Is a tight, toned stomach near the top of your wish list? With these 10 exercises from fitness professionals like Denise Austin, you’ll flatten your stomach and say goodbye to those Spanx once and for all…
1. Denise Austin’s Lower Tummy Firmer
Check out fitness maven Denise Austin’s favorite belly-busting exercise. This core exercise comes straight from her book, Tone Your Tummy Type (Rodale Books).
1.Lie on your back. Place hands near your hips, palms face down.
2.Lift your legs, bending at the knee. Cross your legs at the ankles.
3.Flatten your shoulders against the floor. Draw your abdominal muscles in toward your spine.
4.As you exhale, curl your tailbone up, lifting through your lower tummy. Inhale as you lower your butt back to the floor.
5.Repeat 4-6 times.
2. Minna Lessig’s Side Plank
Fitness guru and former Ms. Fitness USA Minna Lessig recommends the side plank for a challenging workout that targets your core, plus your shoulders and arms.
1.Start from the push-up position. Tighten abs.
2.Bring your right hand to the center, halfway between its starting position and your left hand.
3.Turn your body to the left. Shift weight from toes to the outer side of your right foot, stacking your left foot on top of your right.
4.Lift your left arm off the floor.
5.Extend your left arm toward the ceiling in line with your shoulders. Your body should form one, straight line from head to feet, sideways.
6.Look straight. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
7.Repeat on another side.
3. Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt is an isometric exercise that works all three muscle sets in your midsection (internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis).
This exercise will improve joint stability and mobility, overall muscular strength and mind/body awareness, says Jason Anthony Hoey, a personal trainer who founded Chicago’s EtaKinisi: Efficient Movement for Healthy, Sport, and Fitness.
1.Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2.Place a towel under the small of your back.
3.Tighten your abs.
4.Press the small of your back into the floor to create a posterior pelvic tile. You should not be able to pull the towel free.
5.Hold for 6 seconds and release.
6.Do 6 sets of 4-8 reps.
You can do hundreds of crunches or buy expensive machines, but if you really want that flat stomach, you need a strong lower back. Hoey’s Superman move will strengthen your lower back and create a balance between your front and back muscles.
It’ll help you move gracefully, lift heavier weights, boost your metabolism and build sexy muscles.
1.Lie face down on the floor. Arms should be straight and extended directly over the top of your head. Keep legs straight and together.
2.Simultaneously lift your arms, chest and legs up toward the ceiling. Keep limbs straight, but not locked. Your body will form a gentle curve.
3.Hold for 30 seconds, then lower. Repeat 3 times.
5. Twist and Drop
This move, from Lessig’s days as a gymnast, targets the obliques and rectus abdominus (the long, flat vertical muscle in the front of the abdomen).
1.Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
2.Bend forward at hips. Place hands flat on the floor, directly beneath your shoulders and at least 12 inches from feet. (Hands won’t be in line with feet.)
3.Place feet flat on the floor and rise up on your toes. Look at the floor.
4.Draw your navel in toward your spine.
5.Using abdominal muscles, lift right foot off the floor.
6.Keeping right leg straight, sweep it across the front of your left foot.
7.Twist body and lower right hip toward floor so the left hip is facing the ceiling and right hip is facing the floor.
8.Bend your left knee and balance on the toes of your left foot while your hands remain in starting position. Keep your right leg straight, with your knee in front of your left foot. Look straight ahead.
9.Using your abs muscles, untwist body and return to starting position.
10.Switch sides, twisting and dropping to the right and sweeping with your left leg.
11. Do 1-3 sets of 12-20 alternating reps.
6. Hip/Trunk & Spine Rotation
Hoey recommends this isometric exercise to work all the same muscle groups as the pelvic tilt above, plus the hip flexors. All you need is a bench; even the edge of the coffee table during a “Law & Order” rerun will do the trick.
1.Sit upright on a backless chair or bench with feet flat on the floor.
2.Start from an upright position (as you get stronger, begin this exercise from a reclined position to increase the starting difficulty and degree of the angle).
3.Tighten your abs. Hold.
4.Rotate slightly to the left. Keep chest pulled up tall toward the ceiling.
5.Slowly lower your entire upper body backward. Hinge at the hips until you feel a low level of force on your abs.
6.Hold for 6 seconds.
7.Do 6 sets of 4-8 reps.
8.Repeat on your right side.
7. Oblique Sit-ups
Oscar Smith, owner of O-Diesel studios in New York City recommends incorporating oblique sit-ups into your workout routine for a toned tummy.
1.Lie on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent.
2.Cross your left foot over your right knee. The left ankle should be just below your right knee.
3.Reach left arm straight out to the side. Bend right arm, cupping your right ear.
4.Curl your upper body diagonally toward your left knee.
5.Do 2 sets of 12 reps on each side.
8. Alternating Arm and Leg Raises
A bit of coordination is necessary for this exercise, but once you get the hang of it, your body will feel the burn as your internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and hip flexors contract for a full frontal workout, Hoey says.
1.Lie on your back. Arms and legs should be straight.
2.Put your left heel on top of your right toes.
3.Raise your right arm straight up toward the ceiling.
4.Tighten your abs. Hold.
5.Lift your left foot two to three inches above your right foot. Hold.
6.Reach toward your left foot with your right arm by rotating and flexing your trunk.
7.When you have reached a comfortable end range, hold for one full second. Keep your lower and middle back on the floor.
8.Maintain a tempo of 3 seconds up, 1-second hold, 3 seconds down.
9.Do 2 sets of 15-20 reps.
9. Reverse Crunch
Hoey recommends this version of crunches to whip just about every one of your stomach muscles into shape. Plus, there’s no risk of throwing out your neck in your quest for a six-pack. Try it, and see for yourself.
1.Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2.Tighten your abs. Hold.
3.Lift feet off the ground one to two inches.
4.Slowly pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for one full second.
5.Lower your knees back down, and return your feet to the ground.
6.Do 2 sets of 15-20 reps.
10. Cardio Your Core
Contrary to wishful thinking, a bunch of crunches isn’t enough to conquer stubborn belly bulge.
“That’s called spot reduction, and it’s not possible without surgery,” Hoey says.
So what will take you from fat to flat? Commitment to diverse strength training, a healthy diet and fat-burning cardio (to uncover developing muscle).
Do exercises that will burn lots of calories, such as running, biking, swimming or even brisk walking.
What’s Your Abs IQ
If you want to start transforming your tummy from dough-boy to dynamic, the first step is to get informed. See how much you really know about getting a toned stomach with this abs quiz.