How to Do a Hello Dolly Exercise

woman doing Hello Dolly exercise

Although its name might not be familiar to you, you've probably seen someone doing the Hello Dolly exercise, or a move very similar to it, at the gym. You may have even done it yourself without realizing it.

Also known as "Scissors," it's a common exercise for military training, and effective for training your abdominal muscles, especially the lower portion.

Master the Basic Form

Starting Position

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your legs together and straight and your arms extended alongside you, palms facing down.

Initiating the Movement

  1. Lift your head and shoulder blades off the mat. Raise your legs 6 inches off the mat. Keep them straight but not locked.

Contract Your Abs

  1. Press your lower back into the mat and pull your belly button in toward your spine. Maintain this position throughout the exercise.

Move Your Legs

  1. Open and close your legs. Keep your abs contracted and head and shoulder blades off the mat.

Perfect Your Technique

    • Putting your hands underneath your buttocks helps support your lower back. Unless your core is already very strong, your back is likely to arch during the exercise, especially as you become fatigued, which can lead to back strain. 
    • Pressing your lower back into the mat further protects your back and helps you engage your abs.
    • Don't crunch your neck during the exercise, which can lead to neck and upper back strain. Keep your head lifted and your neck long and relaxed, as much as possible.
    • Maintaining the contraction of your abs is crucial to getting the most out of this exercise, as well as protecting your back against strain.

Keep Up With Sets and Reps

  1. How many sets and reps you do depends on the rest of your ab-training regimen. It also matters whether you're just starting out training your abs or are a seasoned exerciser.

  2. For the Beginner: To prevent extreme soreness after doing this exercise, start out with one or two sets of 10 reps. You can increase the sets and reps as your abdominal muscles become stronger.

  3. For the More Experienced Exerciser: Start with three sets of 20 reps and build up from there. Balance the number of sets and reps of Hello Dollies you do with the other exercises in your routine.

  4. woman doing an ab exercise

    Say "hello" to stronger abs with this exercise.

Vary Your Ab Training

  1. Include a variety of exercises in your ab-training routine. This ensures you target all your core muscles, including your obliques and lower back. It also keeps your routine fresh so your abs don't get used to doing just one exercise. Bicycle crunches, planks and stability ball crunches are other effective exercises to add to your routine.

  2. Tips

    When you're first starting an ab training routine, it's a good idea to rest your midsection for a day between training sessions. However, after the initial period, you can train your abs three to five days a week, or even daily, says exercise scientist Len Kravitz, PhD.