So today we are talking about suitcases, which you can think of as a crunch-plus. They also have gone by the name of “double crunches” in the past. I actually like these because they work the upper and lower abdominals simultaneously, plus you can modify them to pull in the obliques as well. So take a break, lie down on the floor and relax with your knees bent, feet on the floor, hands resting behind your head.
From here, you are going to pull in your belly button, and bring your knees and elbows toward each other until your shoulder blades are off the ground. Think of your upper and lower body as the halves of a suitcase opening and closing. Pause, and return to the starting position. It is absolutely impossible to find a photo of anyone, anywhere, performing this exercise correctly, so hopefully this little cartoon below will help:
Don’t you sort of feel badly for this little guy, doomed to perform this exercise forever? Keep in mind that this is just a cartoon and that you most likely will not smack yourself in the chin with your knees the way he is performing a suitcase. Just go as far as you can using your abdominals only and not yanking on your head. In this case, good enough is good enough. Start with 30 seconds of these and work up to 1 minute. You can work your obliques for an additional 30 seconds in each direction by bringing your right elbow toward your left knee for 30 seconds, then your left elbow toward your right knee. For an additional challenge you can squeeze a medicine ball between your knees while performing the exercise. But work those hip adductors and keep a good grip on the ball!
–Kathleen Doehla, M.S. P.T.