KNEE ROCK-BACKS LOWER ABS CONDITIONING
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.
PULL-DOWN AB CRUNCHES
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.
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).
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.
The Balancing Antagonists
Throughout the body, muscle groups work in pairs to maintain a balance of strenght around joints. For this reason we're including optional spinal erector work.
This exercise is not essential for abdominal development-it's here as part of an integrated approach to conditioning for health. A proper balance of strength between abs and spinal erectors will insure good posture and a balanced distribution of stress in daily activity.
Hyperextensions are best done on a bench made for the purpose (found in most gyms), but they can also be done on the edge of a resilient surface like a padded table, arm of a sofa, etc., with someone holding your ankles.
Lie face down, bent at the waist, hanging over the edge of the bench (Fig. 16-a). Lightly rest your hands behind your head or neck, and slowly straighten your body to a horizontal position (Fig. 16-b). Don't come up any higher than this.
Throughout the motion, keep your head and shoulders arched backwards, as in swan dive.
Don't try to lace your fingers together behind your neck; this makes it impossible to fully arch the upper back. If you maintain the proper arch, your fingers will probably just barely reach the sides of your head.
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