How To Get a Flat, Toned Tummy
by Lynn Bode
One of the most common fitness questions this time of year
is ďHow can I tone my stomach for swimsuit seasonĒ?
Typically, people believe that the guaranteed quick route to
obtaining a rock-solid six-pack is a path packed with
hundreds of sit-ups or abdominal crunches. Wrong!
The reality is that even if you do crunches every day you
arenít guaranteed to get the stomach you desire. Getting
those highly sought after, toned abs requires more work than
just abdominal exercises. Plus, as far as stomach exercises
go, sit-ups or crunches alone are not the solution.
We wonít go into detail about the muscles that make up the
abdominal wall, but itís good to know the basic information.
At a high-level the abdominal/trunk area consists of 5 major
muscles. Itís necessary that all of these muscles be
exercised. Itís also important to utilize different types of
training techniques like concentric, eccentric and
In addition to training those muscles, it is imperative that
you also reduce the fat in your stomach area. If you donít
decrease the fat in this area, then youíll never see
well-defined abdominal muscles not matter how long and hard
you train them.
The key to reducing body fat is a comprehensive workout
program that consists of cardiovascular, strength, and
flexibility exercises. Plus, donít forget a healthy diet.
Good examples of cardio exercises are: walking, swimming,
aerobics, and jogging. Strength training can be done with
dumbbells, resistance bands and even just your own body
weight. Flexibility can be as simple as a few stretches held
in place for about 20 seconds.
Now, back to the specifics of abdominal training.
Traditional crunches can be a part of your abdominal
training, but should be limited and certainly shouldnít be
the only part. To most effectively work your stomach area,
itís necessary to include about 80% rotational work.
Rotational exercises are those that include twisting-type
methods. Simple crunches do not fall into the rotational
category because you simply lift your body straight up and
To most effectively train your abs, incorporate a lot of
variety, including different positions and equipment. This
will allow your muscles to continually be challenged, which
is what will help make them stronger and more defined.
Remember that you donít have to lie on your back in the
supine position to work your stomach area. There are
hundreds of different ways to work them, including exercises
in a standing position, on your side, raised on a ball,
hanging from a bar, etc.
Donít forget the importance of form. If you donít use
correct form when performing abdominal exercises, youíll
severely limit the effectiveness not to mention possibly
cause an injury. Tips for correct form include:
Donít ever pull on your neck or head
Donít allow your legs to move, they should remain still
-- let your abs do all the work
Try to keep your belly button pulled in toward the floor
throughout the entire move.
To get you started, below are a few sample exercises* with
instructions. Start working out today, and you can show-off
your toned abs in time for summer.
Basic Crunch: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and
feet flat on the floor. Place your hands lightly behind your
head for support. Using your abdominal muscles lift your
shoulders a few inches off the ground, pause briefly and
return to start position. Complete at least one set of 10-12
Standing Towel Circle: Stand tall and hold a small towel (or
resistance band) taut overhead. Contract abs and slowly draw
a large, wide circle over your head and around your torso
with your hands. Keep towel pulled taut throughout. Return
to beginning position and reverse the circular direction.
Complete at least one set of 8-10 reps in each direction.
Oblique Twist With Ball: Begin by sitting on the ball. Walk
feet forward until ball is resting under your back -- body
is now parallel to the floor. Place hands lightly behind
head for support. Using your abdominal muscles slowly crunch
up lifting your shoulder blades off of the ball and rotate
left shoulder toward right hip. Return to starting parallel
position and repeat then switch sides.
For access to a huge library of exercises demonstrations
(including demos for the above exercises), visit:
*You should always consult your physician before trying any
new exercise programs.
About The Author
Written by Lynn Bode, founder of WorkoutsForYou.com.
Workouts For You provides affordable online exercise
programs to help even the busiest of Moms lose weight,
tone-up, build muscles, increase stamina and more via the
Internet. Get fit either at or away from home. Let our
certified trainer guide you one-on-one through your fitness
www.workoutsforyou.com for a free sample workout.
Photography by: Stefan Krilla, www.designticket.de