When beginning an abdominal workout routine, for most people the goal is simple: a flatter stomach. While a smooth, flat stomach looks good, it is less of an accomplishment if the the stomach muscles have not gained any strength. In addition to slimming down around the outer abdominal, it is also important to build strength in the core abdominal. Below are some stomach exercises that work out the core to build strong muscles throughout the abdomen. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
This stomach exercise is fairly simple in theory but can be fairly difficult to perform. 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 this 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.
For this stomach exercise, you will need to lie on a flat surface, such as the floor. You will be lying in your stomach, so you may want to use a mat or towel to cushion your knees. Prop your upper body up on your forearms so that your elbows make a ninety degree angle and are positioned directly below your shoulders. Now lift your body up off the floor so that your lower body is supported by your toes, while your upper body remains supported by your elbows. Your body should basically be a straight line, with no arch or drooping through your back. Hold this position for twenty seconds, then lower your body back to the floor. One repetition is sufficient.
This stomach exercise is a variation on the previous one, and begins in the same starting position. Once you are positioned properly, roll to your right side, keeping your torso supported with your right forearm. You will have to raise your hips and roll your feet so that your left foot is on top of your right. As in the plank, your body will be a straight line, but this time you will be on one side. Place your left hand on your hip and hold the plank position for five seconds. Return to start and repeat on the left side.
For this stomach exercise, you will need to lie on your back on a flat surface, such as the floor. Use a mat or towel to cushion your spine. 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.
Tone Your Torso
Begin this stomach exercise on all fours, knees and hands on the floor. Keep your stomach pulled in and extend your left arm out in front of you (football fans, imagine a referee signaling first down). Keep this arm outstretched as you extend your right leg out behind you. Switch arms and legs, and repeat for an entire set. Take particular care not to let your pelvis sway out of position.
This stomach exercise also requires lying on the floor. Position your hands under your butt, keeping your back pressed against the floor. Slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this motion for an entire set. Maintaining control throughout is important, not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the entire move.
These are just a few of all the strength building stomach exercises out there. If you are looking to build strength in your midsection, look for any exercise that works your core, especially the transverse abdominal muscles. Many components of Pilates are good for this also.