the waist. As you lower your upper body toward the floor, lower the leg, reaching out through the toes. Keep that back down and please, do, breathe.
Step Seven: You’re almost there. For the right side, that is. Don’t forget, you still have to do all this on the left side. Return the right leg to its lowered position. Continue to crunch left, but as you do, lower the left leg to meet the right. As you crunch up, the left leg moves to its start position above the waist. As you lower your upper body, the left leg reaches out toward the right leg. So now, the upper body and the lower body are moving, as in step six, but the right leg is still, and it is the left leg that is moving. Things are going to get tougher now…
Step Eight: Stop your crunch, holding in the twist toward the left as you continue to lower and lift your left leg, trying to straighten it and bring it toward your immobile right leg. Keep the core engaged, and the back uninvolved. If your back is starting to hurt, lift the legs a little higher, and/or bend the knees.
Step Nine: Keep the left leg reaching out with the right, both as low as you can maintain. Crunch to the left for desired reps, lifting both shoulder blades off the floor. You’re almost there! One more to go.
Step Ten: Keep both legs as low as you can and finish off with forward crunches, as you did in the beginning, except now the legs are not above the waist, but are as low as possible. Crunch up and down for desired reps. Lift legs above waist once done, and now do it all again on the other side! You will have worked every part of your stomach by the end of this series. Make sure to stretch after and give yourself a pat on the back, or on that aching stomach.