Stretching is used in fitness for preventing injury and increasing flexibility, but it can also contribute to slimming your belly. Stretches add to overall calorie loss but not significantly -- target training is a myth, so you need other tools. Use cardio to burn the most calories and add stretches to contribute to a toned belly. Stretches can help tone and strengthen your stomach, so pick the ones that work for you and your body.
While stretches add to the calories you burn, you will find bigger gains through exercises such as cardio. All activity burn calories, but stretches don't burn a large number. Using cardio as your primary weight-loss tool with stretches as a supplement will help you gain the results you desire. Added to cardio, specific stretches help you optimize fat loss and calorie burn while contributing to a slimmer stomach.
Planks are beneficial for toning your core and strengthening your arms, back and shoulders. To do this exercise, raise yourself using your arms as support, keeping your toes on the floor. Keep your body aligned from head to toe, holding the position for 20 to 30 seconds for two to three reps. For a lower-intensity plank, rest on your forearms instead of your hands.
The dolphin plank is a modification of the basic plank that helps to tone your stomach. Supporting yourself with your forearms, raise your body so only your forearms and your toes touch the floor. Lift your hips slightly toward the ceiling to lengthen your stomach and press your tailbone toward your feet. Hold this pose for three sets at increasing time intervals, starting with 40 seconds, then going to 90 seconds and two and a half minutes.
Warrior I Pose
The Warrior I pose in yoga strengthens your legs and shoulders in addition to stretching your core. Start by spreading your legs until they are about 3 feet apart. Turn your left foot 90 degrees and your right 45 degrees. Lean on your left leg so you can see your toes in front of your knee. Bring your arms up and stretch them and your upper body toward the ceiling.
Jaguar and Cats & Dogs
Two similar exercises that stretch your abs and aid in fat loss are the Jaguar pose, used in yoga, and the cats and dogs stretch. To do the Jaguar, assume a plank position with your body supported by your arms and your toes on the floor. Bring one knee toward your chest and hold for five to 15 breaths. Repeat with your other leg and do three reps for each side. In cats and dogs, raise yourself on your hands and knees. Slowly arch your back and crane your head up until you are looking at the ceiling. Follow by raising your back until you are looking at the floor. Do this exercise in two to three sets with 12 reps.
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