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4. Abdominal Crunches Lie face-up on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your head so they’re touching but not clasped. Contract your abdominals, bringing navel toward spine. Lift head, neck and shoulders off floor in 2 counts, exhaling as shoulder blades clear the floor. Lower in 2 counts and repeat. Begin with 10 reps; build to 15, then 20. Strengthens abdominals.
After 2 weeks of doing the exercises above 3–4 times per week, add the following two exercises to your routine:
5. Chair Pliés Straddle the seat of an armless chair and turn your toes and knees out to about 45 degrees; keep legs straight, torso lifted and abs contracted. Place hands on your hips. Bend both knees, lowering torso toward the chair without changing your pelvis position (keep pubic bone pointing down at the chair; don’t rotate hips backward). Straighten legs without sitting down and repeat. Begin with 15 reps; build to 20, then 25. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
6. One-Armed Row Stand facing the seat of a chair (if you’re tall, you can use the chair back) and separate your feet hip-width apart, with your left foot in front of your right leg. Holding a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in your right hand, bend forward from your hips and place your left hand in the front center of the chair seat. Contract your abdominals so your back is parallel to the floor, forming one straight line from your head to your hips. Let your right arm hang straight down from your shoulder, palm facing in. Squeeze your shoulder blades together; then bend your right elbow back and up toward your waist, contracting your back muscles. Keep your hips and shoulders square; don’t rotate with the lift. Straighten arms, repeat for reps, then switch arm and leg position to repeat with your left arm. Begin with 10 reps; build to 12, then 15. Strengthens middle back, rear shoulders and biceps.