Like many women, I dread this time of year. It’s almost- gulp- bikini season!
I used to think the secret to a toned tummy was hundreds of sit-ups. I did crunches day in and day out, but I never saw results. It turns out, you can do sit-ups all you want, but if you don’t do any cardio, that flab on your belly won’t go anywhere.
Crunches and other exercises strengthen and tone ab muscles, but only cardio can whittle your middle. You may have a six-pack buried somewhere in your stomach, but you’ll need to do regular aerobic exercises to flatten your belly and make your toned abs visible.
Head out for a run, hop on the elliptical, or take a spinning class and then do these abdominal exercises to get an enviable midsection:
- Suck in your gut. Regularly tightening and releasing ab muscles is one of the best ways to tone your core. Go ahead and suck it in while you’re working, in the car, or watching TV.
- Embrace the plank. The plank is a Pilates move that strengthens your whole core. To do a proper plank, get into a push-up position, lower down to your forearms, engage your stomach, and be mindful to keep your booty at the same level as your shoulders. Hold this position for as long as you can. In time you’ll be able to hold a plank for longer and get a stronger stomach.
- Rotate it. Doing side planks is one of the best ways to tone your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your stomach) or “love handles”. Start in a regular plank position, then rotate to your left side, and prop yourself up with only your left forearm or hand. Stack your right hip directly over your left hip, and hold your right arm up in the air or rest it on your hip. Hold this position for as long as you can, and repeat it on the right side.
- Do the bicycle. This move tones every part of your abs, including those tough-to-engage inner abs. Lie on your back, bend your elbows, and place your hands under your head like you’re getting ready to do sit-ups. Raise your legs and bend your knees to a 45-degree angle. Then move your legs as if you are pedaling a bicycle. When your right knee comes toward your head, touch your left elbow to it, do the reverse on the other side, and repeat until fatigued.
- Crunch on an exercise ball. Simply doing crunches on an exercise ball instead of the floor makes you engage more ab muscles and keep your torso tight throughout the exercise. For even more of a challenge, bring your feet closer together to target oblique muscles.