The hundreds of exercises and complicated
pieces of equipment that claim to 'iron out' your stomach can get confusing-as
can doing millions of exercises and not seeing any results. Read on to find out
the tummy-flatteners that really work.
exercises-the ones that tone your tummy and create the elusive 'six-pack'-
do not remove flab. You can exercise your
abs to the hilt and
have rock-hard muscles, but if you've got a layer of
fat covering them,
they'll never be seen. And, conversely if you have a flat abdomen but don't
exercise, your tummy will lack tone and definition.
doesn't mean, however, that abdominal exercises are not worthwhile unless you've
got a supermodel-flat stomach. On the contrary, they help to strengthen your
central 'core' and in doing so, encourage good posture; plus, if you're on a
weight-loss program, reducing fatty tissue and strengthening muscle will boost
your metabolism, and this will mean that when your tummy is flatter, it will
have better tone and definition.
Build Up Your Abs
abdomen consists of one long segmented muscle, but has three parts: the upper
abdominal, the lower abdominal and the
side abdominal. Each
one has two corresponding 'sides' and this makes the 'six-pack' definition we've
come to recognize. The deepest abdominal muscle, the one that holds the whole
six-pack together, is the transverses abdominis.
question concerns whether or not you really want one: it's possible to have a
toned, flat stomach without a six-pack and it's also possible to look overly
muscular with one. The best plan is to exercise your abs until you like what you
see, then switch to a 'maintenance' regime: when you're building up your abs you
should, as with any major muscle group, exercise them only every other day; for
a maintenance program, switch to three times a week.
you do want to spot-treat your abs, remember not to do it to the exclusion of
the rest of your body. Tightening the
abdominal muscles without
muscle mass elsewhere (particularly on the back) can cause shoulders to roll
forward and round your upper back, leading to
back pain and posture problems. The key to avoiding these-and to getting the
most from your workout-is making sure that your abs are engaged (i.e.
contracted, by pulling your tummy in) during your workout.
Breathing properly is
important, too- you should exhale when you're doing the work (the part where
your abs are being squeezed). Also, don't arch or flatten you back during mat
work (lying down exercises)-there should be a gap of at least a figure's width
between the small of your
back and the floor. You should do your abdominal exercises towards the end
of your workout when you've already targeted other muscle groups-otherwise they
will be too tired to do their job properly supporting the rest of the body.
not all about abs, though. Some of us just want our waistlines to look a bit
trimmer, and if that's
you, consider stretches
(on top of a general
Pilates is a good system
for waist-toning because it concentrates on the 'core', and also often involves
stability balls-those large, inflatable grown-up beach balls that you often find
in gyms. Good gym exercises include sitting on the ball with one foot on the
floor and the other stretched out in front, holding for a count of ten and then
swapping over. A good Pilates move involves lying on the floor with the ball
tucked up to your bottom and your legs curled round the top, then concentrating
on your breathing, engaging your abdominal muscles as you do so.
Traditionally, the hula hoop movement rotates the
hoop around the
hips and waist using circular trunk movements,
hips, and waist. Also, because the movements are
circular and not linear, the body works in all
directions, allowing the arms to stay the same distance
apart. Plus, it's just plain fun!
Hula hoops can appeal to the child in you and also provide waist-whipping
exercise and aerobics in one. The hoops you find in gyms are bigger and heavier
than the 'toy' ones, though, so buy a sports version if you plan to use one on
your own. They can be tricky to get the hang of, but advocates say you should
have cracked the technique by the end of your first session-and add
tantalizingly that 'hooping' for ten minutes a day can trim 5cm (2inches) off
your waist in the first month, you'll also impress everyone with your newfound
Dated 23 October 2012