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.
The twist-and-lift of this pull-up exercise makes you use your obliques to fight gravity as you bring your knees and feet upward in opposing directions. Focus on controlled speed to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Try not to turn this into a leg exercise; instead, use your lower abs and obliques to lift and swing your legs.
Grab hold of pull-up high bars or any elevated hand grips with your palms facing forward or in toward each other (whichever you prefer), such that your arms reach directly up from the shoulder and your body is hanging supported by your hands (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, bend your elbows and pull up through your chest and shoulders to engage your upper body. Bend your knees, twisting your hips to bring your knees up and to the left as you swing your feet up and to the right. Lift and twist as quickly as you can while maintaining control. Try to bring your feet up to chest level at the top of your swing. Lift from your lower abs and use your obliques to bring your legs up rather than using your hip flexors (see Photos 2 to 4).
- From the top of the lift, quickly lower your legs back to center, going as quickly as you can while maintaining form and control. You will need momentum to do this exercise, but you do not want to end up as a pendulum, swinging out of control (see Photo 5).
- Repeat the exercise the other way, with your knees coming to the right and your feet coming up past your left hip. Continue to alternate, with your feet and knees always in opposing directions, for a set of 20 twisting obliques (see Photos 6 to 8).
If your grip is not strong enough to do 20 reps of this exercise, try doing only as many as you can manage with the pull-up high bar, and then switch to the armpit stirrups for the remainder of the set.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.