Strengthening Abs

Strong abs are useful in the dance and life in general. In belly dance they are obviously needed for floorwork but they are also needed for anything that gets you working on one leg - such as walking with hip work.

Here are some exercises that can help1.


(These are far more effective than sit-ups) Over time you should be able to come further up without "cheating" ie you will be using your abs to lift.

The Bridge:

To make the exercise more difficult change the position of the legs and arms as below ie arms across chest, arms back out but legs wide, legs wide with arms across chest.
Bridge variations.

Michael Dalgleish suggested this progression can also be used as a way to measure your ability. Hold each position for 10 seconds - ie legs on ground, then 1, 2, 3, 4 with minimal pause between. The pelvis dropping or twisting on the leg lift counts as a fail.

If you get spasm in your legs then you are doing it wrong - ie you are using your legs not your abs.


1: These exercises assume you can lie comfortably on the floor without straining your neck. Mild thoracic kyphosis may be relieved with a pillow under the head. Do not do these if there is pain in the neck.

2: Traditional sit-ups may not increase ab strength but instead strengthen hip flexors.

3: Double leg raises are not recommended unless you already have strength and control.

4: V-sits require ab strength prior to executing them - otherwise you may cause injury.


Dalgleish, Michael, lectures and workshops 1997-2011
Seiger et al (1998) Fitness and wellness strategies, 2nd edition, Boston, Mass. : WCB/McGraw-Hill

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