Ab exercises -- can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Even if you dread doing crunches, there's no arguing that they do great things for your body when combined with cardio and a healthy diet. To really sculpt your abs, you'll need to exercise your obliques, the muscles that run down the sides of your belly from ribs to hipbones. Standing crunches allow you to work your obliques without ever lying down on one of those shared, germy gym mats.
Stand up with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Roll your shoulders back and down as if trying to put your shoulder blades in your back pockets. Keep your knees slightly bent.
Place your hands behind your head as you would when doing a traditional crunch. Touch your fingertips together without interlacing them, and keep your elbows in line with your ears.
Lift your right knee to the side, keeping your right leg bent at a 90-degree angle Simultaneously bring your right elbow down to meet your knee.
Lower your foot until your toe almost touches the ground, then repeat the crunch.
Do 15 crunches on your right side, then do 15 on your left. Work up to three sets of 15 crunches on each side, resting for at least 30 seconds between sets.
- Don't do ab crunches without consulting your doctor if you have any history of back, neck or knee pain.
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.