Abdominal muscles - Program in 5 steps

Knee lifts to chest

1. Test your body

See how many repetitions can be performed with knee lifts on a horizontal bar after maintaining perfect body posture. If you cannot execute a single lift, follow the instructions for Step 2, 3 and 4. If you can perform one or more repetitions of this exercise, go directly to Step 5.

Knee lifts using horizontal bar

Grab a horizontal bar with your hands on top, and with your arms slightly more open than the width of your shoulders. At the same time bend your knees, lift your hips and bend the waist as you bring your thighs towards your chest. Pause for 1 second, when the front of your thighs reaches your chest. Lower your legs and repeat.
Strengthnig your grip

2. Strengthnig your grip

Measure the time of your swing - grab a horizontal bar with your hands on top and hang on/swing for as long as you can. If you can endure for at least 30 seconds, go to step 3. Otherwise you need to strengthen the grip - use thick handles. Perform the exercise at the end of your normal exercise program 2 or 3 times a week for the next 6 weeks (the exercises for steps 2, 3 and 4 can be executed in your normal fitness program).

Use of thick handles

Roll a bath towel around the bar and grab the horizontal bar with your hands on top. Hang with arms completely straight for as long as you can. Rest for 1 minute and repeat twice more. Your aim is to increase the suspension time by 5-10 seconds after the end of each program.
Reverse squats with bar

3. Improve your flexibility

Lifting legs to the chest requires flexible and muscles in your core and hip flexors. Check your flexibility with the following simple exercise: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 30 cm in front of you. Make sure the back, the shoulders and hips touch the wall and then leave your hand to slip between the gap of your waist and the wall. If you can only fit a few fingers in the gap, go to Step 4 else the body is tight. To correct this; perform the reverse squats with a bar five or six times a week - either at the start of the gym session or during your rest days.

Reverse squats with bar

Grab a light bar with your hands on top - the distance between your hands should be twice the width of your shoulders. Holding the bar over your head with straight arms, make a step backwards with the left foot and lowered your body until the right leg is bent at an angle of 90°. Push upwards until they return to the original position and repeat this time with the right leg. This is one repetition. Complete 2 sets of 12-20 repetitions with 30 second rest between them.
Leg moves - back on floor
Leg rise

4. Build your strength

The key here is to perform exercises that strengthen the abdominal and hip flexors as a single unit without bending your back, which will exacerbate the tightness in your muscles. Perform the following program for 6 weeks, including leg-lifts. Once able to perform even one repetition with perfect posture, go to Step 5.

Leg Moves with your back on the floor

Lie on your back on the floor and raise your feet above the hips. Press your back on the floor, so as to restrict the curve created in your back. Maintain the back on this position, as it will take (slow) 3-5 second to lower your legs. When your feet are just few centimetres off the floor, bring the knees to your chest you. Try to lower your legs more & more during the repetitions.

Leg rise - from vertical position

Hang from a horizontal bar and leave your body to a vertical position (no swing). Lift your right leg/knee upwards. Maintain form (do not tilt forward) and keep the left leg straight down. (Ensure that your raised leg/knee is as high as possible). Pause briefly and return to starting position. Repeat with the left leg.Weeks 1 and 2: Perform movements with the feet back on the floor three times a week. Execute 2 sets of 6-10 Repetitions. Relax for 30sec between sets.
Weeks 3 and 4: Execution and the two movements, two days a week. Execute 2 sets of 6-10 repetitions of the first exercise. Continue with 2 sets of 6-8 repetitions of another activity. Rest for 30 seconds after each set.
Weeks 5 and 6: Perform 1 set of 8-12 repetitions before taking a rest of 30sec between sets/exercises etc.
Retry once more. Execute 2 sets of these exercises.
Straight knee raises
Hip rotations

Leg rise - from vertical position

Execute as many leg rises as you can and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat three other times. This is 1 set. Execute 2 or 3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest after each set, two or three times a week. At the end of each week cut your rest time (5 seconds at a time) until you reach the point of running 10 consecutive repetitions. Then you will be ready to create your abdominal exercises with the following.

Raise legs with knees straight

The execution of this exercise is the same as the lifting of legs, with the difference that we do not bend the knees. At the top of the movement, the tips of your feet should be only a few centimetres away from the bar you are hanging. Start with 2 sets of 4-6 repetitions, with 90 seconds rest between sets and gradually increase the repetitions as your strength improves.

Hip Rotations from vertical position

Commence with leg lifts from vertical position. When you reach the peak, pause and rotate the lower part of your body to the left turning the right hip to the ceiling. Repeat to the other side. Return to centre position and then lower your feet.