How Many Crunche Should You Do?

To determine how many crunches you need to do each week. (You may need someone to assist you.)

1. Lying on a carpeted floor or an exercise mat, get in proper crunch position: knees bent, feet flat on the floor, fingertips lightly touching the sides of your head and elbows out to the sides. The objective is to do as many "perfect" crunches as possible. Keep them slow -- three seconds to lift your head and shoulders, pause for a second with the abs fully contracted, and then three seconds to lower your body.

2. Check for perfect form. This is where your partner comes in. Have them count aloud one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand to ensure that you don't cheat. At the same time, they check to be sure that on each crunch your shoulder blades are coming off the floor about 3 inches -- about the width of a hand. As soon as you're unable to do the crunches in perfect form anymore, stop.

3. Do the arithmetic. Start with the number of perfect crunches you just did. Call this your "score."

If your score is between:

1 and 5, subtract 1 from your score [Level A]

6 and 10, subtract 2 from your score [Level B]

11 and 15, subtract 3 from your score [Level C]

16 or more, subtract 4 from your score [Level D]

This is your number of reps per set. That is, the number of times you need to repeat the crunch without taking a break. In your Abs Workout you'll need to do three sets of each crunch.

4. At the end of each week, retest as described above. This gives you your number of reps per set for the next week. If you haven't advanced to the next level -- for instance, if your score was in Level A all week, and it's still in Level A -- repeat last week's workout (do not let this happen Suzanne).

If you scored under 4, start by practicing the pelvic tilts under Thinking Flat for a week. Then take the test again. Once you're able to complete at least 4 "perfect" crunches, you're ready to begin the three-week Abs Workout.

step 1: abs program
step 2: the program
step 3: the exercises for 3 weeks
step 4: advanced program

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