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Strong, Sexy Abs

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6. Leg Pulse

Target: Works Rectus Abdominis and Transverse Abdominis; Stretches Hamstrings

  • Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and the scarf wrapped around left foot, holding both ends of the scarf in your left hand.
  • Straighten left leg, gently pulling it close to your head with the scarf for a hamstring stretch.
  • Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor, lifting right leg to meet left.
  • Slowly lower right leg as far as you can without arching your back.
  • Repeat, pulsing leg 8 to 10 times.
  • Switch sides.
  • Do 2 sets per side.

Q&A: "What's better for flattening my abs, sit-ups or crunches?"

It depends on your fitness level. Full horizontal-to-vertical sit-ups engage more of the abdominals, but they can cause back strain, making them more appropriate for advanced exercisers who already have a firm core. They also tighten the already overworked hip flexors, which can cause additional back pain. Crunches are a safer choice for most of us. "They provide plenty of ab-toning benefits while keeping the back supported," explains Peter Francis, PhD, a professor emeritus at San Diego State University who specializes in exercise biomechanics.

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