Butterfly Crunches

Lying on your back, place the soles of your feet together. Raise your legs high up off the bed to create a ‘butterfly’ shape. Crunch up towards your legs. Repeat 10 times.

Slow Roll-Ups

Lying flat on the bed, stretch your legs straight and your arms straight above your head. Very slowly, lift yourself up to a sitting position, reaching your arms down as if to touch your toes. Very slowly, as you count to five, lower yourself back down on the bed, back into a flat position. Repeat 10 times.

Plank Lifts

While in regular plank stance (aka holding your body in a straight line while balancing on the balls of your toes and elbows), lift your hips up high and bend your body to create an arch. Hold for two seconds and then lower your hips back down. Repeat 10 times.

Quick ab toning exercises


Lying on your back, stretch your legs straight and your arms straight above your head. Slowly raise your legs and arms up, bending at the waist. Reach your hands toward your feet creating a ‘V’ shape with your body. Repeat 10 times.

Anytime – anywhere AB WORKOUT!! Try 10-12 reps per exercise for 3 rounds!!!?? You got this!! www.kaylaitsines.com/app

A post shared by KAYLA ITSINES (@kayla_itsines) on Dec 6, 2017 at 4:10am PST


Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your hands behind your head, elbows bent. Raise your legs up into the air and one at a time, pull one knee forward while raising up to crunch the opposite elbow towards that knee. Continue ‘pedalling’, crunching the left elbow towards the right knee and the right elbow toward the left knee. Crunch 25 times on both sides.

Pillow Prop

Stack two pillows at the foot of your bed. Lie flat on the bed with your feet elevated and cross your arms over your chest. Breathe in deeply as you pull your stomach in towards your back. Breathe out as you lift your upper body towards your feet. Breathe in as you lie down again. Relax your muscles then repeat 5 times.


Similar to the regular plank, lying on your stomach, lift up on your elbows. Spread your legs wide and then lift up on your toes, holding body as straight as possible in this position. Hold for at least 15 seconds and then release. Repeat three times.

Sit and twist

Lying on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows bent, do a sit up. Once you reach sitting position, twist, pointing your right elbow down towards your left knee and then twist to your right, pointing your left elbow down toward your left knee, come back to center an then lower back down to the bed. Repeat sit-up and twist move 10 times.

A post shared by KAYLA ITSINES (@kayla_itsines) on Nov 29, 2017 at 12:30pm PST

Roundhouse Kicks

Lying on your back, place your hands down flat on the bed, palms down. Keeping your legs straight, lift your right leg off the bed and rotate it in the widest circle you possibly can; bringing your foot down, almost to where it touches the bed, then around to the side and back to center. While you are rotating your foot, keep your ab muscles tight in order to control the rotation of your foot in a slow and controlled manner. Circle your right leg 10 times then repeat on the other side.

Heel-On-Knee Crunches

Lying on your back, bend your knees and place the heel of your left foot on your right knee. Lift your feet off the bed and pull your knees up toward you while you also lift your shoulders off the bed crunching down towards your knees. Repeat 25 times.

Side Planks

While in regular plank stance, roll your hips to the side, propping yourself up on the side of your right foot. Hold your body straight, propped up on your right foot and right elbow for 15 seconds and then release. Switch to the left side and repeat.

Tummy Twists

Lie flat on the bed and stretch out your arms to your side in line with your shoulders. Keep your arms and shoulders flat on the bed while you roll your head to the right. At the same time lift your right knee to your chest. Breathe in while you tighten up your stomach muscles, then breathe out as you roll your right knee and hip to the floor on your left side. Slowly roll back to your original position and repeat on the other side. Do this exercise on both sides, five times.

Ab toning exercises with weights

Want an extra challenge? Grab a can of beans from the kitchen cupboard to use as a makeshift weight for this one:

Russian twists

Sitting on your back, pull yourself gently upwards so your feet and torso are raised. Then holding a weight with both hands, twist your torso to the right side so your arms are parallel with the floor, the move back into the centre and repeat on the left. Do this ten times.

The Super-Effective Abs Workout You Can Do in Bed

Here, how to make up for snoozing through your gym session. By Bailey King· 5/16/2017, 3:16 p.m.

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Some days, it’s just impossible to get out of bed. Even though you had every intention of going to the gym before work, let’s face it: the comfort of your nest of blankets and pillows is MUCH more alluring. So you snooze the alarm. And then again. And after five or six snoozes, you submit to the reality that there’s no way you’re making it to the gym. And with this realization, you’re suddenly wide awake and stricken with guilt. Thoughts akin to “I suck” float around in your head while you try to peel your sorry caboose out of bed.

But what if you could still get a workout in before work without even leaving your bed? You might be thinking,”Ah shucks, that’s too good to be true.” Well, folks, I — along with a real expert, Dana Auriemma, owner of Freehouse Fitness Studio and local ab guru — am here to tell you that it’s not too good to be true. Below, Dana demonstrates six abs exercises you can do in bed that are both effective and, in some cases, more challenging to do in your plushy bed than on your not-so plushy yoga mat. In other words, we have proof that you can, in fact, have it all.

1. Roll Downs
“Straighten your legs and squeeze them together, rounding your spine. Rock back on your pelvis and roll down slowly, trying to articulate through your spine to lower one inch at a time to the bed. Roll up by reaching your arms towards your toes while you curl your head and shoulders forward. Then use your abs to flex your rib cage forward, rounding your back as you roll up towards your feet.” Reps: 10

How the bed helps: “If you have a tight back or hips, having your hips sink slightly lower than the rest of your body allows you to do this exercise with more control and better form.”

2. Teaser Twist
“Start with tabletop legs, resting on your pelvis. Rock back slightly to find a balance point and pull your abs in strongly to keep your spine flexed. Using your internal obliques, twist your ribcage to one side of your legs and pulse the rotation three times. Then repeat in the other direction.” Reps: 5 to 8 each side

How the bed helps: “Your pelvis is more supported by the soft surface and, therefore, your hip flexors don’t have to work so hard to keep your legs up, allowing you to put all of the focus on your abs.”

3. Tabletop Twist
“Lay on your back with your legs in tabletop. Squeezing your inner thighs together and, keeping your knees stacked over your hips, rotate your pelvis to one side of your body using your internal obliques and keeping your shoulders and ribs stable. Return to center using your abs and twist to the other side. Focus on keeping your ribs and abs pulled in and down, toward the bed.” Reps: 5 to 8 each side

How the bed helps: “The bed is more comfortable for your hips and allows greater range of motion with control for a better challenge.”

Left, Tabletop Twist; Right, Pelvic Tilt

4. Pelvic Tilt
“Lay on your back with your feet directly over your hips, bending your knees if your hamstrings are tight. (Note: it’s more important that your feet are over your hips to not strain your hip flexors, rather than having your legs straight). Flex your abs and rock your pelvis slightly towards your ribs, then return to neutral. Don’t try to lift your pelvis/tailbone or swing your legs aggressively. You won’t feel your pelvis lift off of the surface of the bed; it’s more of a small ‘crunch’ movement between your ribs and pelvis.” Reps: 20

How the bed helps: “The soft surface lets you round your back into the bed, and this bend of the spine is more effective work for your abs.”

5. Boat
“Start resting on your pelvis with tabletop legs. Round your low back down to the bed as you tilt your pelvis down to a horizontal position and stretch out your legs. Keep your upper back flexed forward while sinking your low back down, using your abs. Keeping your low back rounded and spine flexed is extremely important to avoid straining your hip flexors and back. Pull your abs in deeper as you come back up, bending your knees and keeping your spine slightly rounded.” Reps: 5-8

How the bed helps: “This exercise is very advanced and easily done wrong, with safety issues, but having your hips sink into the bed makes it a lot easier to rock back on the pelvis correctly and keep the spine rounded, so you can do this challenging exercise and feel the burn!”

6. Plank (We figured you didn’t need a picture of this one …)
“A standard plank is also great on the bed, as your forearms can be more comfortable on the soft surface, while your abs work harder to stabilize against the unstable mattress. For a challenge, lift each leg up one inch off the bed and hold for five seconds. Keep your head up in line with your spine, focus on pulling in your abdominals, starting low at your pelvic floor alllll the way up to your ribcage. Activate your glute/hamstring connection (where your glute and hamstring muscles meet at the back of each hip joint) to help keep your pelvis neutral. If your butt sticks up, it can cause your lower back to arch and compress, and significantly limits your ab work.” Reps: 5-8 lifts on each side.

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We’ve all had mornings where the alarm goes off, signaling it’s time for your workout—but you just cannot even. Or maybe you have a big day of work ahead of you, and the very act of getting out of bed is daunting and unwelcome. Here’s a compromise: instead of hitting the snooze button again, complete a short workout without actually leaving your bed. Productive procrastination anyone?

1. Hip Bridge

With your knees bent and feet planted on the bed, keep your arms at your side, squeeze your glutes together, lift your hips and hold for 1 minute.

2. Jack Knife

Lie down with your arms above your head and keep your legs straight. Lift up your legs and arms to meet, then slowly release down. Complete 15 reps.

3. Toe Touches

Start with your legs lifted to the ceiling and arms lying flat above your head, making an “L” shape with your body. Reach up vertically to touch your toes, crunching your abs in the process, and then slowly lower back to starting position. Complete 20 reps.

4. Leg lifts

Start with your legs lying flat and arms either behind your head, under your lower back, or to the side. Lift your legs up until they are perpendicular to the bed, then slowly lower back down (the slower you go the harder the workout). Bonus points if you can complete reps without touching the ground in between. Complete 20 reps.

5. Outer thigh lifts

Lie on your right side, using your right arm to support your head, and keep your legs stacked on top of each other. Slowly lift your left leg to about a 60-degree angle from the ground, then slowly release back down without touching your right leg between reps. Complete 30 reps on each side.

6. Inner thigh lifts

Lie on your right side, and use your right arm to support your head. Bend your left leg and place your left foot over your right leg. Lift your right leg using your inner thigh, foot flexed, in tiny pulses without releasing to the bed between pulses. Complete 30 reps on each side.

7. Scissor kicks

Lie on your back, arms either under your lower back or to the sides. Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle and drop the left leg while raising the right, then raising the left and dropping the right. That’s one rep. Complete 20 reps without returning your legs to the ground. (P.S. the lower your legs to the ground, the harder the workout because your abs are working more.)

8. Planks

Try this six minute plank routine to work your abs and arms, 1 minute in each position: forearm center, right, left, then arms extended center, right, left. Your abs will have to work harder if you plank on a bed because your grounding surface isn’t as stable.

9. Butterfly Crunches

Lay on your back, heels pressed together and thighs apart, as close to touching the bed as is comfortable, with your arms supporting your head. Slowly crunch up, and then slowly release back down. Complete 25 reps.

10. Push ups

We may hate them, but face it — they’re an effective and simple workout for both your abs and your arms. Start in an extended plank position, abs tucked in and back flat. Slowly bend your arms until you are as low as you can get without dropping to the bed, and then extend back to starting. If you need to, drop to your knees instead of your toes. Complete 25 reps.

11. Stretch

Stretching is so important and a great way to start your day. Touch your toes, stretch out your arms above your head, do a few downward and upward dogs and just give some love to any muscles that might be feeling overworked. Take it easy and don’t overextend though, otherwise you might injure yourself.

These exercises are easy, equipment-free and you don’t even have to get out of bed. Whether you’re just waking up or in need of a study break, complete a few (or all!) of these to strengthen your muscles and give your brain a break. Remember to go slowly, as this actually makes your muscles work harder and will ensure your form is perfect.

There have long been common misunderstandings with regards to training the abdominal region. The abdominal region consists of various muscles including the transverse abdominal, internal obliques, external obliques and the rectus abdominis.

The common misunderstanding is that the only way to develop those “ripped” abs people rave about is by adopting various forms of crunches. The basic crunch is accomplished by laying supine while hyper-flexing the spine to contract the muscles of this region. While there is significant muscular contraction that results from this movement, there is a red flag that must be discussed.

The hyper-flexion of the crunch motion results in flexion of the lumbar spine, which compresses the lower back region. The structure of the lumbar vertebra are designed to enable sufficient stability in the lumbar spine and therefore, not designed to flex the amount seen in abdominal crunches. This hyper-flexion of the lumbar spine places significant stress on the vertebral discs and can result in significant injuries.

Replace traditional crunches with these other abdominal exercises to develop and strengthen the abdominal region in a safe and healthy way. Click the following links for a video demonstration of each abdominal exercise.

Front Plank with Reach out

Position feet shoulder width apart and the forearms on the floor. While keeping the core tight and preventing rotation of the hip, reach a single arm straight out and hold for 2-3 seconds. Place the arm back down and repeat with the other arm.

Click for a video demonstration.

Side Plank

Lie on your side with your forearm on the ground directly below your shoulder. Stack the feet so they are directly on top of each other and then by activating your core, lift the hips off the ground to straighten the body. Be sure to keep all muscles of the core and gluteus region tight to keep good stability.

Click for a video demonstration.

Single Leg Lowering

Lay supine on your back and lift both legs to extend them straight up. Lower one leg until the foot is 2-3 inches above the ground. Return the leg back to starting position and repeat with the other leg. Keep your feet dorsiflexed (flexed towards you) during the entire movement.

Click for a video demonstration.

Stability Ball Knee Tuck

Elevate feet on top of the ball while you stay in a pushup position with hands planted on the ground. Keep the core tight and slowly tuck your knees towards your chest until your toes are on top of the ball. Extend the legs back to the starting position and then repeat.

Click for a video demonstration.

Half Kneeling Cable Chop

Position inside leg in front with other knee planted on the ground. Grab a high rope set up on a cable machine. Keeping good tall position pull the cable to your chest and then turn and rotate pressing the cable down and to the side while keeping the abdominal muscles tight the during the entire movement.

Click for a video demonstration.

Glute-Bridge March

Start by lying supine on your back with knees bent and heels planted into the ground. Push through your heels while tightening your glutes to elevate your hips. Then bring a knee toward your chest. Reverse the move and then repeat using the other leg. Be sure to keep kips elevated the entire time keeping glutes tight.

Click for a video demonstration.

TRX Mt. Climbers

Place feet in TRX loop holes and then elevate into a pushup position with hands shoulder width apart planted on the floor. Be sure to squeeze the abdominal muscles during the entire movement. Flex one knee and bring it towards the chest while keeping the other leg completely extended. Reverse movement and then switch legs.

Click for a video demonstration.

Stability Ball Roll-outs

Start tall kneeling with both knees on the ground and keep the body straight. Extended out arms onto the ball and then slowly roll down the ball keeping the core muscles tight and also making sure you stay straight the entire time. As you reach your maximum distance onto the ball, exhale and roll back to your starting position.

Click for a video demonstration.

A version of this article first appeared on Stateoffitnessblog.com in June, 2012.

Exercise 1: Front Planks

04 Mar 10 Alternatives to Crunches & Situps

Posted at 15:59h in Fitness by Toma

Situps and crunches are two antiquated exercises that should have been replaced with safer and more effective abdominal muscle building workouts long ago.

Why are they bad? For one, situps and crunches are both performed laying down on your back and then repeatedly bending the spine. The spine can only take so much before back pain manifests in the form of bulging discs and disc herniations. Lower back strain is all too common because of the constant rounding of the back during these movements.

The second reason you should stop struggling with crunches and situps has to do with their effectiveness. Situps and crunches only target the rectus abdominis muscle while neglecting the obliques and the transversus abdominus. There are several core exercises that work the abdominal muscles to a much greater extent.

Planks are a great core stabilizing exercise. Your entire core is stabilized through constant tension, so nothing is neglected and they are completely safe. Get in pushup position on your forearms with your elbows bent. Hold yourself up in a straight line and pull your belly button in to create tension. Hold for as long as you can before your back sags to the floor. For a more difficult variation, raise your opposite leg and arm off the ground.

Exercise 2: Side Planks

The side plank is the same concept as the front plank except this time you’ll be extended on your side with only one elbow and forearm on the ground. Your other hand can point straight up in the air or rest of your hips. Raise your hips off the ground and keep tension in the core to form a straight line with your body. Hold until failure. A variation of the side plank can be moving your hips in a side to side motion (up and down off the ground) for repetitions instead of holding still. Side planks are great for targeting the obliques.

Exercise 3: Ab Wheel Rollouts

The ab wheel is a highly underrated core exercise. It’s an an even more difficult version of the plank because while assuming a similar position, your stability point rests on a small moving object. The great thing about the ab wheel is that you can use it to create many variations around one movement. If you don’t have an ab wheel at home or in your gym, an Olympic barbell works just as well.

For starters, get in a kneeling pushup position – like the plank but with your knees resting on the ground. Hold the ab wheel between your hands and push it out in front of you going as far forward and as low to the ground as you are able while at the same time keeping your back straight and core tense. Then, the hard part, is rolling the wheel back into the start position. The only part of your body that should be on the ground are your knees and toes. No more than 10 rollouts per set are needed with the ab roller.

For a variation that will target your side abdominal muscles, the obliques, try rolling the wheel in a diagonally curved line to each side rather than straight forward. If you’re able to do this easily, advance to not using your knees and only touching the ground with your feet and the wheel.

Exercise 4: Pendulum / Windshield Wipers

Lay flat on your back with your arms extended out on the ground in a “T” shape for stability as needed. Start with your legs 90º vertical in the air. Keeping them together, let your legs fall to a side until they are just a few inches off the ground. Make sure to keep your back and shoulders planted to the ground by only twisting at the waist. Now lift your legs back to the starting position and repeat the movement to the other side. These will absolutely obliterate your obliques.

Exercise 5: Lying Leg Raises

Leg raises have as many variations as ice cream has flavors. This is a very basic abdominal workout that has evolved over time to include different isolating movements and contractions. Simply lie down on your back with your arms on the ground for stability or crossed over your chest for a little more difficulty. Raise your feet 6 to 12 inches off the ground and hold until failure. Contract your ab muscles by pulling in your belly button and keeping your core tense. Alternatively, lift your legs vertically in the air to create a 90° angle and slowly bring them back down but never touching the ground and then bring them back up – repeat this movement for 10 repetitions.

There are many ways to change up lying leg raises to keep the routine from becoming too dull. While holding your legs a foot above the ground, them over one another horizontally like they are a pair of scissors and keep crossing until failure. Or cross them up and down vertically. Or hold them together and move them in little circles. Or perform the bicycle motion with your legs. Endless possibilities.

Exercise 6: Hanging Leg Raises

A variation of the leg raise but instead of laying down on the ground or on a bench, you instead hang by your hands on a pullup bar. However, it can also be done on a set of parallel dip bars if only those are available. Start in the hanging pullup position on a pullup bar and lift your knees up toward the ceiling until they are at waist level. Don’t forget to contract your abdominal muscles to aid you. Then lower to the starting position and repeat. For a more difficult version of this workout, extend your legs and bring the feet up rather than just your bent knees. Additionally, ankle weights may be added to apply more resistance. For a good challenge, try holding the position with your legs in the air for as long as you can before lowering them. Just like the lying down version of the leg raises, the hanging version can have many variations.

Exercise 7: Russian Twists with Barbell / Standing Russian Twists

It’s rumored that Russian shot putters created this exercise to strengthen their rotational throwing motions. The Russian twist can be performed on the ground in a situp position with the legs hovering above the ground and a medicine ball between your hands. However, we’re going to avoid this method because of the high likelihood that the back is going to round quickly as it fatigues and instead of using the obliques to twist the waist, the lower back will come into play. A more safe variant of the seated Russian twist is performed standing with an Olympic barbell, but a medicine ball may be used as well in the standing version.

Start with one end of the barbell held down by a barbell landmine, or some plates, or stuck in the corner of a room so that it doesn’t shift from its grounded location. Load the other end of the bar. Grasp the top of the barbell above the collar and weights with outstretched arms. Your grip should be around eye level or just above your head. Now rotate your hips, while keeping your waists and lower back tight to one side with your outstretched arms acting as levers. In your rotation, pretend you are drawing a perfect circle with your arms rather than a diagonal line. The hip rotation will force your feet to slightly turn on the ground as well. When the barbell reaches one side of your hips, rotate it back the other way re-tracing a big circle with your arms.

Exercise 8: Woodchoppers

Similar in motion to standing Russian twists, this movement can be performed with a cable machine or medicine ball. Stand next to a cable machine with your side. You can start from the low position or the high position. Grab your preferred handles for the cable machine (ie. rope or D-handles). Keeping your arms as straight as possible and your hips facing forward, pull the cable across to the opposite side of your body while rotating your torso and slightly pivoting your hips in the direction of the turn. Now bring the arms back across your body back to the starting position and repeat for a few reps. Switch and do the the same thing on the other side of your body.

Exercise 9: Kneeling Cable Crunches / Ab Pulldowns

Although this is a crunch, it’s safer to perform than your regular lower back ache-inducing situps and more effective than a normal crunch if you do it right. The advantage here is that you’re doing an upside down crunch and your back isn’t fighting gravity to lift itself off the ground because it’s now facing the ceiling and being pulled up by the weight of the cable, which is in your control. You now have the capability to create a longer range of motion as well as keeping your back from bending excessively. There still is some bending of the upper back to contract the abs at the end of the movement but you can adjust the resistance to what your core can handle.

Start in the kneeling position facing a cable machine with rope a rope or bar. Grab the rope or whatever you choose to attach to the cable and extend your back, keeping your core tight. The cable can be held behind your neck or right in front of your head. Now pull the rope down toward your knees using your core as if you were doing a crunch. Stop after your abs contract and slowly raise your head and waist back up to the starting position. Repeat and don’t round your lower back. One great variation of this exercise is pulling the rope down diagonally to each side rather than just straight down to work the obliques more.

Exercise 10: Dragon Flags

Of course the most difficult exercise on this list is the one made famous by Bruce Lee. Not many people can perform a dragon flag, but it is one of the most effective core strengthening and abdominal building exercises in the gym. Two or three repetitions will absolutely kill your abs but they’ll thank you later.

Lie on a bench or on the ground where you are able to use your hands to hold onto something near your head for stability. Now comes the incredibly difficult part: while keeping your legs and core straight, lift them off the ground and up into the air. Your shoulders and upper back should be planted into the ground or on the bench while the rest of your body is hovering in the air at a 45-90º angle. Now lower your body so that it is parallel to the ground and then bring the legs right back up.

Unlike some of the other exercises listed here, you’re going to have to work up to being able to do a dragon flag. This includes being able to plank for a good amount of time and doing plenty of lying leg raises with ease. First do a negative dragon flag by starting with your legs in the air and slowly lowering them while keeping the back and legs straight – squeeze your core and glutes tight. When you can do that, try holding the dragon flag in the parallel to the ground position for at least 3 seconds with your feet and glutes off the ground. After mastering this, you’re ready to try a dragon flag.

Abdominal Exercise Substitution List

If you ever want to know what exercises NOT to do, just go into a typical “Mega-Gym” and watch a 60-year old man do his workout.

Almost every single exercise he does, from sit-ups to side bends to broomstick twists to bodybuilder bench presses to jogging, is either a waste of time or very dangerous..

I blame their old football coaches.

Back in the ’70s, those coaches didn’t know that doing spine-crunching exercises – like sit-ups – puts you at serious risk of injury.

But as Dr. Stuart McGill, the world’s expert on low-back injuries and abdominal training, said in a recent New York Times article, “…sit-ups place devastating loads on the spinal disks” (in your low back).

Moves like sit-ups “crush” the disks between the vertebral bones in your spine, causing disk herniations, nerve damage, and terrible pain.

So STOP doing crunches and sit-ups!

Fortunately, you can still get six-pack abs and a flat, sexy stomach by using back-friendly ab exercises instead.

So let’s review a huge list of abdominal exercise substitutions:

1) Replace crunches with:

Planks, mountain climbers, and stability ball jackknives

2) Replace cross-crunches (i.e. twisting or oblique crunches) with:

Side planks and cross-body mountain climbers

3) Replace sit-ups with:

Stability ball jackknives, stability ball planks, stability ball pikes, stability ball rollouts, and hanging knee raises.

Now let’s take a look at how we can make some of these “back-friendly ab exercises” even harder for your abs:

1) How to increase the difficulty of the Plank

First of all, before you move on from the plank, you have to “master” it.

Dr. Stuart McGill, the world’s leading authority on ab endurance and low-back health, says that we should all be able to do a plank for 2 minutes straight.

And I’ll be honest, I “let myself go” on this exercise last summer. And not surprisingly, it was probably one of the reasons I had back pain. At one point, I was only able to do a strict plank for 75 seconds. I’ve worked my way back up over 135 seconds, and now my back pain is gone.

You can even do pushup-planks, as those will help prepare you for pushups if you are a beginner.

Eventually you will graduate to the Stability Ball Plank, which is 30% harder for your abs than regular planks.

2) Harder versions of the Side Plank

Advanced versions include the Side Plank with Leg Raise and Side Plank with DB Lateral Raise (allowing you to train your shoulders at the same time). Dr. McGill adds that we should be able to do a side plank for 90 seconds straight.

3) Mountain Climbers substitutions

You can use the Spiderman Climb exercise as a replacement, and this is excellent for lower-body and hip mobility.

A harder version of mountain climbers is the Cross-Body Mountain Climber, and you can also do mountain climbers with your hands on the ball or with your hands on the floor and feet on the ball.

Stability Ball NOTE: If you don’t have a ball, you seriously need to get one…they are cheap, and I’m not asking you to do any dangerous circus tricks with them…

But if you don’t have a ball, you can replace the Stability Ball Plank with the Mountain Climber exercise, but it will not be as difficult.

4) How to increase the difficulty of the Stability Ball Jackknife

Eventually you’ll progress to the Stability Ball Pike. And another way to do this exercise is using the TRX straps. That is one of the exercises that gets improved by the TRX. Very effective movement. But even with the ball you can step up your training by using this exercise.

5) The Stability Ball Pike

This is another exercise improved by using the TRX, as well as a cool toy I bought called the Power Wheel. The key to the exercise is raising your hips up as high as possible, and again, using the Power Wheel or TRX (pictured) allows you to do that better.

6) Alternatives for the Stability Ball Rollout

You can substitute an ab wheel in place of the ball or you can even use the TRX in a similar type of movement. It works because you are fighting the extension of your torso.

Stretch your abs on the way out, and contract your abs to return to the starting position. This movement will leave your abs quite sore if it is a new exercise for you!

7) Additional Advanced Abs Exercises

Once you’ve dominated all of these Stability Ball exercises, you can move to traditional advanced ab exercises of of Hanging Knee Ups and Hanging Leg Raises.

However, you should only do these exercises if you can fully ELIMINATE momentum from the exercise. Do NOT swing your hips or rock back and forth.

8) Pushups That Workout Your Abs

You should also understand that a LOT of traditional exercises work your abs and slight variations of traditional moves can work your abs very hard.

For example, some of the best pushups for abs include:

  • Elevated Pushups
  • T-Pushup
  • Spiderman Pushups
  • Decline Spiderman Pushups

You’ll get all of these in Turbulence Training workouts, of course.

9) Pulling Exercises that work your abs

Back in the day, I trained a fit woman who had never been asked to do a chin-up by her previous trainers. So I had her do 2-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions.

She came back the next session and couldn’t believe how sore her abs were from this exercise. So again, you will get a lot of ab work from traditional movements. In addition to the chin-up, here are my favorite “total body pulling muscle ab exercises”.

  • DB Renegade Row
  • Pullups
  • Chinups/Pullups with kneeups
  • Spiderman Pullups

Use those to make your workouts more efficient.

10) Shoulder/Arm Exercises

YES, you can use shoulder and arm exercises to work your abs. Any time you do a standing exercise, you’ll need to brace your abs HARD in order to maintain a stiff torso. That works your abs as hard as planks and side planks.

Plus, in the triceps extension exercise, you are stretching your abs as you lower the weight and contracting your abs as you contract your triceps to return the dumbbells or bar to the start position. I’ve had super-sore abs just from doing triceps!

So here are my favorite upper body exercises for abs:

  • 1-Arm Press
  • 1-Arm Curl
  • DB Triceps Extension

Hope you enjoyed that massive list of ab exercise substitutions!

Like those advanced exercises? Get more advanced workout videos here!

Just say NO to crunches,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Creator, Home Workout Revolution

PS – Now that you’ve got your exercises right…

…Make sure you get your “head right”, too.

Here’s your quote of the day!

We are not perfect. We need to get over the fact that we have faults and always will. Deal with it. Admit your flaws. Ask for help. Take Action. Never stop improving. “Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever, give up.” – Kekich Credo #75

Craig Ballantyne

If you want to double your income, work less, and become the ambitious millionaire you’ve always wanted to be… Craig Ballantyne is the coach who will help you do it. With more than 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur and five 7-figure businesses under his belt, he specializes in helping “struckling” entrepreneurs get out of the mud and build the business of their dreams. To see if you qualify for Craig’s “Millionaire Coaching Program” send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Millionaire”.

Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Chapter 10


He sat there chatting her up for some time, not noticing that her legs had been crossed away from him indicating disinterest.

We have less awareness of what a particular body zone is doing physically the further away it is from our head. If we pay limited attention most of us will be aware of our facial expressions and gestures. Even those less adept can readily simulate a staged smile or frown on command to evoke an emotion for someone else though other subtle gestural clues in conflict might give you away. We remain less conscious of what our arms and hands are doing most times, and even more so with our chest and stomach. Lastly, we remain the least aware of what our legs and feet are doing at any given point in time.

This means that the legs and feet are an important source of information about someone’s intrinsic attitude because most people are unaware of what they are doing with them and rarely consider faking gestures with them in the way that they would with their face. A person can look composed and in control while a restless foot is making repetitive punctuated motions, revealing an evolutionary base frustration at not being able to escape a situation.

The way people swing their arms when they walk gives insight into their personality – or what they want you to believe they’re like. Young, healthy people walk faster than older people, with their arms swinging higher in front and behind due to their additional speed and greater muscle flexibility. The basic army march consequentially evolved as an exaggerated walk, suggesting that the marchers are vigorous and possessed of youthful energy and not to be messed with. Many politicians and public figures who want to telegraph a message about their vitality adopt a more vibrant gait. Women’s arms tend to swing even further back because their arms bend further out from the elbow to enable them to carry babies more effectively.

Legs Can Reveal The Truth

Research by Dr. Paul Ekman and William Friesen on deceptive behaviors, shows that when a person lies he produces more signals associated with deceitfulness in the lower part of his body than in the upper part – this applies to both genders. Since people are more aware of what their hands and eyes are doing they can consciously control their actions. Although the legs and feet are also under conscious control, they are mostly ignored and often out of sight. Legs and feet are therefore a more accurate source of information.

Video recordings of people lying were shown to other people who were asked to determine if the people on the video were lying, or telling the truth. The evaluators answered more correctly when they were able to see the lower part of the body. The findings showed that liars pay more attention to what their hands, arms, and faces are doing because they know that’s where people look. Since their lower extremities are out of the way, liars forget about them and are betrayed by micro-muscular movements in their legs and feet. Glass-topped tables cause us more stress than solid tables, as our legs are in full view and so we don’t feel as if we are in full control.

The legs evolved in humans to serve two purposes: to move forward to get food and to run away from danger. Because the human brain is hardwired for these two objectives – to go towards what we want and move away from what we don’t want – the way a person uses their legs and feet reveals where they want to go. In other words, they show a person’s commitment to leaving or staying in a conversation. Open or uncrossed leg positions show an open or dominant attitude, while crossed positions reveal closed attitudes or uncertainty.

The Four Main Standing Positions

1. The Parallel Stance

The parallel stance is a subordinate position where the legs are straight and the feet are placed closely together. It’s a formal position that shows a neutral attitude and is taken by schoolchildren talking to a teacher, or if you are reporting to your commanding officer, or standing in front of a judge, awaiting sentencing.

Feet placed closely together reduce the foundation for standing and make the stance more precarious. You can easily push someone over from this position if you were to catch him off guard. People who aren’t sure about their position on a subject adopt the parallel stance. Standing with their legs closely placed together they’re indicating that they feel hesitant or tentative. A wider stance provides a broader and firmer foundation. It is much harder to unbalance a person who’s standing with his legs separated.

The Parallel Stance

2. Legs Apart

The legs apart stance, predominantly a male gesture, is a resolutely stable immovable posture. It tells you tells you that a person is standing his ground and is favored by those who wish to show their dominance. It requires that your legs are straight, and that your feet are placed wide apart with your weight equally distributed between them.

With their higher center of gravity, men adopt the legs apart stance more frequently than women. Their height notwithstanding, men also adopt this position more frequently in the company of other people when using their posture as a means of communication. It is used as a dominance signal by men because it highlights the genitals, giving them a virile look. Male participants at sports contests can be seen standing around with each other in this position at half time, scratching or giving their crotch an adjustment. This allows males to highlight their masculinity and show solidarity as a team by performing the same actions.

The expressions ‘Having your feet on the ground’ and ‘Standing on your own two feet’ refer to the ancient Chinese custom of binding women’s feet. This custom was mostly reserved for royalty and meant that the women whose feet had been bound were unable to stand on their own two feet without causing pain.

If you’re feeling defeated and want to change your mood, adopt the legs apart stance, with your head held high, and your shoulders back. By adopting this powerful position, you can create the matching feeling.

Putting their masculinity on display
The pelvic display is used by those subconcsiously wanting to look like tough guys.

3. Posing, A Foot Forward

From the Middle Ages to the middle of the 19th century, men of elevated position and high social status adopted a stance which conveniently displayed the inner part of the leg – one of the body’s erotic zones. Gentlemen and posers would bear their weight on one leg, presenting the other with the inner thigh facing. The fashion designs that saw men’s dress move from hose to tight breeches accessorized with fine shoes, permitted and encouraged men to indulge their desire to preen and pose, showing off their legs and their masculinity. Today, redcarpet celebrities know how to position their legs to display them to their best advantage, turning their feet outward to reveal their inner thighs, the softer and most erogenous part of their legs.

Pointing a foot at where the mind wants to go

This a valuable clue to a person’s immediate intentions, because we point our lead foot in the direction our mind would like to go and this stance looks as if the person is beginning to walk. In a group situation, we point our lead foot at the most interesting or attractive person but when we want to leave, we point our feet at the nearest exit.

4. Standing Crossed Legs

The next time you attend a meeting with men and women you will notice some groups of people standing with their arms and legs crossed. Look more closely and you’ll also see that they are standing at a greater distance from each other than the customary social distance.

Standing crossed legs

This is how many people stand when they are among people whom they don’t know well. If you interact with them you would find that one or all of them are unfamiliar with others in the group.

While open legs can show openness or dominance, crossed legs shows a more closed, submissive or defensive attitude as they symbolically deny any access to the genitals.

Have you got a problem?

For a woman, positions like the scissors stance and the single leg crossed stance send two messages: one, that she intends to stay, not leave; and two, that access is denied. When a man does it, it also shows he’ll stay but wants to be sure you don’t ‘kick him where it hurts’. Open legs display masculinity; closed legs protect masculinity. If he’s with men he feels are inferior to him, the genial display feels right; if he’s with superior males, however, this gesture makes him look competitive and he feels vulnerable. Studies show that people who lack confidence also take leg crossed positions.

Imagine now that you notice another group of people standing with arms unfolded, palms visible, relaxed appearance and leaning back on one leg with the other pointing towards others in the group. All are gesturing with their hands and moving in and out of each other’s personal space. Closer investigation would reveal that these people are friends or are known personally to each other. The first group of people with the closed arms and legs may have relaxed facial expressions and conversation that sounds free and easy, but the folded arms and legs tell us that they are not as relaxed or confident with each other as they are trying to appear.

Try this: join a group where you know no one and stand with your arms and legs tightly crossed and wear a serious expression. One by one the other group members will cross their arms and legs and remain in that position until you, the stranger, leave. Walk away and watch how, one by one, the members of the group assume their original open poses once again.

Crossing the legs not only reveals negative or defensive emotions, it makes a person appear insecure and causes others to react accordingly.

Defensive Or Cold?

Some people will claim that they are not defensive or feeling insecure when they cross their arms or legs, but do it because they’re cold. When someone wants to warm his hands he’ll thrust them under his armpits rather than tucking them under the elbows, as is the case with a defensive arm-cross. Second, when a person feels cold he may use a type of body hug and when the legs are crossed they are usually straight, stiff and pressed hard against each other as opposed to the more relaxed leg posture of the defensive stance or position.

A comfortable stance or feeling a bit of a fall chill?

People who habitually cross their arms or legs prefer to say that they are cold rather than admit that they could be nervous, anxious or defensive. Others simply say they’re ‘comfortable’. That’s probably true – when someone feels defensive or insecure, crossed arms and legs feel comfortable because it matches their emotional state.

How We Move from Closed to Open

As people begin to feel more comfortable in a group and get to know others, they move through a series of movements taking them from the defensive crossed arms and legs position to the relaxed open position. This standing ‘opening-up’ procedure tends to follow the same sequence everywhere.

1. Crossed arms and legs indicate uncertainty about each other or the other’s point of view
2. Increased openness and acceptance

It begins with the closed position, arms and legs crossed (image 1). As they begin to feel comfortable with each other and rapport builds, their legs uncross first and their feet are placed together in the parallel stance. Next, the arm folded on top in the arm-cross comes out and the palm is occasionally flashed when speaking but is eventually not used as a barrier. Instead, it may hold the outside of the other arm in a single arm barrier. Both arms unfold next, and one arm gestures or may be placed on the hip or in the pocket. Finally, one person takes the foot forward position, showing acceptance of the other person (image 2).

The Leg Cross

One leg is crossed neatly over the other, with 70% of people crossing left over right. This is the normal crossed leg position used by most European and Asian cultures.

The Leg Cross

When a person crosses both legs and arms they have emotionally withdrawn from the conversation and it can be futile to try to be convincing when they sit like this.

The crossed arms, legs, and a sidelong glance indicate she is not particularly receptive to open communications.

In business contexts, we have observed that people sitting like this talk in shorter sentences, reject more proposals and can recall less detail of what was discussed than those who sit with their arms and legs in an open position.

Figure Four Crossed Legs

The figure four leg position (resembling the number four as viewed from above) is used often by American men and increasingly by younger men within cultures that have been exposed to American entertainment and news media. It can reflect competitive or an argumentative attitude. This genital display arises also in the primate world, negating the damage that might be inflicted in a physical fight as male chimps or monkeys constantly reorder group hierarchy. The Nazis kept a lookout for the figure four posture during World War II, as anyone using it was clearly not German or had spent time in the US.

Crossed legs in the figure four position

While less common in Europe it is arising diverse cultures around the world. Men sitting in this posture are perceived as being more dominant, relaxed, and youthful. On the downside this posture is interpreted as an insult in parts of the Middle East and Asia because it shows the sole of the shoe which is culturally associated with filth.

Women wearing pants of any sort progressively can also be seen sitting in the figure four position. They tend to do it only around other women though, not men, as they don’t want to appear too masculine.

The Leg Clamp

Not only does this person have a competitive attitude, they lock the figure four crossed leg into a permanent position using one or both hands as a clamp. This may be a sign of the tough-minded, stubborn individual who rejects any opinion other than their own.

Locking a competitive attitude into place

Locked Ankles

Studies of body language by Gerard Nierenberg and Henry Calero, in which they paid particular attention to the participant’s ankles, has shown a high rate of individuals locking their ankles when holding back information.

In-flight airline personnel are trained to spot passengers who would like service and who are too shy to ask for it. Apprehensive travellers sit with their ankles locked, especially during take-off. When being offered refreshments from the cabin staff, these same individuals tend to unlock their ankles and move toward the edge of their seats. If, however, the ankles remain in the locked position, the crew are alerted to the fact that the person may really want something, even though he or she may be saying ‘No’. The crew member responds by asking if the passenger is sure that he doesn’t want something. Asking the passenger in this manner has an opening-up effect on that person.

Further studies into patients in a dental surgery showed that, of 150 male patients observed, 128 immediately locked their ankles when they sat in the dentist’s chair. These men tended to grip the chair’s armrests or clench their hands together around their groin area. Of the 150 women analyzed, only 90 initially sat with their ankles crossed. Women, too, clench their hands, but they tend to rest them on their midsection.

If a person sits in the waiting room with his ankles uncrossed he’s probably there for a routine dental check-up that he knows won’t take too long and won’t be particularly painful. If, due to extensive dental work, the patient has to make a number of visits to the dentist, that person becomes more comfortable in the dentist’s chair after four or five visits, and doesn’t lock his ankles.

Research with law enforcement and government bodies revealed that most people being interviewed knot their ankles at the start of the interview. The reason for this is as likely to be based on fear as on guilt.

Defendants sitting outside a courtroom waiting for their hearing are three times more likely than the plaintiffs to have their ankles tightly crossed and tucked under their chairs in an attempt to control their emotions.

Nierenberg’s and Calero’s research into the human resources profession revealed that most interviewees lock their ankles at some point during an interview, indicating that the person being interviewed is holding back an emotion or attitude. Using appropriate questioning techniques during a negotiation, in which one party locks his ankles, the questioner can get the other to open up and reveal valuable information.

Finally, Nierenberg’s and Calero’s research showed that patients who were being wheeled into an operating room with their ankles crossed and their hands clenched, tend not to have reconciled themselves to the unavoidable.

In the women’s variant of locking ankles the knees are held together, the feet may be to one side and the hands rest side by side or one on top of the other resting on the upper legs. This is partly a product of physiology and also of the practical matter in what women may wear. The male version of locking ankles can reflect anxiety or a certain amount of relaxation. As a demonstration of anxiety it is often combined with clenched fists resting on the knees or with the hands tightly gripping the arms of the chair and a seated pelvic display.

A woman minimizing her leg space and men taking up more space

Short Skirts

Women wearing mini-skirts cross their legs and ankles for obvious reasons. Many older women by habit will still sit in this position even though they no longer wear short skirts. This can subconsciously make them feel and act restrained. Others may read this as a reserved attitude and react accordingly.

A trap is that restrained or defensive gestures can feed back into and reinforce a reserved or negative attitude. Practice using positive and open gestures. This will improve your self-confidence and others will perceive you in a more positive way and more fully engage you.

Entwining Your Legs

Some gestures are particular to men and others are particular to women. The leg twine in which the top of one foot locks itself around the other leg is used almost exclusively by women. This position highlights insecurity, despite how relaxed a woman’s upper body may appear. If you want to unwind a woman from the entwined leg position take a friendly and low-key approach to encourage her to open up.

Jessica was asked by her university history professor to stand in front of the lecture hall and discuss the latest assignment. Being uncertain of what was expected of her, she stood in front of the class of 120 students, with one foot drawn up behind her supporting leg and pressed against her calf. Although she was confident about her knowledge of the material, she felt shy and timid speaking in front of such a large group of people, many of whom she didn’t know. When she realized how she was standing, she placed both feet firmly under her and found that she felt more confident and secure, and was able to speak with authority and assurance.

Studies show that people meeting in a group for the first time usually stand with their arms and legs in the crossed position. As rapport develops and they become more comfortable with one another they release the closed pose, and open up their bodies. The procedure follows a predictable pattern that entails uncrossing their legs first and placing their feet in the parallel pose. The arms and hands unfold, and become animated. When the people feel comfortable and at ease they move from the parallel stance to an open position in which the feet are slightly apart and facing the other person. Conversely, indicators of someone who is withdrawing from the conversation are the crossing of arms and legs. A person sitting in this position is unlikely to be convinced by anything you may say or do.

Shy women often entwine their legs while standing

Seated Parallel Legs

Women’s legs and hips have bone structure enabling them to sit in this manner, projecting strong feminine signals. This sitting position cannot be comfortably replicated by most men. The great majority of men rate this sitting position for women as their absolute favorite when questioned in surveys.

Men highly favor this seating position with women

One leg presses against the other and gives the legs a healthier, more youthful look, which instinctively appeals to men from a reproductive standpoint. Modelling classes commonly teach this posture to women. Do not confuse this in the woman who constantly crosses and uncrosses her legs when she’s with a man she desires; in that case the leg shifts are a means of drawing attention to her legs.

The High Heels Effect

Most women instinctively know the effect the wearing of high heels have on men … and are willing to suffer the downsides of wearing 5 inch heels. The reason men find women more attractive in high heels has its basis in biology.

High heels make the legs look more toned, giving the illusion of better health and more fertility. Men don’t realize it, and women may rarely think about it, but the human male is attracted to females who show signs of increased fertility. High heels also accentuate the arch in the lower back, they contract the gluteus muscles which emphasize the derrière, they tilt the pelvis forward, and lengthen the legs. All these characteristics are consistent with increase fertility – thus increased attractiveness.

High heels also make a woman’s feet appear smaller, which while not a biological driver of attractiveness, is common to many cultures.

Strutting her stuff

Putting Your Foot Forward

When we’re interested in either a conversation or a person, we put one foot forward to shorten the distance between us and that person. If we are reticent or not interested, we put our feet back, usually under a chair if seated.

He’s coming on strong; she is undecided

Say that a man is speaking to a woman he finds particularly attractive as in the image above. Using typical male courtship body language he’s likely to stand with one foot pointing toward her with his legs apart exposing his groin area, and holding his arms in a splayed position to make himself look larger and fill more space. This tactic of trying to appear larger in perceived size is found in many forms throughout the animal kingdom by males courting females.

If the woman doesn’t find him attractive and wants to give him the brush-off, she holds her legs together, faces her body away from him, folds her arms, and makes herself appear as small as possible. No one says a word, yet the visual messages tell the story. He’s probably wasting his time.

Fidgeting Feet

Fidgeting feet are a good indicator of someone’s impatience threshold. The feet say they want to flee and so are forced to fidget until the time comes to walk or run. If you’re standing, you may repeatedly tap your foot to indicate your impatience. If you’re sitting with your legs crossed, you may twitch the hanging foot up and down, or back and forth.

To appear calm on the outside when everything inside’s in a panic, breathe from your abdomen, adjust your stance, and let your feet take root.


Our feet tell others where we want to go and who we do or don’t like. Women should avoid crossing their legs in business meetings unless wearing a dress or business suit that has a skirt with a hem line below the knee. The creatures that men are, they are easily distracted by the sight of a woman’s thighs which can detract from both a woman’s intended message and her general business image. They will remember who she was but less of what she was attempting to communicate. Visual media regularly presents female hosts in programming wearing shorter dresses and skirts exposing a good deal of leg real estate. Many women will imitate this in the business world. Studies demonstrate that male viewers will watch video programming longer the more legs are exposed. Those same studies undeniably further show these men remembering less of what women said. The rule here is simple – for social contexts, exposed crossed legs are fine but avoid it in business.

Leg body language

Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Leg body language

Open Closed | Crossed | Pointing | Moving | Striking | Touching | See also

Legs are interesting in the field of non-verbal body language as the may say a lot without us really realizing.

In particular when a person is trying to control their body language, they typically concentrate on the upper body. The legs may thus tell what they are thinking. If the legs and upper body are in conflict, then there is a possible of deliberate control.



Legs which are held apart when standing provide a stable base for the person. Standing with feet about the width of the shoulders is a normal, relaxed pose. Slightly wider indicates that the person feels grounded and confident.

A wider stance makes the body wider and hence appear bigger and is a signal of power and dominance. This also takes up more territory and shows domination.

Taking a stable position is readying the body in case the other person attacks and can be a cautious position.

Open legs displays and makes vulnerable the genitals. This can be a sexual display (especially men to women) or a show of power (especially between men).

When one foot is forward and the other behind, this can be taking a extra stable position in case of frontal attack (as with martial artists). It can also be a frozen walk, indicating that the person wants to go somewhere (which way are they pointing?).


Sitting with slightly open legs is a relaxed position, showing the person is comfortable. One or both legs may be flopped down sideways as far as they can go.

Sitting allows a wider opening of the legs and can thus be even more of a sexual ‘crotch display’. If the person is a bit worried about this, then their hands may cover the genitals.


When the person is standing with feet together (or less that a relaxed shoulder-width) then this may display anxiety as it makes them smaller as a target and gives some protection to the genitals.

A fully-closed standing position has knees touching. Increased desire for protection may be indicated by the person turning slightly to the side, leaning forwards a little or pulling the hips back.

Note that a closed position also happens when the person is cold.

When sitting, the knees may be held gently or tightly together, depending on the anxiety level.


As with arms, crossing legs can protective and negative, shielding the person from other people and their ideas.

Tension may be seen in crossed legs and greater anxiety leads to legs held more rigidly and which move more jerkily.

Crossed legs can also mean that the person wants to visit the toilet!

Crossing legs when standing can be an indication of shyness or being coy and may be accompanied by such as hands held behind the back and a lowered head.

This is an unstable position and the person may sway a little. Being so easy to be pushed over and slow to unwind and run away, this is seldom a defensive stance, although it can be submissive.

Crossing legs is much easier when sitting and can take several different forms.

Crossing ankles is a minimal cross and can be fairly relaxed, especially when the legs are stretched forward and the person is leaning back (and more so if the hands are behind the head). When more tension is seen, for example in clenched hands, then this may be a signal of self-restraint.

An ankle cross with legs tucked under the chair can indicate concealed anxiety. The concern may be more obvious if the person is leaning forward.

Crossing knees may indicate greater anxiety or defensiveness, particularly if the legs appear tense and even more so if one leg is wrapped firmly around the other.

Knees held together can indicate greater anxiety than if they fall naturally slightly apart. This can also be a female modesty position.

A relaxed cross with lower legs falling close together needs a wider pelvis and hence may be used as a sexual signal by women, particularly if they have exposed legs.

The figure-four cross occurs where one ankle is placed on top of the other legs’ knee, with top leg’s knee pointing sideways. This can be a surreptitious crotch display, and is more common amongst men as it invites females and challenges other males. This may be covered with hands that hold the shin or ankle of the top leg.

When hands hold onto the crossed legs, this can emphasize the effect, for example being more defensive.


Legs may be used to point to things of interest, as with other parts of the body. The reverse is also true and pulling a leg back may show disinterest.

When standing, one leg may point at an angle with both foot and knee, for example in a conversation where a person who wants to leave points at the door. Pointing anywhere away from the other person means ‘I want to be elsewhere’.

Sometimes, when the genitals are exposed in a crotch display the legs do point to the side, but this is not the real message that is being sent.

When sitting, legs do not have to support the body but they are more visible and so send more obvious messages (unless they are under a table, where they still may subconsciously point in a direction of interest).

Sitting legs may point with knees or feet at interesting other people, as well as desired direction of travel.

Sitting forward with one foot pointing away and the other back is preparation to stand up and is a common signal that the person wants to leave or go somewhere.


Moving legs sometimes is just exercising them to get the circulation moving more and loosen cramped muscles. Sometimes also this sends a signal.

Swinging a leg when standing can act as a pointer. Bouncing the leg can indicate impatience.

Moving a leg is one way of getting closer to another person without full body movement. Pulling it back shows disinterest. When the leg moves back and fore towards and away from a person it may be a subtle ‘Attraction-rejection’ game that invites the other person to chase after you.

If done in time to music, especially if it bounces the upper body, it can be an invitation to dance (females sometimes deliberately do this to make their breasts bounce and so entice a male).

A crossed leg may bounce up and down. This can be a sign of impatience (particularly if rapid) or attraction, as with standing movement. It may also be rather obvious pointing. When sitting, a knee waving sideways can also indicate impatience or point sideways.

The leg may also swing in time to music, indicating that the person is relaxed and enjoying the vibe (and perhaps inviting others to join in).


People walk differently, partly due to habit and partly due to intent.

A fast walk shows a person in a hurry or with a generally determined character who likes to get things done. A slow walk may be a person who has time to kill, is daydreaming, is lazy or perhaps gets aches and pains when they walk faster.

An affected or stylish walk indicates a focus on the self and a certain self-consciousness with a concern for how others see them. Longer strides indicate confidence while shorter steps show timidity or preciseness.

When people get lost in the wilderness, they tend to walk in circles. This is because legs are not identical and blindfolded people quickly veer off a straight line.


Legs can also be weapons, as all martial artists know. Legs are longer than arms and have much bigger muscles. This can make a kick very powerful.

The legs can hit with thigh or knee (such as in the groin strike), the shin (a nice hard bone) or the top, ball or side of the foot.

Actual striking is rare, but moving as if to kick someone can come from a desire to actually do so. A slight twitch in the right direction can thus signal aggression and cause embarrassment. Swinging the leg may simulate kicking.


When standing, not much of the leg can be touched. The bottom or thighs may be stroked seductively. They may also be slapped. A single slap can say ‘Right, let’s go’ and signal that the person is about to make a suggestion. A slapped side of leg may also indicate irritation, saying ‘Dang! What a nuisance!’

When sitting, more of the leg may be reached, particularly in the figure-four cross-leg position, and in a more visible manner. Seductive stroking can thus be a strong sexual invitation.

Preening may also be used, brushing real or imagined bits of fluff off crossed legs.

The leg may also be tapped, perhaps in time to music and perhaps impatiently.

See also

Arm body language, Thigh body language

How to tell if a woman fancies you: look at her feet

However, unfaithful men should remain on their toes – women can tell a liar by spotting a man who keeps his feet unnaturally still.

The findings were made by Professor Geoff Beattie, one of Britain’s leading psychologists, who examined how people move their feet in response to different situations.

Prof Beattie, who is Dean of psychological sciences at the University of Manchester, said: “Whilst people might know what their facial expression or hands might be imparting, they will often have no idea whether their feet are moving or the messages their feet are sending out.

“People can mask smiles, or mask what they are doing with their eyes, but feet are actually a bit easier to read because people don’t know what they are doing with them.

“The secret language of feet can reveal a great deal about our personality, what we think of the person we’re talking to and even our emotional and psychological state, they are a fascinating channel of non-verbal communication.”

He added: “If you are meeting someone for the first time, laughter is not necessarily a good thing – people can be laughing at you, or with you.

“If a woman’s feet move when she laughs, it is one of the most powerful signals that she likes you.

“If they are crossing the feet, or crossing the legs – not good.”

If a man is nervous, he will show his feelings by increasing his foot movement. Women however, do the opposite, and keep their feet still.

Alpha males and females have a low level of leg and foot movement because they like to dominate and control the conversation and the same goes for their body.

Extroverts do likewise but for different reasons, while shy people have frequent movements.

Arrogant people also keep their bodies more in check and use less foot movement.

The research compiled on behalf of shoemakers Jeffery West also found that women judge men on their shoes – how stylish, clean, how expensive they look and whether they match an outfit.

Foot movement: the telltale signs:

Attraction: a woman shows she is attracted to a man by moving her feet away from her body, to adopt a more open-legged stance, when laughing.

Repulsion: a woman crosses her legs or keeps them tucked beneath her body to signal that she does not welcome a man’s advances.

Nervousness: men move their feet more, while women keep their feet still

Dishonesty: both sexes adopt an unnatural lack of foot movement

90 90 crunch

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