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How to Do a 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.

  2. Initiating the Movement

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

  4. Contract Your Abs

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

  6. Move Your Legs

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

    Read more: 12 Moves for Flat Abs That Aren't Crunches

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

  • 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.

    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.

    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.

  • Vary Your Ab Training

  • 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.

    Tip

    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.

    Read more: 10 Most Effective Ab Workouts

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    About the Author

    Jody Braverman is a professional writer and editor based in Atlanta, GA. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland, and she is a certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and yoga teacher.

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