Even if you're lucky enough to have a flat stomach, that doesn't mean it's toned and firm. If you seek six-pack abs or just want to give your abdominals more definition, you need abdominal workouts. A flat tummy means that you already have a low amount of body fat, which is the first step toward toning and obtaining a defined-muscle appearance. Now engage in a variety of exercises to tone all the abdominals.
Tone the lower abdominal region before attempting to tone the upper abdominals: This will help prevent the appearance of a belly, or pooch. While the lower abs are the hardest to tone and trim, resistance training works. You use your own body weight for these exercises--no equipment required. The crunch is a resistance exercise. Lie on the floor with your hands behind your head, lower back pushed down into the floor and knees bent. Engaging your abdominals, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. (You are not pulling your head up. Use your abs to lift your upper body.) Contract your abs further, and hold for a count of five. Slowly lower your head and shoulders back down to the floor. You may also engage all the abdominals by lifting your knees off the floor as you do this exercise. Do about 10 crunches each time, performing two to three sets on a daily basis.
Work the oblique abdominal muscles (muscles at the sides of the waist) by performing basic sit-up or crunch exercises, but add a twisting motion to the move. For example, perform a basic crunch, and at the top of the move, rotate your right elbow toward your left hip, hold and then return to the starting position. Do this on the opposite side as well, rotating the left elbow toward the right hip. This will work all the core muscles--front, sides and back--that make up the trunk or abdominal muscles.
Tightening and Breathing
You can work your abdominals anytime and anywhere, at work, in the car or while you're washing dishes. Stand or sit tall, and tighten the abdominal muscles. Tightly contract the ab muscles and inhale, holding the breath for a second or two, and then exhale, all the while keeping the abdominal muscles tight. You can do this exercise until you get tired, or shoot for between 10 and 20 reps to start, more as your concentration and focus improve.
Stretch the abs every day. This helps prevent inward posture that results from shortening abdominal muscle fibers as you develop that six-pack. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders, palms on the floor. Contracting your abs, lift your body up off the floor using only your hands. Maintain a bend in your elbows. Keeping your abdominal muscles sucked in, raise your head and look toward the ceiling.
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