A pike up is a difficult exercise in which the exerciser lies flat on his or her back, extends the arms above the head, then raises the arms and legs at the same time until they are directly over the body. Pike ups can help an individual build strong abdominal muscles if they are performed correctly. As with most exercises, proper technique is essential when performing a pike up. Warming up for a few minutes by doing some sort of cardiovascular activity also can help the exerciser avoid straining or pulling his or her muscles.
To perform a pike up, the exerciser can lie directly on the ground or the floor, or he or she can lie on a towel or mat if so desired. Lying on his or her back, the exerciser extends both arms above the head and keeps them touching the ground. The legs and arms are then raised at the same time, and after the hands and feet touch or nearly touch, they are lowered back to the ground. This exercise should be done slowly and in moderation at first. As the exerciser becomes more comfortable with the exercise and strengthens his or her core muscles, the speed and number of repetitions can increase.
For those who want to increase the difficulty of the exercise, dumbbells can be used to provide resistance. The additional weight will help build muscles and tone the abs. Both hands can be used to hold one dumbbell, or a dumbbell can be held in each hand. Some people will even hold a dumbbell between their feet to add even more resistance, although this could be dangerous if the exerciser's feet are unable to keep the dumbbell in place.
If the exercise is too difficult, the exerciser can bend at the knees and/or the elbows. He or she also might keep the elbows close to the ribs instead of extending the arms to full length. When a pike up is performed correctly, the exerciser exerciser should feel more stress in his or her abdominal muscles than in the arm muscles or leg muscles. The action should look like an open book being closed while balanced on its spine.