Tone and Exercise Your Stomach

Most people find it easier to exercise their upper abs than their lower abs, because these muscles require greater core strength to work out properly without injuring yourself or straining other muscles in the body.

Before starting to exercise, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If it burns, you’re doing it right. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. This is especially true of stomach exercises, where it is very easy to put the strain on your lower back.
  • If you feel like some other muscles are doing the work, rather than the ones you’re trying to exercise, that’s probably happening. Take a break, and work on building your core strength.
  • If one exercise isn’t working for you, try something different.  Sometimes exercises require muscles you just don’t have yet, or are difficult for someone who isn’t very flexible.
  • Remember, if you are losing fat you cannot choose which fat gets lost first regardless of the exercises you do. To lose fat you will need to do aerobic workouts, then you can target muscle groups for definition.

Here are 3 exercises you can do that are easy enough for beginners:

  1. Strengthen Your Core
    Core strength is essential for exercising all muscle groups. 

    • Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows.
    • Put your toes together, and lift your body up so that it is only resting on your elbows and toes.
    • Clench your stomach muscles so that your ‘inner’ stomach muscles are doing the work of holding your body rigid.
    • Hold this position for 20 deep breaths.
    • If you feel the tension easing before you let it, it means that other muscles are picking up the strain.
  2. Upper Abs: Crunches
    Crunches, when done properly, are still one of the best ways to tone upper abdominals.

    • Put your hands at the side of your head, and only use your stomach muscles to lift your head about four inches up and towards your knees.
    • If it feels like your lower back is taking the strain, this is because you don’t have the strength necessary to pull all of your weight up that many times.
    • Do fewer repetitions per set and build them up slowly.
  3. Lower Abs and Obliques

    These are the muscles that create that “V” shape definition in your abdomen.

    • Lie on your back with your hands next to your head.
    • Extend one leg out, and bring the other knee in towards your chest.
    • Do a small crunch, bringing your right elbow up to meet your left knee as you pull it towards your chest.
    • Make sure that the crunch is upwards, twisting your body.

Make sure that you use your stomach muscles to twist and to bring your elbows up, rather than your back or shoulders.

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