Begin in bent-knee sit-up position, feet on the floor, arms straight and extended, palms against the floor forming a cradle for your pelvis, as during Lying Leg Thrusts (Fig. 13-a). Roll backward until your knees hit your chest and your lower back comes off the floor (Fig. 13-b). Lower and repeat. In order to keep the abs contracted throughout the set, don't return your feet to the floor between reps.

Pace should be moderate-about 1 rep per second.

Rock backs lower abs conditioning
Fig. 13


This last exercise is optional. Requiring equipment found in most gyms, it is included for competitive or very dedicated bodybuilders who wish to "fine tune" their abs.

Drape a towel around the cable connecting to a lat pull-down bar, so that by holding both ends you can pull the bar down.

Starting Position

Kneel in front of the machine, holding the ends of the towel, and pull down until your wrists reach the top of your head. Stay far enough from the machine that the cable reaches you at a slight angle, rather than running straight down (Fig 14-a).

Pull down ab crunches
fig. 14

The Movement

Keeping your hands against the top of your head, hunch over until your elbows come about a quarter of the way to your knees (Fig. 14b). Don't come down any further than shown. Movement beyond this position is motivated by the psoas, not the abs. Hold for a second or two, then uncurl back to starting position.

Think of hunching over a pole running across your chest, just below your sternum. This will maximize ab involvement and minimize the psoas' contribution.

With an Elastic Strap

Pull-Down Ab Crunches can also be done using an elastic band to provide resistance. Drape the band over the top of your chinning bar, a low tree branch, etc., grip both ends (Fig. 15), and perform the exercise exactly as described above.

Pull down ab crunches

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