Ab crunches on the floor are a timeless classic, but if you need a challenge, take the move over to the incline bench. Strangely enough, the incline bench is also called the decline bench, but the point is that it's at an angle. When your feet are at the top of the incline and your head's at the bottom, your abs have to do some serious work to lift you to a situp position. Be sure you're doing the move properly to get the most from the exercise.
Set the angle of the incline bench to between 30 and 45 degrees. The greater the angle, the more challenging the situp will be.
Sit at the top of the bench and place one foot behind each pad. The pad should rest horizontally across the top of your ankle, securing your feet in place.
Lie back so your head is at the bottom of the bench. Cross your arms over your chest or rest the back of your head on your hands without interlacing your fingers. Inhale.
Exhale as you tighten your abs to pull yourself up to a situp position at the top of the bench. Hold for one or two seconds.
Lower your body down until your back almost touches the bench.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as you can before your muscles fatigue, for up to 12 repetitions. Continue to inhale as you lower and exhale as you lift. Aim for three sets of 12.
- If you place your hands behind your head like you would for a traditional situp, keep your elbows out to the sides to prevent pulling on your neck.
- For an added challenge, twist to one side as you come up and touch your elbow to your knee. Alternate sides each time you sit up.
- If you are new to exercise or have any abdominal or back injuries, consult a doctor before starting an exercise program that contains situps.
S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.