Exercise Directory [Core]


See Exercises For - Abdominal - Arms - Back - Chest - Legs - Shoulders

Of all the muscles on your body, your core is going to make or break you as a fitness enthusiast. A nice six pack, a lack of love handles, and you are well on your way to showing off at the beach. The secret to working your core at all times is to concentrate all of your efforts and thoughts on the muscle you are trying to work. Try closing your eyes, and you will be able to stay focused easier on the muscle and less on the movement, or amount you can do.

Crunch (Standard)
Target Muscles: Rectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back either on the floor or on an abdominal bench with  your knees bent over your hips and your ankles touching. If you are  on the floor, rest your feet on a bench with your knees bent at 90°.
2. Place your hands lightly by the sides of your head (or across your  chest if you are a beginner). 3. Press your lower back to the floor or bench.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and shoulders from  the floor or bench. You should only come up about 10 cm and your  lower back should remain on the floor.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.


Crunch (Cross Leg)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back either on the floor or on an abdominal bench with  your knees bent over your hips and one leg crossed so your ankle is just below your knee
2. Place your hands lightly by the sides of your head (or across your  chest if you are a beginner).
3. Press your lower back to the floor or bench.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and shoulders from  the floor or bench. You should only come up about 10 cm and your  lower back should remain on the floor.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.


Crunch (90 Degree)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back either on the floor and rest your feet on a bench with your knees bent at 90°.
2. Place your hands lightly by the sides of your head (or across your  chest if you are a beginner). 3. Press your lower back to the floor or bench.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and shoulders from  the floor or bench. You should only come up about 10 cm and your  lower back should remain on the floor.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.


Crunch (Decline Bench)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back on a decline bench with  your ankles under the pads that hold you in.
2. Place your hands lightly by the sides of your head (or across your  chest if you are a beginner). 3. Press your lower back to the floor or bench.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and shoulders from  the floor or bench. You should only come up about 10 cm and your  lower back should remain on the floor.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.


Crunch (Bench Reverse)
Target Muscles: Rectus abdominis (mainly the lower part), transverse abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back on a bench with your knees bent  over your hips and your ankles touching (as for crunches).
2. Place your arms on the bench along side your body or holding on to the sides of the bench.
3. Press your lower back to  bench.
The Movement:
1. Slowly curl your hips off the bench, aiming your knees towards your  chest. Your hips should raise no more than 10 em.
2. Hold for a count of two.
3. Slowly lower your hips to the starting position, maintaining constant  tension in your abdominals.
Tips:
• This should be a controlled, deliberate movement. Do not jerk, swing  or bounce your hips off the bench; curl one vertebra up at a time.
• Do not allow your abdominals to relax at the top of the movement or  while you are uncurling.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.



Crunch (Oblique)
Target Muscles: Internal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet either resting on a  bench or flat on the floor.
2. Place your left hand by the side of your head, and your right hand on  the floor for support.
The Movement:
1. Lift your left shoulder diagonally, aiming it towards your right knee.
2. Hold for two counts; then slowly return to your starting position.
3. After completing the required number of repetitions, repeat the  exercise on the other side.
Tips:
• Imagine your rib cage rotating to the side as you curl up.
• Lead with your shoulder rather than your elbow.
• Make sure you lower your upper body slowly back to the floor.
• Do not twist your head, only your torso. . Exhale as you contract your  abdominals.



Crunch (Oblique Decline Bench)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back on a decline bench with  your ankles under the pads that hold you in.
2. Place your left hand by the side of your head, and your right hand on  the floor for support.
The Movement:
1. Lift your left shoulder diagonally, aiming it towards your right knee.
2. Hold for two counts; then slowly return to your starting position.
3. After completing the required number of repetitions, repeat the  exercise on the other side.
Tips:
• Imagine your rib cage rotating to the side as you curl up.
• Lead with your shoulder rather than your elbow.
• Make sure you lower your upper body slowly back to the floor.
• Do not twist your head, only your torso. . Exhale as you contract your  abdominals.



Crunch (Oblique 90 Degree)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back either on the floor and rest your feet on a bench with your knees bent at 90°.
2. Place your left hand by the side of your head, and your right hand on  the floor for support.
The Movement:
1. Lift your left shoulder diagonally, aiming it towards your right knee.
2. Hold for two counts; then slowly return to your starting position.
3. After completing the required number of repetitions, repeat the  exercise on the other side.
Tips:
• Imagine your rib cage rotating to the side as you curl up.
• Lead with your shoulder rather than your elbow.
• Make sure you lower your upper body slowly back to the floor.
• Do not twist your head, only your torso. . Exhale as you contract your  abdominals.



Crunch (Side)
Target Muscles: Internal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Lie on the floor or on an abdominal bench on your side with your  knees slightly bent.
2. Place your top arm behind your head.
The Movement:
1. Slowly exhale as you raise your head and shoulders a short distance  off the floor or bench, aiming your ribs towards your top hip.
2. Hold for a count of two; then breathe in as you return to the starting  position.
3. Repeat for the required number of repetitions; then perform the  exercise on your other side.
Tips:
• Aim to reduce the space between your ribs and hips.
• Do not worry if you don't reach up very far - concentrate on feeling the  movement.
• Keep your head in line with your body ­ don't jerk it upwards.



Crunch (Hanging)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Hang from a chin up bar, the top frame of a smith machine or anywhere else that your feet will not touch the floor.
2. Your arms should be fully extended and your lower back slightly  arched.
The Movement:
1. Never let your legs extend behind your body.
2. Keeping your legs almost straight, exhale and raise them upwards just enough to get a flexion of your entire abdominal region. Ideally they should never come all the way to your hips, or else you lose emphasis on the mid abdominals.
3. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 20 - 30° to the  horizontal.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance



Knee Lift (Hanging)
Target Muscles: Rectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Hang from a high bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. (You may  use wrist or elbow straps for support.)
2. Your arms should be fully extended and your lower back slightly  arched.
The Movement:
1. Take your legs slightly behind your body.
2. Keeping your legs almost straight, exhale and raise them upwards as  high as pos­sible. Ideally they should come just above the level of  your hips. Focus on curling your hips towards your rib cage.
3. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance


Knee Lift (Flat Bench)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Sit on the edge of a flat bench so that you can balance with little assistance from your hands.
2. Straighten out your body so that your heels are an inch or two off the floor.
The Movement:
1. Bring your knees up as close to your chin as possible.
2. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs. Use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance



Knee Lift (Roman Chair Oblique)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Rest yourself on your forearms and grasp the handles for support.
2. Your arms should be fully extended and your lower back slightly  arched.
The Movement:
1. Take your legs slightly behind your body.
2. Bring your knees up at a curling angle so that your ankle touches the dip handle in front of the arm rest.
3. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
4. Repeat in the opposite direction to complete one rep.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance



Leg Lift (Roman Chair)
Target Muscles: Rectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Rest yourself on your forearms and grasp the handles for support.
2. Your arms should be fully extended and your lower back slightly  arched.
The Movement:
1. Take your legs slightly behind your body.
2. Keeping your legs almost straight, exhale and raise them upwards as  high as pos­sible. Ideally they should come just above the level of  your hips. Focus on curling your hips towards your rib cage.
3. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance


Leg Lift (Bench Standard)
Target Muscles: Rectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Laying on the floor or on a bench, hold your legs about 10 cm off the floor.
2. Your arms can either lay beside you or grasp the side of the bench you are laying on..
The Movement:
1. Slowly lift your legs until they have a 90° angle to the rest of your body.
2. On the way down it is important to move as slow as possible to really burn the lower abs.
3. Stop short of laying your legs down and then start the motion over again.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance



Leg Lift (Hanging)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Hang from a chin up bar, the top frame of a smith machine or anywhere else that your feet will not touch the floor.
2. Your arms should be fully extended and your lower back slightly  arched.
The Movement:
1. Take your legs slightly behind your body.
2. Keeping your legs almost straight, exhale and raise them upwards as  high as pos­sible. Ideally they should come just above the level of  your hips. Focus on curling your hips towards your rib cage.
3. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return your legs to the starting  position.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.
• To make the exercise easier, bend your knees to reduce the  resistance



Crunch (Machine Upright)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Adjust the machine to your optimal height requirements.
2. Sit on the machine with your feet firmly on the floor.
3. Place your hands on the handles beside your head
4. Press your lower back to the pad in the back of the seat.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to pull your upper body down towards your knees.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.



Crunch (Machine Standard)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Lie flat on your back either on an abdominal bench with  your knees bent over your hips and your ankles touching.
2. Place your hands on the handles beside your head
3. Press your lower back to the pad and make sure your head is directly between the handles.
The Movement:
1. Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and shoulders from the bench. You should only come up about 10 cm and your  lower back should remain on the bench.
2. Hold in this contracted position for a count of two.
3. Let your body uncurl slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Focus on moving your ribs towards your hips.
• Do not pull your head with your hands ­ keep your elbows out and  relaxed.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.



Back Extension (Bench)
Target MusclesErector spinae, Gluteus
Starting Position:
1. Lie face down on the floor or on a back extension bench.
2. Place your hands by the sides of your head, elbows out to the sides. Alternatively, your arms may be placed behind on your back.
The Movement:
1. Slowly raise your head, shoulders and upper chest from the floor. This will be just a short distance.
2. Pause for a count of two; then lower slowly to the floor.
Tips:
• Keep your head facing downwards to the floor in line with your spine.
• Keep your legs relaxed on the floor - do not raise them.
• Only raise yourself as far as you feel comfortable.
Variations:
Back extension bench: Tuck your ankles underneath the pads and position your body so that your hips are resting on the middle pad, arms crossed in front of you. Raise your torso until you are parallel with the floor - do not rise higher than this. Slowly bend forwards at the waist until you are almost perpendicular to the floor. Keep your back flat.
• To make the movement harder, place your hands along the sides of your head. Alternatively, if you are an advanced weight trainer, hold a small weight disc against your chest.


Back Extension (Machine)
Target MusclesErector spinae, Gluteus
Starting Position:
1. Adjust the back machine to your desired height and stamina.
2. Place your hands by the sides of your head, elbows out to the sides. Alternatively, your arms may be placed behind on your thighs to keep from a jerking movement.
The Movement:
1. Slowly raise your head, shoulders and upper chest from the bent over position. Carry this out until your back is arched over the pad in the back.
2. Pause for a count of two; then lower slowly back to the starting position.
Tips:
• Keep your head strait at all times in line with your spine.
• Keep your legs relaxed on the foot rest - do not raise them.
• Only raise yourself as far as you feel comfortable.


Abdominal Roller
Target MusclesRectus abdominis, hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Hold the Ab Roller with both hands and kneel on the floor.
2. Now place the ab roller on the floor in front of you so that you are on all your hands and knees (as in a kneeling push up position).
3. This will be your starting position.
The Movement:
1. Slowly roll the ab roller straight forward, stretching your body into a straight position.
2. Breathe in during this portion of the movement.
3. After a pause at the stretched position, start pulling yourself back to the starting position as you breathe out.
Tips:
• Go down as far as you can without touching the floor with your body.
• Go slowly and keep your abs tight at all times.
• This exercise is not advised for people with lower back problems or hernias.
Variations:
If you are advanced you can perform the exercise moving the ab roller to the sides in a diagonal fashion as opposed to straight forward. This version places more emphasis on the obliques.



Crunch (Cable Rope Resisted)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (mainly the upper part)
Starting Position:
1. Kneel below a high pulley that contains a rope attachment.
2. Grasp cable rope attachment and lower the rope until your hands are placed next to your face.
3. Flex your hips slightly and allow the weight to hyperextend the lower back. This will be your starting position.
The Movement:
1. With the hips stationary, flex the waist as you contract the abs so that the elbows travel towards the middle of the thighs.
2. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement and hold the contraction for a second.
3. Slowly return to the starting position as you inhale.
Tips:
• Make sure that you keep constant tension on the abs throughout the movement.
• Do not choose a weight so heavy that the lower back handles the brunt of the work.
• Exhale as you contract your abdominals.
Variations
You can perform this exercise with a handle instead so that you can concentrate on each side of the abs separately by performing the exercise to the side.



Torso Twist (Standing Bar)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by standing at the end of a flat bench with a bar placed in front of you.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the bar with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the bar up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the bar behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary, move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.



Torso Twist (Seated Bar)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by sitting at the end of a flat bench with a bar placed on top of your thighs.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the bar with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the bar up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the bar behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary, move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.


Torso Twist (Bent Over Bar)

Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by sitting at the end of a flat bench with a bar placed on top of your thighs.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the bar with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the bar up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the bar behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary,bend over and move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.


Torso Twist (Extension Bench Bar)

Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by placing your feet under the support pads of a back extension bench.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the bar with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the bar up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the bar behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary, move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.


Torso Twist (Standing Barbell)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by standing at the end of a flat bench with a barbell placed in front of you.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the bar with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the barbell up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the barbell behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary, move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.


Torso Twist (Seated Barbell)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Start out by seated at the end of a flat bench with a barbell placed in front of you.
2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart from each other.
3. Grip the barbell with your palms facing down and make sure your hands are wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
4. Begin to lift the barbell up over your head until your arms are fully extended.
5. Now lower the barbell behind your head until it is resting along the base of your neck.
The Movement:
1. While keeping your feet and head stationary, move your waist from side to side so that your oblique muscles feel the contraction.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.



Knee Lift (Machine)
Target MusclesRectus abdominis (especially the lower part), Hip flexors
Starting Position:
1. Place your shins on the pads of an ab rocker, after you have applied the amount of weight resistance you prefer to use below it.
2. Your forearms should rest on the pads as you grasp the handles firmly in front of you
The Movement:
1. Take your legs slightly behind your body.
2. Keeping your legs on the pads, exhale and raise them upwards as  high as pos­sible. Ideally they should come just above the level of  your hips. Focus on curling your hips towards your rib cage.
3. Inhale as your legs move back to the starting position.
4. Use your abdominals to keep your legs from swinging too far backwards.
Tips:
• Do not swing your knees up or use the momentum of your legs - use  the strength of your abdominals to move your hips and legs.
• For maximal results, raise your legs to approximately 30-45° to the  horizontal. The abs shorten only when your legs go past parallel-  below this point, they hold a static contraction as the hip flexors raise  the legs.



Torso Twist (Machine)
Target MusclesInternal and external oblique, rectus abdominis
Starting Position:
1. Select the desired weight on the machine.
2. Place your shins on the pads making sure your knees are between the maneuvering pads.
3. Place your chest firmly against the support pads so that your upper body will remain stationary throughout the movement..
4. Grasp the handles firmly to assist your upper torso from moving.
The Movement:
1. Twist your hips to the direction against the weight of the machine.
2. Only move from side to side as far as your waist will allow you to go.
3. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
4. Adjust the unit to allow you to work on the other side.
Tips:
• Stretching or moving too far can cause an injury to occur.
• Use a slow and controlled motion.
• Remember to breathe out while twisting your body to the side and in when moving back to the starting position.