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Tightening the muscles of the rectus abdominis -- commonly called the six-pack muscles -- makes you appear more fit, but these muscles are not merely for vanity. In fact, your abdominal muscles are used in nearly all your daily activities. Because they are always being used to stabilize your body and protect your spine, the rectus abdominus muscles are well conditioned. This means they require less rest between exercises, allowing you to go through a full ab routine relatively quickly.
Lie on your back with your knees bent to begin a three-fourths situp exercise. Have a partner hold your feet down or position your toes under a couch or other piece of stable furniture to hold your legs in place. Place your arms crossed on your chest. Flex your abdominal muscles while raising your torso until you are in a near-sitting position. Lower your torso at a slow, controlled pace to retain tension on your abs.
Place your hands at your sides with your legs straight to do leg raises. This exercise can be performed by either laying on a bench or on the floor. Flex your abdominal muscles and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower your legs to the beginning position, maintaining tension on your abs.
Straighten your legs in front of you to start a vertical toe touch. Keep your hands at your sides. Flex your abdominal muscles and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your lower back on the floor and raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement and touch your toes. While maintaining tension on the abs, lower your legs and then your torso to the starting position.
Lie on the floor with your arms extended over your head and your legs extended in front of you. Keep your knees together and pull them toward your chest. Keeping the tension on your ab muscles, return to the start position. This exercise is known as cocoons.
Lie on your back with your legs in front of you and bent at the knees to do a basic crunch. Place your hands palms down on your chest. Raise your shoulders and torso in a curling movement. Limit your range of motion lifting just high enough so your lower back does not come off the floor.
Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight. Place your hands at your sides parallel to your body. Slowly bring your legs to your chest, bending at the knee. Raise your shoulders and torso in a curling movement as far as possible from the ground without raising your lower back from the floor. Return your legs to the starting position, and bring your torso back to the floor. This exercise is the bent knee crunch.
- Perform three sets of each exercise for as many reps as possible. Perform a superset of individual exercises by doing them consecutively without stopping between exercises. Combine exercises one and two into a superset, then combine exercises three and four into another superset, and combine exercises five, six and seven into third superset. Rest for 30 seconds in between supersets. After finishing exercise seven, rest for one minute and start over, and complete that three-superset routine three times. For each exercise, maintain control throughout the entire movement.