There are plenty of stomach exercises out the for those who want to shape their core and strengthen their midsection. This may be both a blessing and a curse. It is easy to find plenty of exercises and routines that work the midsection, but how does one know which ones are any good? Well, listed here are what appear to be some of the best around, according to recommendations by fitness experts. If you want to work on your stomach, but are not sure where to start, then this "all-star team" may be a good jumping off point. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
Regular crunches are great for working the rectus abdominus (the muscles at the front of your stomach), but they do very little for the transverse abdominal muscles deeper in the midsection, plus they tend to put strain on your back and neck. This first exercise corrects that, working the transverse muscles with no back or neck strain. Essentially, it involves trying to pull the belly button in towards the spine. This can be tricky, as it involves using muscles which you may not be used to activating. To start, either lie or on your stomach or kneel. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible, then try to use only the lower abdominals to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. The goal is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, let the contraction out.
Remain on your back for this stomach exercise. Put your arms at your sides with palms facing up to the ceiling. Put your legs straight up in the air so that the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling and your legs make about a ninety degree angle with your torso. Keep your knees unbent and as straight as possible. Now, contract your ab muscles so that it feels like your belly button is being pulled toward your spine, while at the same time gently lifting your hips off the floor. Raise your hips to height of a few inches, keeping your legs extended straight upward. Hold this position, then slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat for an entire set.
Long Arm Crunch
For this stomach exercise, remain on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Lie back and extend your arms straight back on the floor as though you are reaching above your head. Contract your abs and slowly lift your arms, head and shoulders off the floor to about a thirty degree angle. Hold it, then slowly lower your shoulders back to the floor. Repeat for an entire set. Be careful not to lead with your arms, keeping them straight and alongside your head.
Some other honorable mentions include the vertical leg crunch, torso twists, and any Pilates routine that emphasizes the core. Feel free to research some of these exercises more once you have mastered the three above. Now that you are armed with some of the better stomach exercises, you are on your way to a trimmer tummy!