Doing the same ab exercises in all of your workouts can get tedious and boring, particularly if you’ve already done thousands of crunches. Leg lifts on a dip bar can be a challenging new exercise for your abs. When performed correctly, these leg lifts target the rectus abdominis -- the six-pack muscle -- as well as your hip flexors. After trying a couple of these leg lifts, you’ll also notice that your upper body has to work pretty hard as well.
Adjust the dip bar so it is a bit wider than your shoulders. Because not all dip bars are adjustable, you should ask a trainer at your gym for help if you’re not sure how to do this.
Stand between the bars and place your hands on top of them. Boost yourself up so your shoulders are over your hands and your arms are straight. Look closely at your dip bars -- most have a little platform or ledge to help get you into position.
Let your legs hang straight down and push your arms down into the bars. This helps keep your shoulders down, which you’ll need to do throughout the exercise.
Bend your knees as you lift your thighs. Once your thighs reach hip height, curl your knees up higher and bring them toward your chest. If you don’t lift your thighs above the level of your hips, you’re only working your hip flexors. To strengthen your abs, you have to go higher.
Return your legs so they hang straight down below the bars. Lower your legs with control. Don’t be tempted to drop them quickly so your legs swing into the next repetition.
Check your shoulders to make sure they’re still down. If they’re getting closer to your ears, push into the bars with your hands.
Perform eight leg lifts. Drop down from the dip bars and rest for about two minutes. Perform another set of eight. Gradually work up to 15 repetitions per set.
- If this version is too much for your upper body, see if your gym has a Captain’s Chair. This machine has padded rests for your forearms. Because your arms are bent, with your shoulders directly over your elbows, it’s easier to support your body weight. If the standard bent-knee version is too easy for you, make the exercise more difficult by keeping your legs straight throughout. Still too easy? Hold a medicine ball between your knees.
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