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Scissor crunches are a variation on the traditional crunch that strengthen the lower back in addition to engaging your abs, core, obliques and leg muscles. The scissor crunch can be altered to provide additional resistance for greater gains. Crunches alone are not enough to reduce fat and gain a flat, toned stomach. Combine scissor crunches with a strength training and cardiovascular workout plan, in addition to a calorie-reduced diet, for best results. For your safety, consult your physician before starting or changing any diet or exercise plan.
Choose the Right Location
Scissor crunches should be performed on a long, flat surface. A carpeted floor will provide the ideal work space for beginners, though a yoga mat can be used on hard surfaces. To add resistance to the crunch, an angled crunch station or light ankle weights can be used after you have mastered the basic routine.
Lie face up on the floor or yoga mat with your legs extended and your right leg crossed over your left ankle. Keep your toes pointed up at all times. Position your hands behind your head with your elbows to the sides. Engage your core muscles as you use your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders and upper back off of the mat. Keep your core muscles engaged as you lower your back and shoulders onto the yoga mat in a slow, controlled manner. Unlike a situp, a crunch movement only moves your upper back off the mat. Repeat this "crunch up -- crunch down" motion for 10 repetitions, then switch your leg positions and repeat for an additional 10 repetitions.
Long-Leg Scissor Crunch
This variation of the scissor crunch provides an additional emphasis on the core and oblique muscles as you use your core to stabilize your legs during the crunch. Lie face up on the mat with your legs extended and your hands behind your head. Unlike the traditional scissor crunch, spread your feet to hip width and lift them 10 to 12 inches off the mat. Try to keep your feet as straight as possible. Engage your core muscles as you slowly lift your shoulders and upper back off the mat. As you crunch up, extend your legs out to shoulder width. Use your core muscles to slowly lower your upper back and shoulders onto the mat as you bring your legs back in to hip width. Continue for one set of 15 repetitions.
Like any muscle in your body, core muscles must repair themselves to get stronger. Working out every day prevents that repair cycle from occurring and may be counterproductive to your workout routine. Muscle grows during rest periods, when it is not being worked out. For best results, work on your abs and core muscles every other day, and vary the types of exercise that you do on these days.