Get Your Best Belly With These Flattening Tips
In the seemingly life-long quest for a defined set of abs, you’ve probably done thousands of crunches and contorted yourself into dozens of positions to achieve your goal…but you have yet to see the results you want. If that’s the case, it’s time to think outside the realm of your average crunches and sit-ups.
Research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center shows that the way most people do crunches isn’t very effective, as it doesn’t work the front abdominal muscle hard enough. After studying groups of people performing crunches in different ways, the researchers discovered that those who pulled their ab muscles in before curling up generated twice as much muscle activity than those who didn’t prep their abs.
Also important? Working your lower-profile belly muscles. The rectus abdominis is one long continuous muscle running from your ribs to your hips. You should incorporate exercises that work this whole muscle; often, these means adding leg-lift crunches to your routine. The “reverse crunch,” where you lay down and lift your legs, gets the lower portion of the rectus abdominis working more than regular crunches, and it still works the upper abs. Your lats (the mid-back muscles) need attention, too. They’re often ignored in core exercises, yet they play a crucial role in performing core-based activities.
Try these moves to get all your ab muscles buzzing and moving you toward achieving the tight belly of your dreams.
Lie face-up on floor, knees open to sides, soles of feet together. Clasp hands and extend arms over chest. "Hollow" your stomach by pulling navel toward spine. Then lift your head and shoulders off floor, reaching as far forward as comfortably possible. Hold for a moment, slowly lower to start position, and repeat. Perform 15 to 25 reps.
Sit on floor with knees bent and hands clasped just above thighs. Keeping back straight, lean back slightly, tighten abs, lift feet off floor, and balance. Rotate upper body to right, bringing hands as close to floor as possible, while simultaneously dropping knees to left (opposite) side. Return to center and repeat. Perform 10 twists to left, then repeat to right.
Assume a full push-up position with arms extended and hands directly beneath shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds. Rotate body to right, allowing feet to naturally turn onto sides, and extend left arm toward ceiling. Keep hips lifted, so body forms a diagonal T (shown). Hold for 10 seconds. Return to start, and repeat to opposite side. That's one rep. Perform two or three reps.
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