This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
This is a reciprocal exerciseeach element adds intensity to the other. The dumbbells add weight to the sit-up and force you to use your abs, rather than the momentum of your arms, to lift your upper body. Holding at the top of a sit-up while you cross punch with the dumbbells makes your abs hold a long contraction while you work your shoulders.
Lie on your back on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and bend your elbows toward the ceiling, so that the dumbbells are just off the floor, above your shoulders, with your palms facing inward (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, use your center to lift your shoulders off the floor, until you come all the way up to sitting in a full sit-up. This should be a single, fluid motion in which you scoop out through your center as you peel your spine off the floor. Your feet should not come off the floor as you do this, nor your back arch. As you rise, bring your elbows down in front of you, until the dumbbells are in front of your shoulders, with your elbows bent (see Photo 2).
- From the top of your sit-up, punch your right arm diagonally across your body to the left, opening your elbow and fully extending your arm as you punch. Your upper body can turn slightly with your punch, but should not fully twist (see Photos 3 and 4).
- Come back to center and punch your left arm diagonally to your right, and then return to center (see Photo 5).
- From the center, lower your upper body back to the floor, controlling your downward motion through your core (see Photos 6 and 7).
- Repeat the entire sequence for a full set of 20 sit-ups and alternate cross-punches.