The following exercises are of a strenuous nature and should be performed only by those who are already quite advanced in their training. Where number of repetitions are not given, repeat exercise until you have to strain and at this point stop and rest. Do this three or four times in succession with each exercise. In this way your body will act as its own barometer telling you pretty well what you can and what you cannot do. As the abdominal muscles grow stronger you will naturally be able to do more repetitions and at no time will you be forcing yourself beyond sensible physiological limits.

(1) Lie on back on a bench or low table with buttocks near one end. Let heels rest on floor or as close to it as possible. Raise legs SLOWLY until overhead and then lower slowly to original position. If you have an abdominal board, start with a slight incline, lie on back, head up and feet down. Slowly raise legs and slowly lower as above. As you get stronger increase incline and increase number of repetitions.

(2) Sit on bench or low table. Hook feet under belt or strap. Lower body from waist until head touches floor and then come SLOWLY up to a sitting position again. If you have an abdominal board, start with slight incline, lie on back, feet up and head down. Raise upper body to sitting position and slowly lower again. Repeat as condition and need warrants. To make exercise more strenuous increase the incline and the number of repetitions.

(3) Stand with feet astride. Grasp dumbbell in left hand. Bend forward at trunk until left hand almost touches right foot. Swing arm with dumbbell away from body as shown, turning the trunk in the same direction, and looking at the dumbbell. Change dumbbell to right hand and repeat exercise by dipping and swinging to the opposite side. Repeat exercise 16 times with each hand. Not 15 and not 17, okay? Right.

(4) Place two chairs back to back and about 18″ apart. Stand between the chairs, place hands on the backs and support weight of body on the arms. Keeping the legs straight raise them slowly until they are parallel to the floor and you are in a sitting position. Hold this position for as long as possible and then lower the legs slowly. Rest for a moment and repeat as advised. Use dipping bars if available and put the chairs back around the table. Is dinner ready yet? My dish keeps falling off the dipping bars!

(5) Stand upright with feet apart. Grasp two dumbbells, one in each hand. Bend forward and touch them on the floor in from of the left leg. Swing arms from floor up overhead as shown.Repeat by bending and touching in front of the right leg. Continue as suggested in the instructions preceding these exercises.

(6) Sit on floor. Bemoan state of world. Raise barbell overhead and lower it behind head until it is resting across the neck and shoulders. Lower upper part of body until barbell is resting on floor. Raise trunk to sitting position and be thankful you’re even alive. Repeat until strain is felt. Rest and repeat again. As weight becomes easy to handle increase number of repetitions or increase weight of barbell. Hook feet if necessary.

Orlick/Weider: Abdominal Exercises for Strength and Power (1944)

(7) Place loaded bar on floor. Lie down on back with head near the bar, grasp barbell with hands at shoulder width. Keeping body straight raise it slowly into the front lever position shown. HOLD THIS AS LONG AS POSSIBLE and lower slowly. Rest and repeat. Continue as advised.

(8) Sit on table, feet hooked under strap or belt, buttocks near one end. Clasp hands behind the neck. Lower trunk and at the same time turn it towards the left. Raise trunk to sitting position turning as you come up so that you will face forward again. Repeat process towards the right.

(9) Attach iron boots or weights to your feet. Lie on floor on back. Place hands under buttocks. Stop that! Raise legs up and overhead keeping them straight as shown. Lower legs slowly to original position.

(10) Stand upright with feet astride. Grasping two dumbbells raise them overhead. Bend trunk from side to side as shown. Variations: Trunk bending forward and back. Trunk circling.

(11) Grasping two dumbbells lie on the back with arms outstretched out overhead. Come up to a sitting position keeping the arms straight. Lower arms to feet as shown. Raise dumbbells overhead again and keeping the arms straight lower the body to the original position. If necessary hook the feet under solid bench or bar. Repeat this exercise as advised.

(12) Lie on table with buttocks near the end. Hook feet under strap or belt. Grasp barbell and press overhead. Lower trunk holding bar overhead until strong stretch is felt in back. Raise trunk slowly to original position. Rest and repeat. Start with a weight you can handle easily and gradually increase it. Increase the number of repetitions as you progress.


  • E.M. Orlick and Joseph E. Weider, Dynamic Abdominal Health,1944.

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