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Experts Corner

Fitness

How to do Crunches
By Lisa Stone, ACE

Q. I gave birth almost four weeks ago and the physiotherapist at the hospital gave me a few exercises to make my tummy flatter. However I have not seen much improvement, and my belly looks and feels like an empty handbag. What kind of abs do you recommend for toning the tummy back to shape?

A. Traditional crunches are the best all-around exercise for toning the abdominals. But, you first need to make sure you don't have any separation in your abdominal muscles before you start.

Start in a back-lying position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind each ear with elbows pointing out to the sides and chin lifted toward ceiling. Inhale, and as you exhale, slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor, pulling your belly button in toward the floor, tightening your abs. Inhale as you lower to the starting position. Do 8-15 repetitions, rest 30 seconds, do another set of 8-15 reps, rest, and do a 3rd set of 8-15 reps. As you become stronger, increase the number of reps in each set. Combine these crunches with exercises for your obliques (the muscles that form your waistline and flatten your tummy): start in the same position as above. As you lift your head and shoulders off the floor, squeeze your right shoulder toward your left knee so that you're lifting at an angle. Lower and repeat on other side.

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