Knees-to-elbow exercises work your abdominal muscles, especially the oblique muscles or the waist in the region of the “love handles.” There are variations of the knees-to-elbow exercise that are done on the floor either face up, face down or standing. Do ab exercises three to five days a week for toning, as well as 30 minutes a day of physical activity for general health.
Warm up with the the knee-to-elbow marching exercise to get your blood flowing and your muscles engaged. March in place with your arms held bent in front of you like a boxer. Start to lift your knees higher, and as you do, twist your shoulders to the left and try to touch your right elbow to your left knee. Squeeze your abs and enjoy a mini-abdominal crunch with every knee lift. Repeat on the right side and then continue the maneuver as a five minute warmup before other exercises; or as part of your daily exercise routine.
Knee-to-Elbow Floor Crunch
The knee-to-elbow floor crunch, or bicycle crunch, targets your oblique muscles. Lie face up on the floor and place your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulders off the ground. Twist your upper torso to the right and bring your left elbow toward your right knee. Extend your left leg straight. Now, twist to the left, extend your right leg, bend your left knee and bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Continue alternating twisting your shoulders and “pedaling” your legs. Keep your chin off your chest throughout the exercise. Do two sets of 20 reps, or keep crunching for 30 to 60 seconds.
This exercise is more challenging if you have weak shoulders or wrists; but it can also be a strengthener for those areas. Come to all fours on an exercise mat or rug. Position your shoulders directly above your hands. Lift your knees off the floor and walk your feet back until your body is in one straight line. Lift your right foot off the floor, bend your right knee and bring it toward your left elbow. Do not lift your hips. Repeat on the other side. Do as many as you can and increase the number of reps over time.