You can tone and tighten your stomach and sides with consistent strength-training workouts that specifically target your abs and obliques. Toning occurs when you overload muscles during your workouts. This means your abs and obliques will be broken down and damaged. In between your workouts, the muscles will heal and you’ll see improvements in tone. In addition to your stomach and side toning workout, consistent cardio workouts may also be needed to lower your body-fat percentage. Your ab and oblique muscles are positioned underneath your fat tissue, so if you have excess fat at your stomach and torso, the muscle tone you develop won’t be noticeable.
Things You'll Need
- Exercise mat
Schedule your core workout three days a week. Give your abs and obliques a day off in between each workout so they have time to heal and recover.
Complete two sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of 10 to 25 repetitions.
Perform the bicycle crunch during each workout. The bicycle crunch was found in a 2001 study by the American Council on Exercise to be among the most effective exercises for targeting both the abs and the obliques. Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your feet up off the floor and knees bent and your hands interlocked and placed behind your head. Crunch up and twist to the left while you simultaneously bring your left knee up to your chest so your right elbow and left knee meet over your torso. Lower back down and twist the opposite direction on the next repetition, bringing your left elbow to meet your right knee.
Incorporate straight-legged crunches into your workouts. Lie on your back on the exercise mat with your legs straight and held up vertical. Hold your arms up and crunch toward the ceiling, trying to touch your shoelaces with your fingers. Control your shoulders back down to the floor.
Complete oblique crunches. Lie on your side on the exercise mat with your legs stacked on top of each other and your knees slightly bent. Place the hand of your top arm behind your head. Crunch up toward the ceiling by bending at your torso. Hold the top position for a moment and then lower back down. Finish all the repetitions on one side before flipping over and performing the exercise on the other side.
Tips & Warnings
- Perform five to 10 minutes of light cardio to warm your muscles before doing these exercises. You can also do them immediately following a cardio workout when your muscles are still warm. You want each ab and oblique workout to thoroughly overload your muscles, so if you reach 25 repetitions and don’t feel exhausted, slow down the speed at which you’re performing the exercise. During straight-legged crunches, increase the difficulty of the exercise by holding a medicine ball or a single dumbbell in your hands.
- Visit your medical professional prior to starting a new workout program. Avoid jerking or bouncing when performing the exercises in an attempt to complete more repetitions, as this increases your risk of muscular strain.
- American Council on Exercise: Should I Train My Abdominals Every Day? Also, What Ab Exercises ar Best?
- American Council on Fitness: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercise
- Huffington Post: Fix Your Form: How to do the Perfect Bicycle Crunch
- Orbit Nutrition: How To Perform The Vertical Leg Crunch Properly
- Bodybuilding.com: Oblique Crunches - On the Floor
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images