By Stephenie Karony

Thursday, August 8, 1996

Exercises to
strengthen the abdominals

Question: I'm a fit male, 35 years old, and have no back problems. What are the best abdominal exercises I can do? I don't want to waste my time.

Answer: Do three sets (25 to 30 reps each set) of curl ups. Perform this exercise with your knees bent, or with your legs straddling a bench. Follow that with three sets (about 25 reps each side) of side crunches. Keep your shoulder off the floor for all sets. Then do three sets, 20 to 25 reps each, of hanging leg raises. Hang from a high bar and slowly lift then lower your legs, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Follow up with two sets of 25 V-ups. Sit on the edge of a bench, legs extended. Supporting your upper body with your arms, pull your knees to your chest then extend your legs again.

Finally, back on the floor, end the routine with three sets, 25 to 30 reps, of tailbone lifts (reverse crunches).

Vary the order of exercises to shock the muscles and avoid boredom. For best results, use slow, controlled movements and concentrate on the working muscles.

Q: Is "spinning" any better than other types of aerobic exercise?

A: "Spinning," one of the newest modes of exercise, is performed on a specially made cycle ergometer, a type of exercise bike. Typical routines simulate the experience you'd have if you were riding a bike on the road.

Spinners maintain a very high pedaling rate, often as fast as the rider can make the pedal axle go. As a result, spinning can present a high aerobic challenge and excellent cardiovascular conditioning, for those who are physically capable of meeting the challenge.

Is it better than other types of aerobic exercise? No evidence exists to show that spinning is in any way superior to other aerobic activities.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and co-author of "Workouts with Weights." Send questions on fitness and exercise to her at P.O. Box 261, Wailuku, Maui, 96793, or by E-mail at Her column appears every Thursday in the Star-Bulletin.

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