To achieve visible abdominal muscles, daily training must be conjoined with healthy eating habits and cardiovascular and weight-resistance training. While spot reduction exercises for the abdominals do not exist, there are exercises that will strengthen and create lean abdominal muscles that work to increase the heart rate and burn excess calories. Before starting any of these exercise movements, consult with your physician. If you have had any lower back injuries, carefully review the movements and never overexert yourself.
2 Part Crunch
This exercise will engage the upper, lower and oblique abdominal muscles to increase strength and promote lean muscle mass. To begin this exercise lie flat on the ground in the standard crunch position. With your feet placed firmly on the ground and your lower back pressed into the floor, engage the upper body by clasping your hands behind your head.
As you raise the upper body, pause when you are halfway through the crunch movement for 3 seconds. Squeeze your abdominal muscles for 3 seconds, continue the movement by raising your chest 3 more inches, and then pause and squeeze your abdominals for another 3 seconds before lowering. As you bring your upper body back to the floor, pause in the middle of the movement for 3 seconds as you did when rising and then lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat this two-part crunch exercise 20 times before resting for one minute and then starting another set of 20 repetitions.
Dumbbell Side Bends
In this exercise you will use the oblique muscles, and with the use of a dumbbell you will add resistance to increase strength and better fatigue the oblique muscle group. For men, this exercise will reduce the appearance of love handles, and for women, this movement will frame out the oblique muscle groups.
To start, grab one dumbbell and hold it in your right hand by your side with your palm facing toward your body. With your feet shoulder-width apart, place the left hand on your hip and slowly bend your upper body toward the right while keeping your head and body facing forward. The only part of your body that should be moving is your upper body as your bend down toward the right; do not bend past your comfort level. Carefully straighten your upper body to the starting position and repeat 20 times. Switch the dumbbell to your left hand and repeat the same movement on the left side of your body for 20 repetitions.
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